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May 19, 2012 10:35 PM   Subscribe

So, apparently the term "showrunner" is new to Metafilter and Metafilter is offended by that. Shall we discuss it over here?
posted by Artw to MetaFilter-Related at 10:35 PM (205 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

Only if I can complain about Harmon being booted from Community here, too.

Honestly eyeballkidprobably said it best.
posted by Mezentian at 10:39 PM on May 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


AAARRRGGGHHH. That is all.
posted by oneswellfoop at 10:48 PM on May 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh man, only my third FPP and it gets a 'take it to MetaTalk.' I'm... I'm getting a little choked up!
posted by whitneyarner at 10:49 PM on May 19, 2012 [5 favorites]


Maybe because I have been an arts writer for a few decades, but I was astonished to discover it was not a well-known word here. Describing the person in charge of a teevee show as a showrunner is as common as called the head of a company a CEO. I hear it every day, sometimes several times per day.

That being said, the first time you hear a word, it always sounds weird. Let me demonstrate:

Kalokagathia. It's the combination of the good and the beautiful in a person; the Greeks held it up as an ideal of somebody who was both physically beautiful and moral.

Weird fucking word.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 11:12 PM on May 19, 2012 [29 favorites]


Kalokagathia? Is this something I'd have to be a classics major to understand?
posted by whitneyarner at 11:18 PM on May 19, 2012 [6 favorites]


The stars have stopped in their courses, and the dead rise from the slopes of Kalokagathia.
posted by adamdschneider at 11:22 PM on May 19, 2012 [8 favorites]


In his house at Kalokagathia dead Cthulhu waits dreaming.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 11:31 PM on May 19, 2012 [12 favorites]


Kalokagathia seem like an awesome word, unfortunately it's just not applicable for this, the darkest of timelines.

Now, if you excuse me, my Stephen-King-inspired winter beard has a date with some clippers.

It's goatee time.
For the schadenfreude of it all.
posted by Mezentian at 11:36 PM on May 19, 2012


Community is often brought up in other unrelated threads, so really it's only fair.
posted by ODiV at 11:45 PM on May 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


Can't we just say goodpretty?

I'm not the biggest fan of the word "showrunner," but it's sure a word I know and understand. When I showed my wife Harmon's blogpost at dinner, she did not know the word showrunner at all and I had to explain it.

I guess the word must be transitioning out of insider usage or something, thus the pushback. I suppose if it were to actually be used it in a credits roll it would somehow resolve the issue.

There is something clumsy about the coinage, though. I am pretty sure whoever came up with 'romcom' is to blame.
posted by mwhybark at 11:46 PM on May 19, 2012


Artw: "...and Metafilter is offended by that."

Are we? Are they? Only 2-3 people actually seemed vexed by it.
posted by zarq at 11:49 PM on May 19, 2012 [6 favorites]


Mods should be monitoring flags to delete anything from early in a thread along the lines of "DURRRR I NEVER HEARD OF DIS THING HERES SOME WORDS ABOUT IT DURDYDURRDURR". Or they could just ignore it, but I think that's a bad idea, as derails and angry responses to the derails continue to increase. I've suggested a technological solution before as well, but nothing came of that.

Anyway, yeah, if you don't know a word, google it. It is not the poster's responsibility to guess your areas of inexpertise.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 11:49 PM on May 19, 2012 [12 favorites]


I think Artw did the smart thing. If there's a term that people don't know, they're going to talk about it. If they are mefites, they are probably going to talk about it a lot. Deleting every "what's a showrunner?/showrunner sounds weird" comment is pretty much a nonstarter, since it would be a nice long game of whackamole. But now that there's a Metatalk, there's no reason for people to continue with that line.
posted by taz (staff) at 12:00 AM on May 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


You don't have to delete every single one, just the one that happens within the first 20-30 posts which serve as a derail from the thread's actual line of conversation.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 12:08 AM on May 20, 2012


Were there a lot of comments deleted about the meaning of the word showrunner? Because I'm not really seeing a big derail in the thread.
posted by lalex at 12:11 AM on May 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


I had never heard of the term before. I didn't read that thread because I have no interest in that show, but I'm definitely an example of a person who would have found a definition helpful.
posted by Forktine at 12:12 AM on May 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


There's a trend towards this type of neologism and I'm not overly fond of it, but that's the way language works. We had this back & forth last year about the similar term "war fighter," which is being used frequently in place of soldier, but I don't think we stopped the tide then, either.

Still, it's the kind of minutiae that MeFites love to bicker about ad nauseum, so it might have been a predictable outcome to a long-time member that folks would glom on to that aspect of the post.
posted by Devils Rancher at 12:17 AM on May 20, 2012


No, lalex, there weren't. Almost no comments deleted from that thread.

Potomac Avenue, if we had deleted them from the first 30 comments, someone coming after the first 30 would think "hm, that's a strange word I'm not familiar with," and seeing that no one had brought it up, go ahead and comment about this weird "showrunner" word. This isn't the same thing as a post about gay rights turning into another fight about Obama, for example. It's right there in the title of the linked story, and in the post itself, and if it's unfamiliar it will be commented on.

Now, though, we have a special place for more comments of that kind, and for comments about comments of that kind, which should help, and we'll feel perfectly fine about deleting any more showrunnerbeanplating.
posted by taz (staff) at 12:26 AM on May 20, 2012


I had also never heard of the term before, so I highlighted it, right clicked and selected "search google for 'showrunner'". Then I read the wikipedia entry, returned to the metafilter thread and continued to read. (It took more time to explain just now than it did to do.)
posted by lollusc at 12:32 AM on May 20, 2012 [39 favorites]


(I also would guess I do this several times a day when reading metafilter. And then I'm happy, because I'm learning things.)
posted by lollusc at 12:33 AM on May 20, 2012 [21 favorites]


That was a frustrating and obnoxious derail on a thread that had so many other interesting discussions going on: Was Harmon treated unfairly? Did Harmon deserve to be fired? How important was he in the Community end product? What were the responses from the industry/crew? etc

Whereas a quick search turned up this Slate article which explains the term and informsVariety was using 'showrunner' twenty years ago and The New York Times explained the term as long ago as 1995.
posted by meech at 12:40 AM on May 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


I wonder if there's a divide here between people who listen to DVD commentaries for tv series (in which the term is used) and those who don't.
posted by LobsterMitten at 12:43 AM on May 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


Nobody tell HuronBob about the word Rindfleischetikettierungsüberwachungsaufgabenübertragungsgesetz. He seems to be absolutely terrified of compound words and that one will make him just shit the bed.
posted by Talez at 12:50 AM on May 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


I wonder if there's a divide here between people who listen to DVD commentaries for tv series (in which the term is used) and those who don't.

Never listened to a commentary - entirely familiar with showrunner as a term. Wonder if it's more a split between those who just watch shows and those who read about them on pop culture websites as well? The AV Club, for instance, is where I know it from.
posted by Hobo at 12:52 AM on May 20, 2012


Bunnyultramod, there is no word kalokagathia. There is kalos kai agathos, a phrase used of aristocratic men meaning 'handsome and good.' and an adjective kalos kagathos (with the os ending altering according to match a noun's gender or usage in a sentence, but the combination form, where it forms one word, only appears once or twice and that may be due to manuscript issues.

(Yes, I am fully aware of the irony of being a word pedant in this thread. I just couldn't help myself as this brings back memories of a heated graduate seminar and too many Greek dictionaries.)
posted by lesbiassparrow at 12:57 AM on May 20, 2012 [12 favorites]


I fail to understand why people might find it distressing and/or surprising to learn that a showrunner is somebody who runs the show. See also: breadwinner, shoemaker, bootlicker, pipefitter.
posted by flabdablet at 12:59 AM on May 20, 2012 [24 favorites]


Bunnyultramod, there is no word kalokagathia.

Believe what you will. When Cthulhu rises from his slumber, we'll know the truth of it.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 1:15 AM on May 20, 2012 [8 favorites]


Well he's probably going to eat me whether I got my correction right or wrong, so there's that...
posted by lesbiassparrow at 1:22 AM on May 20, 2012 [7 favorites]


I wonder if there's a divide here between people who listen to DVD commentaries

As sad as it is, I watched The Core several times.
Because of the commentaries.
THE CORE!
I mean, Jesus, I watched The Core more than once. For the meta!
What more do you people want?

/You can read that as Troy. It was written in his voice.
posted by Mezentian at 1:27 AM on May 20, 2012 [4 favorites]


English speakers are just not very used to creating words through concatenation.
posted by joost de vries at 1:28 AM on May 20, 2012


Kalokagathia.
posted by Scattercat at 1:29 AM on May 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


A Kim Dotcom appears from the mist of concatenation.
posted by Mezentian at 1:30 AM on May 20, 2012


I think Artw did the smart thing. If there's a term that people don't know, they're going to talk about it. If they are mefites, they are probably going to talk about it a lot.

I disagree.

The post was about a showrunner. That's a somewhat jargonistic term for a somewhat fluid role in a fairly rareified industry. Given that, it's hardly surprising that some people aren't going to have heard the term, or even if they have, won't have a great deal of clarity about what the role actually entails.

While people went on about it somewhat longer than you'd like -- this is Metafilter. We do that about everything here. But by the time this Meta was created, the issue was pretty well resolved.

If somebody had come along and told a great personal story about what the actual role of a showrunner is, and how their experiences as a showrunner made them a more decent human being -- that would have been a derail as well, but it wouldn't have got a Metatalk call out, it would have got sidebarred instead.

So, what's this post for? To discuss the word's meaning? That was resolved. So we're left with more wanking.

Wank away, folks.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 1:42 AM on May 20, 2012 [4 favorites]


I do not understand the issue here.
posted by Decani at 2:11 AM on May 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


The issue is wanking. I think.
posted by item at 3:11 AM on May 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


The piano has been wanking.
posted by fleacircus at 3:16 AM on May 20, 2012 [4 favorites]


Some people have been complaining about 'showrunner' on MetaFilter since 2008.

</beanplatehipster>
posted by jack_mo at 3:24 AM on May 20, 2012 [6 favorites]


In the future, if folks could tell me EXACTLY what I can talk about, I'll try to stick with the script.

The comment I was going to make in that thread was about how the damn carp seem to be taking over the south side of the lake and I was worried about the impact on the bass fishing over there... but THAT seemed like a derail (unless Harmon likes to fish and I've no clue about that).
posted by HuronBob at 3:54 AM on May 20, 2012


If we are going to eliminate a dumb word "showrunner" is definitely on the list but it is also definitely after "warfighter".
posted by DU at 4:04 AM on May 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


Wait, Google Books is giving me thirty thousand hits for kalokagathia. It's got to at least be an English word.

But besides that, isn't Bunny Ultramod a playwright? Doesn't that mean he gets to make up words whenever he wants, due to apostolic succession from Shakespeare or something?
posted by XMLicious at 4:13 AM on May 20, 2012 [7 favorites]


Cisgendered alt-ac showrunners are the new declawed kittens.
posted by speicus at 4:29 AM on May 20, 2012 [4 favorites]


Wank away, folks.

"Wank Away" Folks was one of the lesser known British Commanders during WWII, wasn't he?

As I recall, he had some odd ideas about discipline.
posted by GenjiandProust at 4:33 AM on May 20, 2012 [8 favorites]


Wait, Google Books is giving me thirty thousand hits for kalokagathia. It's got to at least be an English word.

Well, ancient Greek is always willing to crush anyone who makes a definitive pronouncement about it, especially if they're going on memory, so I'd not be surprised if someone proved my word nerdery wrong.

On topic: I'd no idea showrunner was such a controversial or unusual word. I did once have a dragged out linguistic battle over my use of 'conniptions', though. As a result I try to use it at least once a day.

In conclusion: CONNIPTIONS.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 4:55 AM on May 20, 2012 [5 favorites]


"Showrunner" is a perfectly fine word. I describes the thing the person does pretty well, and in context, I'm not sure how one could be confused by it. I even think "warfighter" is a fine word. I think "planful" is an ugly ugly word that should never be used. It makes Baby Jesus cry. (I would like to think it makes baby_jessamyn cry too, but I'm not sure if it does.)
posted by OmieWise at 4:58 AM on May 20, 2012


Count me as another who doesn't see the need for this to be here. People were discussing the meaning of a word that was unfamiliar to some. It wasn't a derail, nobody was "offended" by it, it just led to some side discussion about the specifics of what a showrunner actually does.
posted by Gator at 5:00 AM on May 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


Oh man, only my third FPP and it gets a 'take it to MetaTalk.' I'm... I'm getting a little choked up!
posted by whitneyarner at 6:49 AM on May 20


Pffft! Noob. I got called out in Metatalk the moment I joined, before I'd even commented. Way back in the years B.M. (Before Mods). It were all fields round here back then... *more rambling*
posted by i_cola at 5:02 AM on May 20, 2012 [4 favorites]


"Can't be bothered to google a word I don't know even though I am obviously already on the internet right now" is a silly-looking place to be.
posted by tomboko at 5:14 AM on May 20, 2012 [19 favorites]


I saw: word I didn't know + guy I've never heard of + show I don't watch. So I skipped the post.
posted by desjardins at 5:17 AM on May 20, 2012 [6 favorites]


Showrunner might be something people in the industry have used for a while, but it's only been popping up in general interest blogs/writing in the last six months to a year. It's a bit pretentious sometimes but it's a good useful word.
posted by the young rope-rider at 5:28 AM on May 20, 2012


It isn't annoying to have a word that people don't instantly understand. Someone asks "huh?" and it is answered. What WAS annoying was the further derail, where it seemed like people refused to believe it was a real word. And then the "I obviously haven't read the discussion" comments re-asking a question that's already been answered.
posted by gjc at 5:50 AM on May 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think the various comments in the thread to the effect of "What kind of moron doesn't know what showrunner means" are more of a derail than the people discussing the meaning of the term. (People who haven't bothered to read the thread before chiming in, of course, are a universal problem and they should be smacked upside their rude heads.)
posted by Gator at 5:58 AM on May 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


For some reason when I hear "showrunner" I think of trains, and the showrunner is the guy up front making sure it gets to its destination. Plenty of other things responsible for its moving and its going where it goes, but the showrunner's the... conductor? Or something? I don't actually know what a conductor really does up there? Anyway, the point is I used to really like trains.

Honestly eyeballkidprobably said it best.

Wrong because Parks and Rec is not just "shoveling shit". Its third season was one of the all-time best seasons of any comedy ever, and it blew away Community's second season, which it ran next to. (Community 3 and Parks and Rec 4 were both kind of disappointing, so we'll call that one a draw.)
posted by Rory Marinich at 6:02 AM on May 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


For me, "showrunner" comes off as pretentious and trendy. Is that why its getting criticized? Its a fairly new word, right? What was the title for that person before showrunner was used?
posted by DarkForest at 6:05 AM on May 20, 2012


When did the term "showrunner" come about?
posted by absalom at 6:21 AM on May 20, 2012


I don't actually know what a conductor really does up there?

He generally makes sure that electricity has a path between points on the train. There's an equivalent job on the crew of a big-rig truck, but they're called semi-conductors.
posted by griphus at 6:32 AM on May 20, 2012 [22 favorites]


I knew about it from I think reading about Buffy and the like back in the day but I think it's still pretty much unused in the UK... the big exception being when RTD rebooted Dr Who and it's still used for Moffat.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 6:38 AM on May 20, 2012


Maybe the compound word's jarring to people who haven't seen it before because of the double meaning of "runner" (athletic and administrative)? And because (as HuronBob's initial post suggests) "showrunner" is a show business term and there are quite a few titles with "runner" in the more or less athletic meaning: Blade Runner, Road Runner, The Kite Runner, The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner?

It is interesting to me which neologisms (or new uses of words) people pick to have problems with, and why. Someone I know recorded a whole radio segment about how bad "proactive" is, claiming that it always means the same as "active." Well, no, it doesn't. I think there are reasons to dislike the word though-- or rather the way a lot of people use it. Neologisms (or other specialized terms) always ping my radar when they sound like something a boss might use in a meeting to lie to, or try to brainwash, subordinates. Something that's been handed down by corporate. Although I notice in most of my jobs, language from corporate seems to be pretty folksy. It's the middle managers who go around saying things like "proactive." I'd be happy never to hear the word again for that reason. Same goes for "monetize" even though that's a perfectly good word. "Showrunner" doesn't happen to make me feel suspicious on that kind of level, but maybe it should?
posted by BibiRose at 6:44 AM on May 20, 2012


I didn't know what it meant, so I read the link and all was revealed.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:49 AM on May 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


What I found weird about "showrunner" baffling so many people was that they were Community fans--the most "inside-TV" show imaginable. You'd think that if you hadn't heard the term "showrunner" before that almost everything Abed said would be utterly incomprehensible to you. It's as if it were a thread on the "The West Wing" and people were being stumped by the term "Secretary-General" ("wait...so this guy's not a secretary secretary, right? And he's not in the military? So why on earth would they call him that?!?").
posted by yoink at 6:58 AM on May 20, 2012 [9 favorites]


So, what's this post for? To discuss the word's meaning? That was resolved. So we're left with more wanking.

I think this is a good meta for the larger issue of people who don't know what something means and make a point of saying so in the thread. It reminds me quite a bit of the "cisgender" metatalk we had a few months ago, which was about a similar phenomenon of idiots loudly trumpeting that they Can't Possibly Understand The Utility Of A Word rather than quietly googling and moving on.
posted by Greg Nog at 7:01 AM on May 20, 2012 [11 favorites]


Can we also discuss "dropping a single"? Because, man, that bothers me.
posted by tommasz at 7:11 AM on May 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah, there's a spectrum of acceptability as far as loudly proclaiming your lack of knowledge on a topic especially one where a quick Google would tell you exactly what it meant. If people want to discuss whether it's okay to use words that Some People Don't Know in a MeFi post, this is a better place to do it instead of grousing in threads. With our prickly userbase, it's often a great idea to keep a lot of the irritable reactions down to a minimum because they breed like rabbits and quickly overcome a thread that was supposed to be about something else.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:12 AM on May 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


For me, "showrunner" comes off as pretentious and trendy

Which is why I hate "artisanal," "craft ___ (usually beer)," etc.
posted by desjardins at 7:12 AM on May 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


They're saying "Kraft." Now have some delicious Mini Chips Ahoy Cookies.
posted by mintcake! at 7:19 AM on May 20, 2012


IMDB lists his credits as Writer, Producer and Creator for Community. A showrunner isn't always the creator of a series, but is almost always a writer/producer. I can't imagine why anyone thinks a television industry term is "pretentious and trendy"--is a gaffer trendy?
posted by Ideefixe at 7:22 AM on May 20, 2012


Is this where I can link to my link to my fanfics Showrunner of Gor and Warfighter of Gor?

I think they might help.
posted by Mezentian at 7:29 AM on May 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


People are pissy and upset because a thing they love is changing. It sucks. Community isn't my bag, but I understand the general stampiness. 'Showrunner' seems to describe the job pretty well, though. Hugs, you guys.
posted by mintcake! at 7:31 AM on May 20, 2012


I've been familiar with the term since Lost was on the air, and probably had heard it before that in the context of Buffy or Babylon 5. It's a perfectly useful word for guys like Damon Lindelhof where 'writer' or 'producer' doesn't really capture what they do for the show.
posted by empath at 7:49 AM on May 20, 2012


What I found weird about "showrunner" baffling so many people was that they were Community fans

More baffling that that- HuronBob's son is a movie producer, I think.
posted by empath at 7:50 AM on May 20, 2012


They're saying "Kraft." Now have some delicious Mini Chips Ahoy Cookies.
posted by mintcake! 33 minutes ago [+]

posted by desjardins at 7:54 AM on May 20, 2012


fearfulsymmetry: "I knew about it from I think reading about Buffy and the like back in the day but I think it's still pretty much unused in the UK... the big exception being when RTD rebooted Dr Who and it's still used for Moffat."

Yeah, the term seems to be stuck in a Whovian ghetto over here (though Wikipedia claims the first British auteur dubbed a showrunner was the creator of Holby CIty!).

The only other British folk one might think of as showrunners are Ricky Gervais/Stephen Merchant, though since they take acting roles in stuff they write, direct and produce they might need another word. Shactorunners?
posted by jack_mo at 7:57 AM on May 20, 2012


In the future, if folks could tell me EXACTLY what I can talk about, I'll try to stick with the script.

The topic at hand?
posted by Talez at 7:59 AM on May 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Can we also discuss "dropping a single"? Because, man, that bothers me.

Imagine how I felt hearing a song lyric about "dropping deuces out the window." WHY WOULD SOMEONE DO THAT???!!!!
posted by discopolo at 8:01 AM on May 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


Showrunners offend me.

Not the word. Just showrunners.
posted by mazola at 8:08 AM on May 20, 2012


Can we also discuss "dropping a single"? Because, man, that bothers me.

As opposed to dropping a deuce?
posted by jonmc at 8:10 AM on May 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't feel like I encountered this word until a couple of years ago and now I see it all the time, including in newspapers and such, so I was surprised to see all these people going all incredulous over it.

I think Lost is when I first started seeing it, and I keep seeing Matthew Weiner referred to as the show runner of Mad Men, etc.
posted by dfan at 8:13 AM on May 20, 2012


(though Wikipedia claims the first British auteur dubbed a showrunner was the creator of Holby CIty!)

Woah!

Interesting seeing My Family get a mention (though I'll maintain I've only heard 'showrunner' used with Who) as it was produced using the 'American' method of having a writing team/room rather than the usual Brit method of one writer / writing partnership scripting the whole thing. (That being the only interesting thing about it, apart from may be its utter crapness.)
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 8:18 AM on May 20, 2012


For me, "showrunner" comes off as pretentious and trendy

Which is why I hate "artisanal," "craft ___ (usually beer)," etc.


Well, the thing is, those are both useful words, with distinct meanings in terms of beer (less so with artisanal). Which is sort of the point, of the Meta, that words that

Craft brew is usually used to cover things that aren't mass produced American Lagers (as in the style, not as in from America), pretty much Sam Adams on down. There's some debate as to "Blue Moon," but that happens to edge cases with definitions. If you look in liquor stores (at least around here), you'll find it pretty standard to separate out the Coors, Bud, etc. from the Craft beer. It's a useful divide to have in the industry, because the mass produced stuff sells better, is cheaper, and the people who get it (generally) aren't as willing to try new beers. Those differences all effect how you market it and display the product.

Now artisanal as applied to beer is less well defined, but is the extremely small (production wise) end of the scale. I like to think of it is the guy at Crooked Stave. He does a lot of small batch beers, and each one is unique. He also has a very small distribution. It also connotes a difference in approach to microbrew. I've only seen it applied to folks who specialize in one sort of beer, Crooked Staves' case it's sour beers, but it could equally apply to making traditional English real ale, or Belgian strong beers, Rauchbeers, etc. It's not so much a distinction that serves the people selling the beer (because in a lot of cases, it's just the guys who make it), but is for the people buying the beer.

So, you know just because to an outsider the word is unnecessary doesn't mean that it is.
posted by Gygesringtone at 8:25 AM on May 20, 2012 [4 favorites]


Which is why I hate "artisanal,"

artisanal generally means 'prepeare to pay too much.'
posted by jonmc at 8:48 AM on May 20, 2012 [5 favorites]


More baffling that that- HuronBob's son is a movie producer, I think.

heh, Ironically many of his duties fall into that definition, in that his producer title is seldom an honorific, he's a working member of the artistic team...but, I've never heard that word used in reference to a movie production (not that it might not be, they probably don't use it in front of me to avoid my making jokey comments about the word and causing a major disruption on the set).

Folks, I'm sorry my one off, intended as humorous but obviously missed the boat comment has caused so much dismay, that certainly wasn't the intent. I'm honestly a bit surprised that the discussion of the word was viewed as a derail of the conversation, but, I've a better understanding about expectations around what might constitute a derail, I'll try to abide by that expectation in the future.

And, Greg Nog, this idiot DID google it, in fact I stated that I had looked it up.
posted by HuronBob at 8:56 AM on May 20, 2012


Yeah, I'm not sure what producing movies has to do with knowing about showrunners. I don't understand why those people don't get credits. I mean, it's possible to be a showrunner without being a show creator or episode director or anything, right? So, are there people out there running shows who get no formal credits at all?
posted by adamdschneider at 9:03 AM on May 20, 2012


BibiRose writes "there are quite a few titles with 'runner' in the more or less athletic meaning: Blade Runner, Road Runner, The Kite Runner, The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner? "

Let's not forget carpet runner.
posted by Mitheral at 9:17 AM on May 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


If we are going to eliminate a dumb word "showrunner" is definitely on the list but it is also definitely after "warfighter".

I am sometimes of the opinion that people who use the word birth as a verb -- She birthed a movement, He birthed an idea, Knownothings don't know nothin' about birthin' no babies, etc. -- should be subject to immediate retroactive abortions, no matter what their chronological age may be.
posted by y2karl at 9:18 AM on May 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


So the controversy isn't about people not being able to parse what "showrunner" means, or Google it, but about refusing to consider it a real word? Do I have that right? If so, I'd like to know how these people believe words come into being. Language committees? Sly dictionary editors? The Word Fairy?
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 9:19 AM on May 20, 2012 [9 favorites]


Or then there are drug runners and gun runners...
posted by bardophile at 9:23 AM on May 20, 2012


"Showrunner" is the word for people who are in charge of TV shows, just as "CEO" is the word for people in charge of corporations. It's in Entertainment Weekly and TV Guide and Variety and The Hollywood Reporter; it's in Time magazine and your local newspaper.

Whether anyone likes it or not, the showrunner ship has sailed, dancing has commenced on the Lido deck, and Isaac is mixing up some mighty tasty cocktails in the first-class bar.
posted by Sidhedevil at 9:23 AM on May 20, 2012 [4 favorites]


*double snaps and points, friendly laughter*
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 9:26 AM on May 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't understand why those people don't get credits.

They're credited as executive producers. In the end credits on the Simpsons, it's always the first executive producer listed, but there's no industry standard so it can be difficult to tell at a glance. "Executive Producer" can mean so many things now, which is the whole reason the term was invented. Why it's not used as an actual credit is anyone's guess.
posted by Lorin at 9:26 AM on May 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Why it's not used as an actual credit is anyone's guess .... I'm not having a hard time guessing the answer to that.
posted by HuronBob at 9:29 AM on May 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I'm not sure what producing movies has to do with knowing about showrunners. I don't understand why those people don't get credits. I mean, it's possible to be a showrunner without being a show creator or episode director or anything, right? So, are there people out there running shows who get no formal credits at all?

It's more that they wear multiple hats and have multiple credits. I'm not sure that all tv shows even have them.
posted by empath at 9:52 AM on May 20, 2012


The term showrunner is new to me. It does not pass metafilter's spellcheck. (Metafilter and spellcheck also do not pass metafilter's spellcheck!) When I was going through puberty this person was called either the host or the master of ceremonies, as best as I can recall. You can infer that it has been quite a few years since my puberty if you want.
posted by bukvich at 9:54 AM on May 20, 2012


How dumb do you have to be to not be able to Google an unfamiliar word in 20-fuckin'-12? I can understand some degree of puzzlement if an unfamiliar word comes up during a face to face conversation, but I can search a word on a web-page within a few seconds, much faster than asking.
posted by atrazine at 9:55 AM on May 20, 2012 [4 favorites]


Clearly the people who don't get "showrunner" are streets behind.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 9:55 AM on May 20, 2012 [7 favorites]


What I found weird about "showrunner" baffling so many people was that they were Community fans--the most "inside-TV" show imaginable.

This is pretty much where my feelings were as well. It seemed odd that someone could possibly be a passionate enough "Community" fan as to know who Dan Harmon was in relation to the show and have a strong opinion on the potential quality or lack thereof of the show in his absence, but simultaneously find the term showrunner to be somehow confounding.
posted by The Gooch at 9:57 AM on May 20, 2012


So basically, whenever I finally make a FPP (I'm now leaning towards doing it after the sum of all my comments/answers/etc. exceeds 3000, and my total number of front-page-only comments exceeds 300) I'll go ahead and provide a glossary (maybe via a tag) for every word I use that's not in the Basic English Word List. That'll be fun. I wonder how I'll communicate this to the mods I email the text to in advance. Maybe I'll put it on my website first...
posted by SMPA at 10:10 AM on May 20, 2012


does not pass metafilter's spellcheck

Metafilter does not have a spellcheck. The spellchecking you get when you're writing comments is being done by your browser.

Also "host" and "master of ceremonies" have nothing to do with showrunning.
posted by yoink at 10:11 AM on May 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


oesn't that mean he gets to make up words whenever he wants

Funfornately!
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 10:12 AM on May 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


Ha! Now that I see the names involved, everything makes perfect sense. Well played!
posted by Ardiril at 10:16 AM on May 20, 2012


It's more that they wear multiple hats and have multiple credits. I'm not sure that all tv shows even have them.

Yes, all TV shows have a showrunner. I think the main reason they're referred to as showrunners is because many shows have multiple Executive Producers and Co-EPs, and you refer to the top dog as the showrunner to avoid confusion and to make it clear who's the person responsible for the creative direction of the show. That is the person who is running the show.

Movies don't have showrunners. The director is the top dog there.
posted by OolooKitty at 10:26 AM on May 20, 2012


It is two words in the New York Times:
But if “Community” should reach those far-flung milestones, it will have to do so with out its creator, Dan Harmon, who on Friday night was let go as the show runner of the series.
but sometimes it appears in quotes:
The news that the sitcom's creator, Dan Harmon, was being replaced as "show runner" will no doubt be a blow to the show's rabid (if relatively small) fan base.
posted by pracowity at 10:26 AM on May 20, 2012


"Wank Away" Folks was one of the lesser known British Commanders during WWII, wasn't he?

Indeed, but at the risk of coming across (as it were) pedantic, Folks's nickname was of course inspired by the well-known sea shanty "Wank Away, Lads":

Off we go, away to sea
Out of sight, the land shall be!
Yet there's more to life than seasalt and brine
Why, I'll yank yours if you pull mine!

Wank away, lads
Wank away, lads
A blue wave is bless'd
But a blue ball is sad...
Wank away, lads
Wank away, lads
Ya can't tree a shark
But there's nut to be had!

When I first signed on, ten years and three
I thought I'd been sentenced to Purga'try
Then I was told that when wood goes hard
Ya go to the kitchen and coat it in...


Well, you get the idea; we're all men and women of the world here. So! Showrunners!
posted by kittens for breakfast at 10:28 AM on May 20, 2012 [5 favorites]


Well, at least the NYT is consistent with the two word formulation. Love the sniff quotes, though.
posted by mwhybark at 10:41 AM on May 20, 2012


Regarding "Wank Away" Folks, isn't there some uncertainty regarding his preferred surname spelling? I'm sure I've seen it spelt "ffoulkes" and "Fochs" in various sources.
posted by mwhybark at 10:43 AM on May 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


There was a time when I didn't know what "showrunner" meant. That time lasted up to the moment I read a sentence that referred to Russell T Davies being the showrunner for Doctor Who, after which I magically knew what the word meant.
posted by philipy at 10:52 AM on May 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


Regarding "Wank Away" Folks, isn't there some uncertainty regarding his preferred surname spelling? I'm sure I've seen it spelt "ffoulkes" and "Fochs" in various sources.

The Fochs family were minor nobles from the Palatinate who came to England shortly after the Glorious Revolution. They changed the spelling during the Great War as a patriotic gesture.
posted by atrazine at 11:40 AM on May 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


MetaFilter: DURRRR I NEVER HEARD OF DIS THING HERES SOME WORDS ABOUT IT DURDYDURRDURR
posted by batmonkey at 11:43 AM on May 20, 2012


My main problem with that post is that I left a period off of the second sentence. DAMN IT.
posted by whitneyarner at 11:53 AM on May 20, 2012


SMPA, people would then no doubt complain bitterly about the dictionary or glossary you referenced. They already complain about word choices, article sources, perceived author biases and motivations, corporate influences, link quantities, fonts, tenses, grammatical catastrophes and everything else under the sun. Anything is fair game, and we all have our own baggage.

You can't avoid cranky people. Grumps gonna grump. Construct your posts as best you can and try not to worry about every contingency, 'cause you'll never be able to compensate for 'em all. Post because you want to share something cool or interesting with the group and don't worry if people are going to like it. Some will, some won't. Life happens.
posted by zarq at 12:12 PM on May 20, 2012


I wasn't familiar with the word "showrunner," but it was instantly apparent what it meant in context.
posted by planet at 12:23 PM on May 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Already knew showrunner. I've heard it used on a general interest radio interview show several times. I know a showrunner, (Dexter,) and it seemed really unfair that the title is not as grand as it should be.

I had not seen the word cackhanded until I saw it on here toady, just minutes after seeing it somewhere else. Both are trending upward, and so should be welcomed here, no?

Kalokagathia peaked somewhere around 1927, maybe that one's more of a specialty item, for Monty Burns dialogue and GOML rants.
posted by StickyCarpet at 12:29 PM on May 20, 2012


Already knew kalokagathia, but mainly because I butt-headedly insisted on reading all kinds of Greek my professor assured me was worthless. (She was right.)

Also:

Shooow-runner! The Coyote's after you!
Shooow-runner! If he catches you you're through!


posted by trip and a half at 1:00 PM on May 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Hmmm: that was supposed to say, "Meep! Meep!" after it.
posted by trip and a half at 1:03 PM on May 20, 2012


Showrunner and wheelhouse are two words I have heard more in the last two months than in the 40 odd years before that. Showrunner is at least self explanatory--someone who runs a show, someone who runs with a show, someone who carries a show like a baton while they run with it. But fucking wheelhouse still has me confused, imagining a house made out of wheels, or a house filled with nothing but wheels, or a house driving around on wheels, none of which seem to have anything to do with a repository for a person's particular strengths unless that person is some weird wheel-based-strength superhero and I missed the memo.

All of which is to simply say, as words-suddenly-getting-bandied-about go, showrunner bothers me not one bit.
posted by onlyconnect at 1:23 PM on May 20, 2012


As OolooKitty and a few others have explained, 'Producer' and 'Executive Producer' long since been diluted into meaninglessness, as it can refer equally to someone who works 16/7 making a show happen, all the way to someone nobody involved with the show has ever met whose credit was a side effect or payoff of some business negotiation that occurred at some point during development. Showrunner is a nice unambiguous term that cuts through all that.
posted by George_Spiggott at 1:26 PM on May 20, 2012


What baffled me was the nearly rage-like focus on the meaning of showrunner in a thread which documented to what amounts to the likely creative end of Community. PRIORITIES PEOPLE!

Not to mention, "show runner" is one of those words which kind of explain themselves...
posted by Atreides at 1:48 PM on May 20, 2012


I had also never heard of the term before, so I highlighted it, right clicked and selected "search google for 'showrunner'".

Thank lollusc! I never knew about right clicking and selecting google. Two new things learned!
posted by a humble nudibranch at 1:51 PM on May 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


"Wheelhouse" appears to refer to the cabin on a boat or ship where the steering wheel is located. It is therefore the domain of the captain, and the captain is a confident and in control person.

The "wheelhouse", you see, is where you are a Viking.
posted by Errant at 1:54 PM on May 20, 2012 [12 favorites]


The stars have stopped in their courses, and the dead rise from the slopes of Kalokagathia.
posted by adamdschneider at 11:22 PM on May 19 [2 favorites +] [!]


Ancient Greek , spoken authentically, sounds very different from Modern Greek and is an alien sound when first introduced to English speaker ears
posted by Bwithh at 2:00 PM on May 20, 2012


I had never heard the term "showrunner" before, but I instantly figured out it is the guy who has to make the coffee and donuts run.
posted by found missing at 2:06 PM on May 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think the proper term is fernsehsendung-oberster-führer, how about we go with that instead?
posted by Chekhovian at 2:07 PM on May 20, 2012


Ancient Greek , spoken authentically, sounds very different from Modern Greek and is an alien sound when first introduced to English speaker ears

One of my silliest proud moments was when I heard second-hand that my Greek professor (an ancient nun) bragged to her cohorts that I pronounced Ancient Greek like an ancient Greek. I always wondered how she knew.

(It is true from what is known that the ancient pronunciation was very different from the modern.)
posted by trip and a half at 2:17 PM on May 20, 2012


It's a perfectly cromulent word.
posted by rtha at 2:17 PM on May 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


So I'm the only one who hears that annoying Enya tune if I try and put "Wank Away" to music?
posted by Specklet at 2:29 PM on May 20, 2012 [5 favorites]


Devils Rancher: There's a trend towards this type of neologism and I'm not overly fond of it

This is one of the longest trends I know of, then--the term's been around since the late 80's/early 90's. I remember Chris Carter being referred to as a showrunner for the X-Files in 1995.

DarkForest: Its a fairly new word, right?

Nope.

What was the title for that person before showrunner was used?

There was no such position as showrunner before the term was coined--which is why it was coined. Absalom linked to an explanation of why the term came about upthread.
posted by tzikeh at 2:45 PM on May 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


Ugh. "...was probably very different..." I give up.
posted by trip and a half at 2:47 PM on May 20, 2012


Totes? Really? And people complain about showrunner?
posted by Splunge at 2:47 PM on May 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


"Wank Away" Folks was one of the lesser known British Commanders during WWII, wasn't he?

You must be misremembering. The Battle of Wangh' aw-Wey was fought in eastern Libya, a desperate rearguard action in late June 1942, between the Battle of Gazala and the First Battle of El Alamein. The South Africans, under Klopper and Pienaar had been Crüwelly surrounded during the retreat, and had to be rescued by the combined British forces of Mountain-Purves. Klopper was killed early on, but the British fought bravely to get their Pienaar out of the Nazis grasp, even bringing up field guns to give them a heavy pounding. After much back and forth, Pienaar was freed and avoided the terrible consummation of spending the rest of the war in bondage, where such enervating conditions would undoubtedly caused him to run to seed. For their efforts, the rescuers were forever known as Wangh'ers, and bestowed with a special bright red beret to wear when standing proud or on parade. Because of this, "Wangh' aw-Wei" is now a common British idiom meaning "keep going til the end", or more recently weakened to just "keep your pecker up".

posted by Jehan at 2:54 PM on May 20, 2012 [7 favorites]


Showrunner seems to be a perfectly good word that fits a niche that was vacant.

However, a couple weeks ago on the green, I got introduced to the worst neologism ever. "pitchy" is a word invented by and for reality tv music shows and apparently means "off pitch". It is not at all clear why this word was invented or why it has caught on the way it has. Perhaps it sounds a little more jargony than "off pitch", "off key", or "out of tune"? Rest assured that any real musician will just look at you confusedly if you say "pitchy".
posted by hydropsyche at 3:04 PM on May 20, 2012


Yes, but "pitchy" is perfectly understandable when followed with "dawg."
posted by The Deej at 3:44 PM on May 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


However, a couple weeks ago on the green, I got introduced to the worst neologism ever. "pitchy" is a word invented by and for reality tv music shows and apparently means "off pitch". It is not at all clear why this word was invented or why it has caught on the way it has. Perhaps it sounds a little more jargony than "off pitch", "off key", or "out of tune"? Rest assured that any real musician will just look at you confusedly if you say "pitchy".

I’m going to have to disagree with you there. "Pitchy" is so common in recording that I had to read that a couple of times to figure out your meaning. I can’t imagine someone in a studio saying "off pitch" or "off key", that would be a sign that I was watching a Made For TV Movie or something. "Out of tune" is OK, but it sounds a little more insulting, and makes it sound like your pitch is just constantly out. Pitchy implies that you’re just missing the mark sometimes, a little loose.

Don’t insult the talent, it doesn’t make anyone’s job easier.

The pitch is a little off.
It’s a little out.
It’s a little wide.
It’s a little flat/sharp.

Like some have said, every field, and individuals within that field, have their own jargon, I just think it’s weird to expect everyone to know it. But I think it’s silly and annoying how "behind the scenes" everything has gotten.

Could someone have the Showrunner get me an iced coffee from Starbucks, no syrup, light on the ice? Thanks.
posted by bongo_x at 4:31 PM on May 20, 2012 [4 favorites]


Surely there's some precise inside Starbucks lingo you could use to say that!
posted by whitneyarner at 4:32 PM on May 20, 2012


Surely there's some precise inside Starbucks lingo you could use to say that!

There is, and it makes me crazy when they ask me if I want "classic" or not. It’s freakin’ simple syrup, call it some variation of that, or better yet, please just ask if I want it sweetened. I don’t want to learn your lingo.
posted by bongo_x at 4:38 PM on May 20, 2012


You'll never be a Starbucksrunner at this rate!
posted by whitneyarner at 4:41 PM on May 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


There was no such position as showrunner before the term was coined

Really? What about people like Gene Roddenberry orr Rod Serling?
posted by DarkForest at 4:41 PM on May 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


The one I personally can't stand for some reason is the term 'sizzle reel' for what used to be promo, or demo reel or clips package etc. I nearly gets my eye twitching.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 4:42 PM on May 20, 2012


I remember the first time I saw the word. Huh, I thought. That probably means someone who runs a show.
posted by Sebmojo at 4:43 PM on May 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'd add an 'ad' to my nametag, sport a blue mohawk and a trench coat, carry a gigantic laptop and annoy people by asking if I could 'jack in' all the time.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 4:50 PM on May 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


There was no such position as showrunner before the term was coined

There was always such a position. They used to be referred to as "The E.P."
posted by OolooKitty at 4:53 PM on May 20, 2012


Rest assured that any real musician will just look at you confusedly if you say "pitchy".

Recording producers have said it to back-up singers, at least, since the 1980s, because that was the last time I did that work and it was something they said all the goddamned time (and they were usually wrong; it was usually the guitar tracks that were off).

You may discuss whether or not people who produce and perform on radio jingles are "real musicians" if you like.
posted by Sidhedevil at 4:54 PM on May 20, 2012


"Pitchy" is so common in recording that I had to read that a couple of times to figure out your meaning. I can’t imagine someone in a studio saying "off pitch" or "off key", that would be a sign that I was watching a Made For TV Movie or something.

I guess it's a recording music thing, then. Popular music, I'm guessing? I've been a choral singer all of my life and an instrumentalist as well and had never heard it until this annoying reality tv music thing. "Off pitch", "off key", "out of tune", "a little flat", "a little sharp" are all valid, even helpful things that are said all the time in both choral and orchestral rehearsals. If you said "pitchy" in a choral setting, people really would be confused, unless they had done recordings, I guess?
posted by hydropsyche at 4:55 PM on May 20, 2012


There was always such a position. They used to be referred to as "The E.P."

Yep yep. And then along came title inflation and title explosion, and now there needs to be a new word to designate, from among a large group of "executive producers" and "senior producers" and "executive senior producers" (I have actually seen the last one in the wild, though I remain hopeful it will not catch on) the person who is actually doing the work of running the show. Hence "showrunner".
posted by Sidhedevil at 4:56 PM on May 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


-hydropsyche-

I was going to say that, but thought I had rambled enough.

Yes, but "pitchy" is perfectly understandable when followed with "dawg."

I haven’t seen the show, but this makes me think you’re talking about Randy Jackson, who is a studio guy, and would explain his use of "pitchy".
posted by bongo_x at 4:59 PM on May 20, 2012


For a little taste of what showrunning is, Bill Lawrence's (s.r. for Spin City, Scrubs and Cougartown) interview on Marc Maron's WTF Podcast is tasty.
posted by morganw at 5:02 PM on May 20, 2012


Related to "pitchy": do people other than choristers use "flat" and "sharp" as verbs? As in, "the basses flatted a half-step over the last eight measures."
posted by en forme de poire at 6:15 PM on May 20, 2012


Only when I preserve unburnished gilding, or when I am living with others in an apartment in Chelsea.

And I never sharp.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 6:29 PM on May 20, 2012


I sharped once, in college.
posted by maryr at 6:36 PM on May 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Very strange. My exposure to the inner workings of television industry is restricted to "Battle of the Network Stars" and "TV's Bloopers and Practical Jokes," yet even I know what a showrunner is. And people were fighting over this?
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:01 PM on May 20, 2012


I oblique a lot. But not here. Of course I like to be considered a smallshower. As opposed to a biggrower.
posted by Splunge at 7:16 PM on May 20, 2012


As in, "the basses flatted a half-step over the last eight measures."

I have no idea what that means.

yet even I know what a showrunner is. And people were fighting over this?

I’m not sure fighting is the right word. Some people said it was a weird term, and this made some people angry.
posted by bongo_x at 7:21 PM on May 20, 2012


The Word Fairy

If only I didn't already have a sockpuppet...
posted by XMLicious at 7:42 PM on May 20, 2012


this is a better place to do it instead of grousing in threads

I hope it's OK if I continue to grouse in threads on the blue.

Regarding "showrunner," what happens when it becomes a term that can be given to people who aren't actually the person running out of the show? Maybe This seems analogous to the "euphemism treadmill" where people keep coming up with new words for the same thing as the old terms lose their effectiveness.
posted by grouse at 7:52 PM on May 20, 2012


"showrunner" is definitely on the list but it is also definitely after "warfighter"


I sure don't need them when I've already got warrior and showrior.
posted by BinGregory at 8:48 PM on May 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Given the Inspector Spacetime stuff, and RTD vs. Moffatt, that thread was a weird glimpse at the people who love Community but apparently know nothing about Doctor Who.
posted by Navelgazer at 9:21 PM on May 20, 2012


A showrunner is a producer who is over 30. #seagreens
posted by eddydamascene at 10:17 PM on May 20, 2012


Metafilter does not have a spellcheck.

It used to have a spellcheck and by rights, it ought to have a spellcheck -- I mean, it's an eminently logical and helpful convenience -- but that particular pony was put down for reasons of apparently questionable justification.
posted by y2karl at 10:23 PM on May 20, 2012


I first read the term showrunner used in relation to David Simon and The Wire. So if you'd never heard the term before, you're obviously not a big enough fan of The Wire.
posted by onya at 10:50 PM on May 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


So the controversy isn't about people not being able to parse what "showrunner" means, or Google it, but about refusing to consider it a real word? Do I have that right? If so, I'd like to know how these people believe words come into being. Language committees? Sly dictionary editors? The Word Fairy?

For some reason, this reminded me of a story I recently heard about Georg Lurich, an early 20th century Estonian wrestler (a Greco-Roman wrestler, to be more precise, which I think ties it in pretty well with this discussion), strongman, and legend. During his career, he travelled all over the world, performing feats of strength and showing off his awesome body. The story is that he once visited Egypt on his tours. A local sheikh was so impressed by Lurich's strength -- when he locked his hands, two camels couldn't pull them apart -- that he gifted him a camel. This camel was then taken to Estonia and shown off at fairs. Many peasant farmers came to see the incredible animal and one of them was especially fascinated by it. He walked several rounds around the beast, bowed down to look at its feet and so on. Finally, he shook his head and walked away, saying: "No, this animal does not exist."
posted by daniel_charms at 11:13 PM on May 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


Regarding "Wank Away" Folks, isn't there some uncertainty regarding his preferred surname spelling? I'm sure I've seen it spelt "ffoulkes" and "Fochs" in various sources.

Ah, yes, Admiral of the Fleet Sir Wankawaye Cromulent Faulks KCB!

From what I understand, he was not liked so much but well admired by those who served under his command, due to the fact he would be found secretly observing their activities while they were taking leave below deck. Thus, often would be heard on the ship by men in their leisure, "Bloody hell! There he is again, Wankaway Faulks!" This exclamation tended to provoke two entirely separate responses and a great deal of confusion as to whether it was meant to be a warning that the commander is watching, or a signal that all is clear.
posted by krinklyfig at 11:13 PM on May 20, 2012


a story I recently heard - from Mefi's own Pyrogenesis, to give credit where credit is due.
posted by daniel_charms at 11:18 PM on May 20, 2012


I've read this whole thread and nobody has said "The Wire" or David Simon. We only have "The Wire" because David Simon was the showrunner. He's the showrunner of "Treme" and that's how you know some character you care about is going to die in the penultimate episode of the season, because David Simon, showrunner. (Soon spellcheck will stop underlining showrunner. English does not work like French, thank you very much.)
posted by Anitanola at 11:49 PM on May 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


I used a time machine.
posted by onya at 11:53 PM on May 20, 2012 [5 favorites]


Have you guys ever seen that show "30 Rock"? Liz Lemon is the showrunner of T.G.S. She is the head writer and is generally in charge of everything.
posted by chrchr at 12:44 AM on May 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


In my house, I am the breakfastrunner.
posted by zaelic at 1:02 AM on May 21, 2012


My apologies to y2karl for blatantly disagreeing with what he just said about spellcheck and
abject apologies to anya for claiming nobody said David Simon when she had within the space of the previous hour said David Simon.

anya, obviously it takes me an hour or more to write right, right?

And anyway, y2karl, spellcheck does whatever it wants, Metafilter be damned, says spellcheck, spellcheck will redline Metafilter!
posted by Anitanola at 2:13 AM on May 21, 2012


"Showrunner" is peculiar to American TV, although I've heard Steven Moffat being described as a showrunner, so maybe like season (instead of series) it's becoming The Correct Term out of convenience ('season' doesn't apply here as we have shorter series in general and they don't tend to be shown at specific calendar times). I had to look it up when I first saw it and I still can't grok it as it's very different to the set=up here - someone writes a series, then it gets made until they cancel it ('cancel' - another US term, what would we have said here before then, 'they took it off'?) or the writer decides not to write anymore.
posted by mippy at 4:01 AM on May 21, 2012


Lófaszt, nehogy már! Te vagy a showrunner!
posted by zamboni at 6:17 AM on May 21, 2012


Soon spellcheck will stop underlining showrunner

Highlight it, right click, "add to dictionary", fiesta times.
posted by elizardbits at 6:18 AM on May 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


zarq: "Artw: "...and Metafilter is offended by that."

Are we? Are they? Only 2-3 people actually seemed vexed by it.
"

Okay. Guilty. There were two things going on in that thread I guess; viz. some people were unfamiliar with the word and the comment I quoted legitimately addressed that, while others like myself just dislike the term intensely. I took offense when none was warranted. I actually do know better than to dash off ten words in anger and hit post. The tone being taken just got my Irish up is all. I'm sorry.

That being said, while petty, I do have an actual reason for disliking "show-runner": It strikes me as insufficiently theatrical in precisely the same way that "war-fighter" is insufficiently martial. I do understand that both are necessary terms of art in their respective fields, in the sense that existing words or titles don't encompass the entirety of what is being described by them. It's not required that I like it.

Hopefully the next time similar circumstances arise, I'll look back on this and have the sense to hit "Close Tab" rather than "Post Comment."

Again, apologies.
posted by ob1quixote at 6:23 AM on May 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


BibiRose writes "there are quite a few titles with 'runner' in the more or less athletic meaning: Blade Runner, Road Runner, The Kite Runner, The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner? "

Let's not forget carpet runner.
posted by Mitheral at 9:17 AM on May 20 [1 favorite +] [!]


Or Homestar Runner
posted by chavenet at 6:51 AM on May 21, 2012


The Showrunners : A Season Inside The Billion-Dollar, Death-Defying, Madcap World Of Television's Real Stars

From 1999. And so very 1999.
posted by smackfu at 6:58 AM on May 21, 2012


The reason for a term like showrunner is that comparable terms such as "artistic director" tend to get people's backs up: "ooh la la, you're making art now, are you?" It is in fact, and I think deliberately, insufficiently theatrical, because if people wanted theatrical they'd go to the theatre.
posted by Errant at 7:16 AM on May 21, 2012


"war-fighter" is insufficiently martial

WTF? It's made up of the words "war" and "fighter." If it was any more martial little explosions would go off every time you wrote it and merely saying the word aloud would be sufficient to bring Michael Bay to orgasm.

You know, just because a word is new doesn't mean it is a euphemism. Both warfighter and showrunner are admirable examples of perfectly plain statement. What do warfighters do? They fight wars. What do showrunners do? They run shows. You really can't get more straightforward than that.
posted by yoink at 7:53 AM on May 21, 2012 [6 favorites]


Well I can tell you that nine times out of ten my negative reaction to an industry-specific neologism has much less to do with the word itself and much more to do with the industry, and how I believe that said industry is full of pretentious morons who make more money than me.

In short: envy.
posted by Doleful Creature at 8:24 AM on May 21, 2012


As someone who works In television, I found both these threads very odd. I can vouch that it is a standard industry term and not that new or, good lord, pretentious. It's just the term that we use.
posted by Bookhouse at 8:29 AM on May 21, 2012 [4 favorites]


My two cents on this subject.
What I found annoying wasn't so much the use of the term as the condescending (dare I say "hipster") attitude about it.
"Oh, you're not familiar with the term 'showrunner'? Aren't you precious."
Good thing I didn't say I wasn't familiar with the show, either.
posted by Curious Artificer at 9:28 AM on May 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


Personal catalog: first noticed "showrunner" in reference to Ron Moore circa the BSG remake; have heard "pitchy" my entire life having grown up musical; will get around to watching Community one of these days; also do not believe that camels exist.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:37 AM on May 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


I first encountered the term "showrunner" when browsing Wikipedia articles about which Simpson seasons did not suck.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:40 AM on May 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


Kyle MacLachlan has to believe in Camels.
posted by clavdivs at 9:48 AM on May 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


Speaking as a someone who's been a showrunner on several crappy American television shows:
- There are no rules about who is called a showrunner, and no real prestige attached. (And by "prestige" I mean "extra money.")
- It's closer to "foreman" (or foreperson) on a roadside construction crew, or general contractor on a bathroom remodel, than anything else. And for godsakes, absolutely nothing like "CEO."
- Not all shows have a showrunner. Only ones expensive or complex enough to require the answer to this question: "Who do I complain to?"
- On the production side, you're the person hired to relieve everyone else above you of responsibility for all the annoying little stuff, e.g., the actual work that needs to be done to get a show on the air.
- On the creative side (if there is one), you have final say on whatever gets passed up to the detached people above you, and you get to fight for (or roll over on) whatever stupid (or wise) changes they pass down.
- To everyone else, it's a term of convenience that indicates who is the single Responsible Adult on both the creative and business sides.
- To your friends and people who do what you do, it indicates the person listed in the credits who actually did the real work. (Once on a show with 5 executive producers, I was listed 5th, behind the star's manager's wife, who we never once saw on set.)
- To your bosses, it indicates the person to freeze out when things go well, and the person to blame when things go badly. (For example: In a meeting to ask network executives for more money, I was sandbagged by my boss, who introduced me to a room full of suits as the captain of the network's own "Ishtar.")
- I, too, am a little nauseated that the term is coming into popular use. But that's just narcissism. I'm sure there were New Jersey mobsters who were upset when, during the Sopranos era, everyone started saying "braggiole" and "goomar."
- None of the above is glamorous. Do not come to Hollywood. Ever.
posted by turducken at 10:45 AM on May 21, 2012 [12 favorites]


So, in the original thread, we have two people who hadn't heard the term before (admittedly, more piped up here in the Meta, but that was after Artw's complaint), and one who had heard of it but adamantly disliked it...but because you've got thirty people responding to those three, it seems like a lot more than three and becomes "METAFILTER doesn't know the term 'showrunner' and METAFILTER hates it!!!"

We could do without the pile-on (well, with the first two it's not exactly a pile-on, but kind of with the repeated, redundant explanations) but we would also do well to avoid what I'm going to call "antagonist bias," counting comments one disagrees with as representative of far more people than the comments one agrees with. (If there's an accepted term for this phenomenon, let me know.)
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 10:54 AM on May 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


EFFORTING.
posted by wondermouse at 11:00 AM on May 21, 2012


The first time I heard a pitchy camel, I was compelled to ask the price. Turns out it was SAIT.
posted by found missing at 11:17 AM on May 21, 2012


"Where I first heard the word 'showrunner'" is this generation's "I remember what I was doing when I first heard that Kennedy got shot / Reagan got shot / the Challenger exploded / the Word Trade Center was attacked."
posted by The Deej at 11:35 AM on May 21, 2012


I had not seen the word cackhanded until I saw it on here toady,

I had not heard the word cackhanded until a few years ago, when a friend noticed that I was a lefty. "I never knew you were cackhanded!" She also called me a toady, but that was later.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 2:34 PM on May 21, 2012


I find the word 'healthful' irritating. It's thankfully not gained traction over here yet, but...what's wrong with HEALTHY? See also: addicting.
posted by mippy at 2:47 PM on May 21, 2012


I find the word 'healthing' irritatful. It's thanky not gained traction over here yet, but... what's wrong with HEALTHING? See also: addicty.
posted by found missing at 2:51 PM on May 21, 2012


Healthing takes waaaay too much effort. You have to eat quinoa and stuff.
posted by mippy at 3:03 PM on May 21, 2012


"Healthy" and "healthful" are related but not synonymous. "Healthy" = "in good health". "Healthful" = "promoting good health".

So, "Part of why I am currently healthy is because I practice healthful habits."

Similarly, "moisten" and "moisturize" don't mean the same thing.

However, if anyone wants to get the torches and pitchforks and go after "incentivize", I'm right beside you!
posted by Lexica at 3:16 PM on May 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


Over here we say "Part of why I am currently healthy is because I practice healthy habits." I don't think it confuses anyone, although you might presume the speaker is somewhat smug.
posted by mippy at 3:24 PM on May 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


"Sort of like how 'inflammable' means the same as 'flammable'? Boy, I learned that one the hard way...." -Woody Boyd
posted by ActingTheGoat at 3:28 PM on May 21, 2012


What Lexica said: "The radishes are healthy" means the plants themselves are in good biological condition. "The radishes are healthful" means that eating them will promote your health.

That said, most people would use "healthy" for the latter here in the US, too, only using "healthful" if "healthy" were ambiguous even in context, which it usually isn't.

For extra smug points, use "salubrious" instead of "healthful."
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 3:44 PM on May 21, 2012


Ah, that makes sense. We don't make that distinction in BritEng. Probably because we're all Obesity Timebombs.
posted by mippy at 3:54 PM on May 21, 2012


Lexica writes "However, if anyone wants to get the torches and pitchforks and go after 'incentivize', I'm right beside you!"

Not that i care one way or the other for the word but what else would you use to describe providing an out of channel for desired behaviour? Bonusing? Kickbacking?
posted by Mitheral at 4:34 PM on May 21, 2012


Hey everyone, "boofrag!"

Hey person, what does "boofrag" mean?

Hey everyone, sorry, it means "when someone in a first-person shooter jumps up out of hiding right in front of you and shoots you before you have time to react."


I didn't see the thread, but if the exchange in the thread was anything other than similar to my example, then you all ought to be ashamed of yourselves for making a mountain out of a molehill.

and yes I typed boofrag without having a definition in mind, and had to reverse-engineer it into a definition that made sense. I kind of like it.
posted by davejay at 5:09 PM on May 21, 2012 [2 favorites]

The term “showrunner” has become so pervasive in Internet television discussion that it’s easy to forget it only entered the public consciousness in the last decade. (I trace its prominence to the 1999 book The Showrunners, by David Wild, which is most famous for following NewsRadio creator Paul Simms around for the show’s fourth season, when it seemed as if NBC might yank it at any moment.) Since there’s been some confusion over the showrunner’s role on the show as this Harmon situation has unfolded, let me define it: A showrunner is an executive producer and head writer of a program. In some cases, series will split showrunner duties between someone who handles day-to-day production details and someone who handles the writers’ room, particularly in cases where a first-time showrunner is in charge. But the showrunner is as important to a series as a director is to a film set. Regardless of who has script credit, the showrunner took a pass at that script. Regardless of who directed that episode, the showrunner is the ultimate arbiter of the series’ visual style. Every aspect of the production will bear the showrunner’s stamp in one way or another, and if he or she isn’t happy with, say, a set design, that will be changed. It’s an immensely powerful role, and in the struggle to develop something of an auteur theory for television, the showrunner has been the most frequently examined figure.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:44 PM on May 21, 2012


Not that i care one way or the other for the word but what else would you use to describe providing an out of channel for desired behaviour? Bonusing? Kickbacking?

Incenting.
posted by empath at 6:50 PM on May 21, 2012


It’s an immensely powerful role, and in the struggle to develop something of an auteur theory for television, the showrunner has been the most frequently examined figure.

It seems to me that Whedon, JJ Abrams, Larry David, Alan Ball, etc, have a clear artistic vision that's fairly consistent between shows. I don't have any problem at all considering them auteurs...
posted by empath at 6:54 PM on May 21, 2012


So much power and responsibility bestowed upon one person. It only makes sense that such individuals have no mortal appellation.
posted by polymodus at 7:44 PM on May 21, 2012


What if it's a latin@ showrunner?
posted by GuyZero at 9:00 PM on May 21, 2012


...following NewsRadio creator Paul Simms around for the show’s fourth season, when it seemed as if NBC might yank it at any moment.

Newsradio is probably my single favorite sitcom but oh god there was no reason for that fifth season to exist.
posted by griphus at 7:23 AM on May 22, 2012


(I trace its prominence to the 1999 book The Showrunners, by David Wild, which is most famous for following NewsRadio creator Paul Simms around for the show’s fourth season, when it seemed as if NBC might yank it at any moment.)

I just finished watching all of NewsRadio (it wasn't shown here) and now I really want to read that. It's not going to come out on Kindle, and if it does I'll have to pretend to be American I bet.

I wonder how that fifth season would have been if it was a different sitcom. Jon Lovitz had a really thankless task there.
posted by mippy at 7:28 AM on May 22, 2012


Huh, it's $0.28 on US Amazon and goes used for $20 here. Damn liking obscure-to-Britons sitcoms.
posted by mippy at 7:29 AM on May 22, 2012


It seems to me that Whedon, JJ Abrams, Larry David, Alan Ball, etc, have a clear artistic vision that's fairly consistent between shows.

Is Matthew Weiner a 'showrunner'? I'm not sure whether that applies to someone creating a show but leaving the writing/production to others.
posted by mippy at 7:30 AM on May 22, 2012


Kalokagathia is derived from the Greek, kalos k(ai)'agathos, beautiful and brave, qualities of the nobility as opposed to the qualities of the okhlos (mob), kakos kai poneros, low and vulgar.

trip and a half > One of my silliest proud moments was when I heard second-hand that my Greek professor (an ancient nun) bragged to her cohorts that I pronounced Ancient Greek like an ancient Greek. I always wondered how she knew.

She probably used W Sidney Allen's Vox Graeca as a guide, or the sources from which the work is drawn—the ancient grammarians, comparative Greek dialect/epigraphic studies, and other works that mention pronunciation.
posted by gentilknight at 10:39 AM on May 23, 2012


I feel like I've seen that word for the first time pretty recently. But at the same time, it was immediately obvious to me that the word meant a person who runs a show
posted by delmoi at 8:39 AM on May 26, 2012


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