The summer used to be a void of new TV shows. No more. Now summer has a bunch of series — many that star women like Rizzoli & Isles and Covert Affairs.
Another one of those summer shows is Rookie Blue. Women and Hollywood got the chance to do an email interview with Tassie Cameron, the creator and executive producer of Rookie Blue. This is particularly exciting because we love the show and we don’t usually hear from showrunners.
Rookie Blue’s fourth season begins tomorrow, Thursday, at 10pm on ABC.
Women and Hollywood: The cop show is so prevalent on TV yet Rookie Blue seems fresh. How did you give this genre a reboot?
Tassie Cameron: So many cop shows are about superheroes; super detectives, super action-guys, super-experienced specialists who’ve seen it all. I think what’s different about our show is that most of our characters are complete and utter newbies. They’re rookies in every way, both professionally and personally. They’re going to make mistakes, they’re going to screw up, and those mistakes are going to effect their lives at home and on the job. To me, this is a show about impostor syndrome: imagine being the new kid on the block, with a gun on your hip that you barely know how to use. To me, that’s very interesting, relatable territory.
WaH: While the show is an ensemble the main character is a female cop. Did you always want to put a young woman at the center of the story?
TC: Yes, I think we always imagined a young woman at the heart of this series: someone vulnerable, strong, open and flawed. Partly because policing is still primarily a man’s world; we thought it would be more interesting to explore that traditionally masculine world through the eyes of a young woman. And we all wanted this to be a really character-driven show — we wanted to be able to go home with our characters, feel what they’re feeling, experience what they’re going through — and seeing that world through the eyes of a female heroine seemed like a very honest way to explore that.
WaH: You are now entering your fourth season. When do the rookies age out of being rookies?
TC: We’re actually about to enter our 5th season, shooting-wise — should we get renewed, fingers crossed. And five years in is an excellent time to be asking this question! Every consultant we’ve spoken to says that new officers are considered “rookies” for at least the first five years. So we’ll see what happens at the end of this season… That said, we’ve been trying to refresh our rookie premise every year. We brought in a new rookie last year, we’re bringing in another one this year, we’ve been switching up what our primary guys are doing, season by season — we’re trying to stay true to our basic premise: young people with good hearts, doing their best to serve, protect, and not screw up.
WaH: What is the average day in the writers room like?
TC: There’s no average day in the writers’ room, which is what’s so great about this job. Some days, the writer of the episode that’s shooting is on set, trouble-shooting and cringing and eating craft service. Some days we’re all watching cuts and going to prep or production meetings. But I guess the “average” day involves most of us sitting at a huge boardroom table, agonizing about storylines, breaking episodes, and either tearing our hair out or laughing our heads off — while eating chips.
WaH: Statistics show that when shows have women in leadership — like as showrunners — shows are more diverse. How many women and men are there on your writing staff?
TC: I would say our writing room is usually about six women (coordinator and assistant included) to four men — but that’s not a premeditated decision on my part. We hire the best people we can find for our show, period. But I guess it does take a special kind of guy to write for this show — someone who’s not afraid to write with emotion, angst, humor, and heart.
WaH: What’s the biggest misconception of a showrunner?
TC: Biggest misconception of a showrunner? That we do it all. We can’t — or at least I can’t. The title is very grand, but if I didn’t have creative partners to share the workload and the decisions, I would be dead in the water. Without Ilana Frank, David Wellington, Linda Pope, and Russ Cochrane — my fellow producers, all of whom manage different parts of this series — our show would be much worse, and my three-year old daughter wouldn’t know who I am.
WaH: What is the best part and the worst part of your job?
TC: Best part of my job: being an integral part of a series that makes millions of people happy (or angry, or engaged) every week that it’s on the air, and beyond. Worst part of my job: losing touch with my friends and family and exercise routine for nine months of the year.
WaH: What things should we be prepared for this season?
TC: This season, be prepared for a few big changes within the Rookie Blue universe. If you want to stay fresh and relevant, you can’t be afraid to change — and we really took that mantra to heart this year. While we always try to stay honest and true to our characters — that’s the most important creative rule we have — we also have to take some chances along the way. As Chris Diaz says in tomorrow’s episode, “You need a little crack to let the light in.”