Writing: BOOK

Their Own Best Creations by Annie Berke

Forthcoming from the University of California Press (January 2022):

“A rich account that combines media-industry history and cultural studies, Their Own Best Creations looks at women writers’ contributions to some of the most popular genres of postwar TV: comedy-variety, family sitcom, daytime soap, and suspense anthology. During the 1950s, when the commercial medium of television was still being defined, women writers navigated pressures at work, constructed public personas that reconciled traditional and progressive femininity, and asserted that a woman’s point of view was essential to television as an art form. The shows they authored allegorize these professional and personal pressures and articulate a nascent second-wave feminist consciousness. Annie Berke brings to light the long-forgotten and under-studied stories of these women writers and crucially places them in the historical and contemporary record.”

///

Advance Reviews

“An inventive exploration of women writers in the early years of American television, Their Own Best Creations is an exciting illumination of the intertwined histories of gender, the TV business, and creative labor. Annie Berke brings to life the struggles and triumphs of these writers and their ground-breaking work.”—Elana Levine, author of Her Stories: Daytime Soap Opera and US Television History

“What Annie Berke does in this book is as impressive as it is entertaining and informative. In spinning her historical overview of women TV writers and story editors, she pulls from memoirs, interviews, and countless examples of specific television shows. Expected series and creators are all here, but so are many delightful surprises.”—David Bianculli, author of The Platinum Age of Television: From I Love Lucy to The Walking Dead, How TV Became Terrific

“With engaging detail, Berke shows how women writing in early American television challenged audiences—and their coworkers—to examine the changing roles of femininity, domesticity, and gender identity. Tying behind-the-scenes work experiences together with press interviews, memoir, scripts, series, and media studies research, Berke helps us better understand the long history of how the personal is professional for those often left out of the history of TV.”—Miranda Banks, author of The Writers: A History of American Screenwriters and Their Guild

“A revelation!  From soap operas to sitcoms and suspense dramas, from story editors to staff writers and showrunners, Berke’s lively study reveals the absolute centrality of women’s creative labor to television’s growth as an art form and an industry in the 1950s. Their Own Best Creations is required reading for anyone interested in the impact of female media professionals on post-war US culture, or histories of women’s labor more generally.”—Jennifer M. Bean, coeditor of A Feminist Reader in Early Cinema