It’s not uncommon in this pop culture day and age for a woman-centric show to market around its on-screen feminist ideals… as it should. But it’s much rarer for female-led shows to put their money where their mouth is behind the scenes, not only with women in positions of creative authority, but in systems that actively support and foster the promotion of new talent in those highest of creative roles.
This is the rare case with Killing Eve, which has intentionally had a different woman showrunner (or “head writer,” as the equivalent position is known in the UK) for each season. Emmy-winner Phoebe Waller-Bridge created the show and served as its head writer in Season 1 before passing the baton to Emerald Fennell in Season 2, who then passed it on to Suzanne Heathcote for Season 3, which will premiere in April. Today, BBC America announced who will serve as the lead writer for the already-greenlist Season 4: Laura Neal, who previously worked on Sex Education and Secret Diary of a Call Girl.
“Hopefully, we’re going to continue this tradition of handing it on to a different woman every single time,” Waller-Bridge previously told Decider of the decision not to return to Killing Eve as the head writer after Season 1. “Because that would be a really cool thing to do, to give other voices in the same story a go.”
This system works as a kind of incubator for female showrunner talent in an industry that too often claims they just can’t find the right marginalized talent for the job. In an industry and culture in which we are told that we should accumulate and hold onto as much power as we can (especially those of us who are not straight white men) at any cost, it takes an intentional commitment to create a system like this one.
It’s downright inspirational to see it in action with Killing Eve, and pretty life-affirming to know that it has not affected the show’s bottom line, as is often the assumption when it comes to excuses for why diversity schemes are not more integrated into high-profile productions. Rather, Killing Eve seems only to have benefited from the structure of bringing in a fresh creative voice to lead the story every season so far.
“Killing Eve smashes television tropes in every way, both on the screen and behind it,” said Sarah Barnett, President, AMC Networks Entertainment Group and AMC Studios, in a press statement. “We have a remarkable squad of ferociously smart women writers passing the baton to each other on this show, aligned around a coherent vision but bringing it to life with their own specific sparkle and brilliance. Laura Neal is the latest incredible leader of the pack on Killing Eve.”
“Laura is frighteningly bright, takes no prisoners and can laugh at anything,” added executive producer Sally Woodward Gentle. “She’s wicked and wild, emotional and provocative. The stories we are already creating for season four promise a pitch-black riot.”
Seriously, just look at this examples of women supporting women, and relinquishing power in order to give someone else the same chance they had to practive their head writer skills:
“After the most incredible year on Killing Eve, I’m so excited the next season is going to be led by such a brilliant talent,” said Season 3 showrunner Suzanne Heathcote. “I cannot wait to see what amazing things Laura’s going to do with this world and the characters in it.”
Killing Eve Season 3 premieres on Sunday, April 26th, at 10:00pm ET on BBC America and AMC. Season 4 of Killing Eve is slated to go into production later this year. More news on Killing Eve Season 4 as we get it.