Television is an art form, and with the rise of “television studies,” shows are beginning to get the recognition they deserve.
Scholars devote time and energy to studying television, just as they would literature, and viewers ask for more than something to pass the time. They want to be challenged intellectually when they tune into their weekly shows. For that to happen, the show has to be well-written. Here are a few shows on TV today with truly stellar writing.
The Walking Dead
This is my all-time favorite show (and not because of the zombies or special effects, though they don’t hurt). This show’s characters are deep, and the writing is solid enough to make you rewind if you miss a line. If you wonder for a moment if this show has literary merit, check into Talking Dead after new episodes air.
When I watch this show, the first word that comes to mind is storytelling. The writers on Arrow do it well. They blend scenes from different times in the same episodes and manage to further characters’ developments by their pasts and their presents.
Game of Thrones
Unlike most shows on television, Game of Thrones has no clear protagonist. And it’s a case study on maintaining a large cast without sacrificing character development. Deep characters combined with excellent world-building and unique language make it no surprise that this show is one of the most popular on television.
Humor writing has developed a reputation of being lesser-than (ironic when you consider the extent to which Shakespeare’s comedies are studied). Regardless, there’s no denying Archer does it well. With running jokes, pop culture references, and characters just deep enough to garner emotional investment, the show keeps viewers wanting more.
Modern Family possesses diverse perspectives often missing from television, and it represents them with flare and authenticity, bring humor to real problems with melodrama and grandiose scenes.
Many of these shows are based on books or comic books. But each one of them grows beyond its source material, taking on a life of its own. With deep worlds, genuine characters, and superb writing, these shows are great for writers to watch and learn from.
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