Allegations of Toxic Behavior Surround ‘The Umbrella Academy’ Showrunner

Allegations of Toxic Behavior Surround ‘The Umbrella Academy’ Showrunner. Steve Blackman, co-creator and showrunner of Netflix’s popular series The Umbrella Academy, is facing serious allegations of toxic behavior. Twelve former staffers, including writers and support team members, have come forward with claims of bullying, manipulation, and retaliation. The controversy sheds light on workplace dynamics within the entertainment industry and raises questions about accountability and respect for creative professionals.

Background and Success of ‘The Umbrella Academy’

Before its premiere in February 2019, The Umbrella Academy was poised to become a hit for Netflix. With 45 million households tuning in during its first season, it quickly became one of the streaming giant’s most-watched shows. As anticipation grew for Season Two, showrunner Steve Blackman began interviewing new writers, including a female writing team. However, their experience would soon take a troubling turn.

The Allegations: The female writing team, who split one salary as a package deal, accepted positions in the writers’ room on a standard 20-week contract. When one of the writers, who was pregnant and in her third trimester, informed Blackman of her upcoming maternity leave, he allegedly expressed frustration. After the team returned from leave, their contracts were not extended, unlike others in the writers’ room. Blackman cited budget issues and a desire for more experienced writers, but a human resources complaint filed in January 2023 suggests a different motive. According to the complaint, Blackman had complained to others that he felt “ripped off” because he didn’t know about the pregnancy when hiring the team.

Retaliation and Toxic Environment

The allegations against Blackman extend beyond this specific incident. Former staffers describe an environment of fear, distrust, and retaliation. Some claim that Blackman would retaliate against those who expressed disloyalty or questioned his decisions. One writer reported that their contributions were scrapped after they raised concerns about Blackman’s treatment of female writers.

Investigation and Response: Universal Content Productions (UCP), the NBC-owned production company behind The Umbrella Academy, conducted an investigation in Spring 2023. While the investigation cleared Blackman, many of the 12 staffers who came forward felt unheard. Netflix has yet to publicly address the allegations, but UCP emphasized its commitment to addressing concerns promptly.


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