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What does a TV Showrunner's Assistant do?

Updated: Feb 20

The showrunner's assistant is an important job in the writers' office, and it can be a great way to get your foot in the door and see what this whole TV writing thing is all about. But what is a showrunner's assistant? What are the job duties? And, more importantly, how do you become a showrunner's assistant?

TV Showrunner's Assistant

What is a showrunner's assistant?

The showrunner's assistant is the executive assistant to the showrunner, the head writer on any TV show. For practical purposes, you can think of a typical executive assistant job, and that would be the general day to day of this job.

A lot of people conflate the job of a writers' assistant and a showrunner's assistant. This makes sense since both titles denote things different to what they actually are.

But as opposed to the writers' assistant, the showrunner's assistant doesn't actually have much to do with the scripts of a TV show.

The showrunner's assistant controls the showrunner's calendar, they answer their phones and they are the intermediary between the showrunner and the dozens of departments of any TV show that need to get in touch with the showrunner.

Let's get into this a little deeper...

On a typical TV show, everybody needs the go-ahead from the showrunner.

The costume department needs the showrunner to give the A-okay for a piece of wardrobe, the set designer needs to clear a certain backdrop, and the list goes on and on.

And these departments are trying to get in touch with the showrunner all the time. Sometimes it's an important network executive calling in and they need the showrunner's attention this instant.

The showrunner's assistant tracks all these calls and tries to let the showrunner showrun as much as they can without bothering them.

Other duties may include getting coffee or lunch, or personal duties depending on the show.

The perks of being a showrunner's assistant

There are times when showrunner's assistants are incredibly busy. There are long periods of time when they are not.

These slow times are a good opportunity to ask if you can sit in the writers' room and see how they come up with episodes of TV. Or just sit at your desk and work on your script. Or just stare into the void until you're told to go home.

But the real perks come if you're a showrunner's assistant to somebody on an overall deal.

See, some writers have deals with studios where they get paid a salary to develop shows. That means a lot of downtime when the showrunner might not come into the office. Heck, they might not even have an office.

So, unless your duties are moved over to personal ones during this period, you could be collecting checks to do nothing. I and many of my friends have experienced this.

The reason is that the studio is paying the showrunner to have an assistant whether they use them or not. So, if they have nothing for you to do, you keep making money and don't have to do much of anything.

The downsides of being a showrunner's assistant

The showrunner's assistant job gives you a great insight into how a writers' office works. But it doesn't show you much regarding the scripting process.

It's also not quite on the assistant track where you could be a writers' assistant and script coordinator and actually work in the room.

Your hours are also dictated completely by the showrunner. This could be great and you're sent home before the writers are. But it could also be bad and you're the last one to leave. It all depends on the environment.

How to find a showrunner's assistant job

These jobs are usually not entry-level. You don't need a ton of experience by any means, but usually those that are hired have been a PA before or have some executive assistant experience somewhere else.

Many also come from the management/agency world and have done the assistant craziness there.

So, these jobs are not easy to come by. But here are some resources that might help in your search:

  • The "I need a..." Facebook groups: Groups like "I need a PA" exist and often include job listings for entry level positions. You may not find a showrunner's assistant job on there, but you might find something close to it.

  • Production Weekly: Every week a list of productions is put out by Production Weekly. Their offices and phone numbers are listed and cold calling these offices has worked for many friends of mine. Unfortunately it does cost to subscribe to this.

  • The UTA Job List: A semi-weekly list of jobs in the entertainment industry. Google it to find the list.


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I'm Anton, a TV writer and author of Breaking Into TV Writing, a book about the business of TV writing and how to get your foot in the door.


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