Meg DeLoatch is taking the wheel network television’s top comedies. As the newly named executive producer for CBS’ The Neighborhood, the showrunner is now the first-ever Black woman to serve as showrunner on a comedy in the network’s 94-year history.
Though the multi-cam sitcom starring Cedric the Entertainer, Tichina Arnold, and Max Greenfield is steadily gaining steam with viewers, it already has a loyal fanbase eager to tune in for family-friendly yet socially relevant laughs each week. While DeLoatch hopes to expand the show’s storytelling, she has no plans of trying to “fix” what’s already working.
“The show has a great audience and great numbers, so the show’s clearly not broken,” DeLoatch says of the CBS comedy. “My hope is that we’re going to be able to spend a little more time with these characters, get to know them more. Get to know some of the characters we haven’t had a chance to explore as much, including Calvin’s two sons, Marty and Malcolm.”
“So I just feel like it’s more of this. How about mo’ betta, how about that?” She laughed.
DeLoatch was passed the reigns from show creator Jim Reynolds upon his exit early last summer. Having already created and executive-produced successes like Family Reunion, Fuller House, Raven’s Home, and Eve, the showrunner is clearly more than capable. She feels that the trick to taking over an already thriving program like this one is all about learning the “company culture,” so to speak.
“It’s never easy being the new one, right?” she says about hopping in the show’s driver’s seat. “But, I’ve been blessed in that I was able to hire my writing staff. And I feel like I’m being supported by a really dynamic group of people helping me to tell these stories.”
“Sometimes you have to learn. I’ve watched every episode of the show and you have to sort of immerse yourself in the culture of the show.”
With any luck, DeLoatch will be able to help carry The Neighborhood into greater recognition among fans and among television awards committees. No stranger to the awards circuit herself, the EP has had to go to bat for the decidedly Black shows she runs to make sure that they’re recognized just as much as their less-ethnically diverse counterparts.
DeLoatch notoriously called out the Emmys earlier this year for excluding her show Family Reunion from the children’s program category despite its meeting all the requirements – a decision which was corrected after her very public decries of the situation.
“I think that it’s important that when people are unfair – particularly when they represent themselves as being conscious and woke and supporting of diversity – I think it’s very important that you speak that truth to power and go, ‘uh-uh, not exactly. What about this?’ And ask those questions,” she said. “And then point out when they don’t want to answer them or want to ignore you.”
Despite the occasional need to advocate on her own behalf and continued questionable practices – the Emmys managed to have very few winners of color despite a record number of nominations this year – DeLoatch does recognize that conditions are steadily improving for people of color in Hollywood.
“I do feel like things are better and, and I hope that they continue to get better,” she says of the industry. “I’m not saying that things are perfect, but that hopefully, people will continue to expand and allow room for representation of all kinds. Even beyond Black women.”
“I look back on my career and I go, ‘I’ve come a long way.’ My first staff job, I was the only woman on the writing staff and one of two Black writers on what was considered a Black show,” she observed. Now that she’s gone from being the only Black woman in the room to being the person who runs the room, DeLoatch can make sure that there are more opportunities in the writers room and behind the lens for those coming up behind her.
“Now, I get to hire writers and make sure that I hire as many diverse people that it takes to tell diverse stories.”