TV directors do manage to get their share of credit, but the fact is that unlike movie directors, they’re not as responsible for the content that they put out. The level of involvement that a TV director has is one of the biggest reasons why they don’t receive as much credit as a movie director since when it comes to a TV series, some might utilize multiple directors and keep the same writing crew, meaning that the writers have far more responsibility, as does the showrunner when considering that they’re the ones that will decide the direction, the casting, and various other aspects of a show, while a TV director might be more of a gun for hire so to speak, a freelancer that’s brought on for an episode or two before they move on. Plenty of shows have done this to play with the format of the program and give a bit of a different feel when trying to mesh one style with another. But this is a big reason why TV directors aren’t as well-known and don’t get as much credit as movie directors. Granted, this isn’t a constant that can be applied to every case since TV directors that have made a name for themselves and been popular for quite a while are bound to be known by fans and by those that admire their work. But on average, a TV director won’t get a lot of attention unless they’re a constant on the show and/or have been around long enough to be lauded whenever they take on a project.
A TV show director usually needs to be a well-known individual to garner the same reputation as a movie director, though it does happen. With TV, the writers tend to be more important since quite often they stick around longer and are a lot more involved in what’s going on from episode to episode, as are the showrunners. A director of a TV show is essentially someone that can be easily replaced as one episode might be slightly different than the rest but usually won’t be so drastically different that it will throw off the entire season. This is because the showrunners and the writers have a good deal of control over what’s going to happen and the director becomes more of a figurehead, someone that takes over when needed and when allowed so as to make the project come to life. Their role is still important since a director has a great deal of responsibility even if they don’t have much say over casting, direction, or how the show is supposed to eventually shape up, but TV directors are there to make certain that the show goes as it needs to and adheres to the design that’s already been laid down.
Don’t get it twisted, TV directors do work and there is a good deal of pressure put on them, and they do get credited for what they do, but unlike a movie, they’re not bound to receive as much attention simply because they could be gone by the next episode as some shows have been known to use one director after another in order to find out who the best fit is for the show. Then there are programs that will use multiple directors by design in order to tell a story in segments and use a different direction for each portion of the story while adhering to the overall plot. Some directors will stick around for a while, but it’s typical to see one after another parading into the show to gain a different perspective and possibly take the show in a different direction that’s more suited to the director’s style. Again, most shows won’t change that drastically, but it is possible to notice the difference in styles if one watches closely, as, despite the fact that the overall foundation of the show doesn’t change, there might be differences to the show that the director will push for that will be noticeable to those that have been watching the show for a while. To some shows this is important to keep the structure stable but open to change as it moves along, creating a dynamic that will keep the audience interested and therefore keep the show on the air.
Another possible reason that TV directors don’t get as much credit is that it’s a TV show, something that will endure and last for a while, and granting the same type of credit that one might see from a movie would be to take the focus away from the overall story at one point, which would be counterproductive. Movie directors get far more credit because they tend to do more, while TV directors are given a script and asked to make it work. There is a pretty big difference.