AMC’s President of Entertainment Networks Sarah Barnett took the stage to give a debrief of the landscape for AMC Networks, touting the networks’ phenomenal slate of shows that have celebrated inclusivity and representation in front of and behind the camera. She mentioned The Walking Dead showrunner Angela Kang; the breakout success of Phoebe Waller-Bridge Killing Eve starring the award-winning Sandra Oh as well as Jodie Whittaker’s role as a female Time Lord in Doctor Who.
“Playing it safe won’t get us anywhere,” said Barnett. “Bigger is not always better. Better is better.”
While on stage celebrating the slate of shows and what to expect in the future, Barnett points out “how representation has been the story” in the industry.
“I’ve been motivated by the question ‘who gets to tell stories in entertainment?’,” she says. When it comes to representation, she also asks “how to do we rectify our biases?” and then stresses how this is not a passing trend and how there is a paradigm shift within the culture and how AMC’s networks are leading the charge with their future and aforementioned shows. “It has only just begun,” she says.
Barnett says that they are embracing their audiences across their distinct networks and exposing them to new programming by experimenting with different formats and the different ways that shows get made. This is evident to the Sundance TV series State of the Union, which includes ten 10-minute episodes.
“I’m prepared to be really quite scared to do good work,” Barnett explains. “We’re at our best when we subvert ourselves and surprise the world with something wholly original. It’s what’s on the inside that counts, not the allure of a shiny package.”