4. Ilene Chaiken — Creator, The L Word
In 1999, television writer Ilene Chaiken wrote a magazine article about same-sex couples with children; that article sparked an idea for a television series based on her experiences as a lesbian mother in Los Angeles. At the time, she didn’t receive a positive response to her pitch, but in 2001 the timing was right, and when she pitched the idea a second time, Showtime greenlit what has since become a historic series: The L Word, the first dramatic series focusing on the lives of a cast of lesbian characters.
Chaiken got her start in television by working as an executive for Aaron Spelling Productions and Quincy Jones Entertainment, honing her craft in the era of shows such as The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and Beverly Hills 90210. She went on to write the Pamela Anderson action flick Barb Wire (1996) and two features for Showtime, Damaged Care (2002) and Dirty Pictures (2000), which won a Golden Globe for Best Television Movie.
But it is The L Word that has brought Chaiken more acclaim â€” and criticism â€” than any of her previous projects. Despite the criticism that she and The L Word have faced, she told Screentalk.com: "I never write with an audience in mind. I write hoping an audience will come to the show, but I don’t write to please a particular audience or to try and capture a particular audience. I write to tell my stories as best I can."