One of the best things to come out of Peak TV is that because more shows are being made, viewers are getting to hear the voices and stories of so many different creators. It can certainly be overwhelming at times, but if you know how to pick and choose you’ll be able to find something that speaks directly to you. More stories from a more diverse pool of voices is certainly something to celebrate, and if you’ve followed us here at The TV Junkies, then you know we especially love celebrating women in the television industry.
At the end of last year, we saw an article celebrating the female creators of TV and immediately thought of all the awesome women creating stories for Canadian television. The Canadian TV industry as a whole is not nearly as large as its U.S. counterpart, but nonetheless, there’s an amazing amount of women getting it done and making series we love to watch. Since the end of the year is a time to reflect back, we thought now would be the perfect time to shine a light on these very talented women.
Tassie Cameron / Tara Armstrong
Credits: Cameron is executive producer and showrunner of Mary Kills People. Armstrong is creator and co-executive producer of Mary Kills People.
2017 Contributions to Canadian TV: Veteran Cameron joined newcomer Armstrong to deliver Global’s original drama series which also aired on Lifetime in the U.S. While boasting an impressive list of women working behind the scenes, on screen the series followed Dr. Mary Harris (Caroline Dhavernas), a single mother and ER doc by day, who works as an underground angel of death — helping terminally ill patients end things on their own terms. The drama posed smart questions about end of life choices, while also weaving in a compelling mystery into the story.
Credits: Creator, executive producer, director and star of CBC’s Workin’ Moms.
2017 Contributions to Canadian TV: A compelling portrait of the good and bad side to parenthood, and what it’s really like trying to juggle children and a career. The comedy was an emotional reminder how we’re often our own worst critics, and that we shouldn’t be so hard on ourselves all the time. Reitman also used her series as a vehicle to explore issues often considered taboo such as postpartum depression and abortion.
Credits: Co-creator and showrunner of CBC’s X Company
2017 Contributions to Canadian TV: X Company, the thriller that followed a group of highly skilled spies in WWII, concluded its three year run on its own terms, and was always one of Canada’s most prestigious shows. Given the world’s current political climate, X Company’s theme of resistance and standing up for what you believe in became especially relevant, and almost unsettling at times. With the aid of outstanding writing, direction and stellar performances, the soldiers of X Company proved time and again how important it is to never roll over and keep defying. On top of everything else, Morgenstern stepped behind the camera and directed the series’ emotionally satisfying finale.
Adrienne Mitchell / Jane Maggs
Credits: Co-creators of CBC’s Bellevue
2017 Contributions to Canadian TV: Mitchell and Maggs joined forces on the eerie drama, starring Anna Paquin, that followed Detective Annie Ryder as she investigated a missing transgender teen from a small blue-collar town. Full of unexpected twists and turns, the series was rooted in small town beliefs of religion, revenge and mystery, but also explored important aspects of those dealing with mental illness and prejudices facing transgender people. The show will have its U.S. debut on January 23, 2018 on WGN.
Credits: Creator and showrunner of Syfy/Space’s Killjoys
2017 Contributions to Canadian TV: In the third season of the sci-fi drama, which follows a trio of space bounty hunters, Lovretta and her team really turned up the heat. Dutch (Hannah John-Kamen) and Co. sit poised and ready to embark on a battle like never before and against a mysterious foe. From the beginning, Lovretta has made Killjoys one of the most diverse shows on television, in all facets of the word. She took that one step further this year with the introduction of the Hackmod society, made up of actors with real life disabilities, and the focus on several queer relationships. Syfy and Space have renewed the show for a final two seasons, meaning Lovretta will get to tell her story and see the show end exactly on her terms.
Credits: Showrunner of Syfy/Space’s Wynonna Earp
2017 Contributions to Canadian TV: Finding out your lead actress and star of your show is pregnant can throw many a showrunner for a loop. Not Emily Andras. Instead, Andras took Wynonna star Melanie Scrofano’s real life pregnancy and integrated it as part of Wynonna’s on screen story. In the process, Andras and Scrofano gave their audience the pregnant, demon hunting superhero that we all sorely needed in 2017. A passionate fanbase with “no chill” was behind the show’s early renewal, and Season 3 will see Andras and her team back fighting more revenants in 2018.
Michelle Ricci / Carol Hay
Credits: Co-creators of CBC’s Frankie Drake Mysteries
2017 Contributions to Canadian TV: The pair of former Murdoch Mysteries writers-producers brought to life their idea of a fictional female detective in 1920s Toronto. Frankie is bold and brash, and she regularly takes on the cases that the police don’t want — or can’t handle. Led by Lauren Lee Smith in the title role, the four main characters on Frankie are all women, meaning there’s plenty of lady power behind and in front of the scenes to be found.
Credits: Showrunner of CBC’s ANNE
2017 Contributions to Canadian TV: Walley-Beckett was at the helm of the latest reimagining of “Anne of Green Gables,” where she went into bold new territory, added new characters and storylines, all while continuing to explore themes of identity, prejudice, feminism, bullying and empowerment. The former Breaking Bad writer is already at work on a second season in which she hopes to continue to inspire young people around the world with her fierce and irrepressible 14-year-old protagonist.
Aurora Browne / Meredith MacNeill / Carolyn Taylor / Jennifer Whalen
Credits: Creators and stars of CBC’s Baroness Von Sketch Show
2017 Contributions to Canadian TV: The group of four sketch comedy veterans all serve as writers, stars and executive producers on the comedy that was also acquired by IFC in the U.S. Through series of sketches, the Baroness ladies regularly offer up hilarious takes on everyday life that make the show insanely relatable to viewers. But perhaps what’s most refreshing and great about Baroness, is that it showcases real women talking and joking about topics that we’ve only traditionally seen men discuss on screen. With a third season coming next year, the outlook for more laughs is already looking great.
Sarah Polley / Mary Harron
Credits: Writer and Director of CBC’s Alias Grace
2017 Contributions to Canadian TV: The second Margaret Atwood adaptation of 2017, written by Polley and directed by Harron, the six-part Alias Grace is a murder mystery of sorts. It’s based on the real-life case of domestic servant Grace Marks (Sarah Gadon), an Irish immigrant who was imprisoned for potentially murdering her employer and his housekeeper. Polley and Harron ensured that Alias Grace was one of the year’s most feminist dramas, and it also boasted a cast and crew made up of mostly women, while also instilling it with Canadian talent, styles and ideals.
Cynthia Knight / Tracey Deer
Credits: Creators of APTN’s Mohawk Girls
2017 Contributions to Canadian TV: The APTN comedy series entered its fifth and final season in 2017, with a writing team led by Knight and all six episodes directed by Deer. Mohawk not only celebrated women on screen, following four 20-something Mohawk women balancing staying true to their roots while trying to find their own identities, but boasted many women behind the scenes as well. Throughout its five seasons, these Mohawk Girls never shied away from who they were, always had frank conversations about sex and love, and at the end of the day told stories everyone could relate to.
Credits: Showrunner of CBC’s Heartland
2017 Contributions to Canadian TV: The family drama set in the Alberta Mountains is in the middle of an impressive eleventh season. The show follows sisters Amy and Lou Fleming, along with grandfather Jack, as they navigate the highs and lows of owning a horse ranch. Amy is busy dealing with a new baby and Lou entered this season navigating a bit of a love triangle. Dubbed the “Queen of Heartland,” Conkie orchestrates all of the show’s storylines and has worked on the show, one that families truly can watch together, since its beginning.
Karen Knox / Gwenlyn Cumyn
Credits: Creators and stars of KindaTV’s Barbelle
2017 Contributions to Canadian TV: The latest KindaTV web series was the brainchild of creative partners Knox and Cumyn. The pair star as girlfriends and bandmates, Veronica and Alice, who break up behind the scenes, but must keep it a secret from fans and media as they start work on a new album. When positive queer representation is still hard to find on mainstream television, Barbelle puts the relationship between Alice and Veronica front and center. Knox and Cumyn’s writing also effectively shows that women don’t have to be likable all of the time, and because of that, Barbelle’s characters feel relatable and real. With great performances and catchy pop tunes, Barbelle left viewers singing long after they were done watching the ten episode first season.
Who are your favorite female creators in Canadian television? Sound off about them in the comments below!
Editor in Chief Bridget Liszewski comes from a long line of TV Junkies who fostered her love of television from a very young age. She's channeled that passion into covering both US and Canadian television shows, and is thankful everyday for the invention of the DVR. A graduate of the University of Notre Dame, she loves college football and is a fan of sports in general. Bridget is always up for talking TV and you can follow her on twitter at @BridgetOnTV.