9 TV Shows to Watch If You Love Great Writing
At the end of a long day, all you want to do is relax in front of the TV or computer with a cup of hot chocolate or—let’s be honest—a glass of red wine. You want to veg out and give your brain a break but, as a writer, you just can’t let go of your passion for words.
We feel your pain.
In the age of Netflix, where nearly every TV show is available at the click of a button, the hardest part of the day can be choosing what to watch next. To help you decide, we asked 9 Wix writers to share their favorite TV shows based on what matters most—the writing.
1. Buffy the Vampire Slayer, created by Joss Whedon
Recommended by: Carley Slot, Wix Knowledge Base Editor
Buffy the Vampire Slayer is a cult favorite, largely because of the writing and subtle humor in the dialogue. Joss managed to create an entire lexicon that he uses throughout the “Buffyverse.” (That’s the official term for all the shows he created, including Angel, Firefly and Dollhouse.)
Some of this terminology has made its way into everyday pop culture, even 15 years after the show has ended. For “those in the know,” this is called “Buffyspeak,” and we use it to identify fellow fans anywhere in the world.
Buffyspeak is a casual, almost innocent way of speaking that strongly contradicts the intensity of what the characters are experiencing on screen. What’s an example? A vortex is called “that swirly energy thing.”
“Love makes you do the wacky.” - Willow Rosenberg (Alyson Hannigan)
2.The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, created by Amy Sherman Palladino
Recommended by: Rebecca Pakin, Italian Writer
You can recognize an Amy Sherman Palladino show (Gilmore Girls, Bunheads) as soon as the first line is spoken. The language is invariably smart and witty. There is a certain melodic quality to the text that draws you in and makes you feel like you’re right there.
In The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, this is demonstrated to an extreme. Almost every line makes you laugh, while at the same time seeming effortless and natural. The main character, Mrs. Maisel, is a Jewish American housewife living on the Upper West Side of New York City in the 1950s. We follow her journey as she unexpectedly becomes a stand-up comedian. In addition to the hilarity of the writing, the show also takes us back to the mid 20th century in upper class New York. The show’s creators spent time researching the costumes, the style and the distinct way that people spoke in that time, within that community.
“I’m officially losing my mind, which is perfect. Now I will be alone and crazy, the famous mad divorcée of the Upper West Side.” - Miriam Maisel (Rachel Brosnahan)
3. Friends, created by David Krane
Recommended by: Ganaelle Elbaz, French Writer
Ask any person born before 1990 and they’ll be able to tell you their favorite Friends quote. Writing was at the heart of this epic sitcom’s success. The writers made us feel like the characters were our best friends and by the time the show ended its run, we all felt part of their group. The Friends crew banters about every day matters, in the same words that we would use.The show is timeless, with conversation that’s relevant both then and now.
Even today, when you watch reruns, you can imagine yourself hanging out with Monica and Chandler at The Central Perk. The dialog is natural and relatable. The best and worst traits of each character are put forward, without embellishing or degrading. They are who they are, just like you and me. And their friends love them for it.
“But they don't know that we know they know we know!” - Phoebe Buffay (Lisa Kudrow)
4. The News Room, created by Aaron Sorkin
Recommended by: Nora Ginio, Head of Content
The writing is spectacular, but what really makes The News Room special is the rhythm of the show. There are a lot of words, but they’re put together in a way and at a pace that transforms a very complicated subject into something that’s easily understood. It’s one of the best pieces of writing, ever: smart, crisp, straightforward.
I don’t have one favorite quote from the series, but rather a favorite speech, from the opening scene. (You can easily watch it on YouTube.)
In creating this scene, screenwriters put into words what many Americans have in their hearts. This scene made an impact because the writing strongly resonates with viewers. It’s this connection, between a writer and a viewer, that defines great writing.
5. Modern Family, created by Christopher Lloyd and Steven Levitan
Recommended by: Rina Abadi, UX Team Lead
This show is both witty and humorous. It takes things that happen in everyday life and turns them into hilarious situations. The humor usually stems from a series of misunderstandings and is often sprinkled with puns or double meanings.
The writers also use a creative “mockumentary” style, in which the characters speak directly to the camera. This adds an additional layer to the show and draws you in.
"I got to be the top realtor of the year by thinking inside the box. That's right, I said inside. Because while everyone is chasing each other outside, what is the box? Empty." - Phil Dunphy (Ty Burrell)
6. 30 Rock, created by Tina Fey
Recommended by: Laura Moreno, ADI Writer
The writing in 30 Rock is fast-paced, brilliant and hilarious. I don't watch much TV but I'm really inspired by smart humor and great writing, and Tina Fey really nailed it with this show. I have often thought that script writing must be incredibly challenging, but I do hope to try it one day and hear my words uttered on screen.
"I'm not a creative type like you, with your work sneakers and left-handedness." - Jack Donaghy (Alex Baldwin)
7. House of Cards, created by Beau Willimon
Recommended by: Andrew Hughes, UX Writer
Similar to Modern Family, this show also includes a main character who speaks directly to the viewers, giving them insight into his thoughts. While in Modern Family this style adds to the humor, with House of Cards it has a more sinister effect.
In addition, every word in the dialogue has power and seems to have been put there on purpose. Words are chosen not simply for the sake of the dialogue, but because they have a consequence in the story.
The viewer is drawn in because they know that every word matters.
“Power is a lot like real estate. It’s all about location, location, location. The closer you are to the source, the higher your property value.” - Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey)
8.The Crown, created by Peter Morgan
Recommended by: Rebecca Flanders, Internal Branding Writer
The Crown is an example of exquisite storytelling that gives us a sneak peak inside the lives of queens and kings. It reminds us that royalty are real people, too, who aren't that different from us.
Each episode of this show is thoughtfully planned from beginning to end, with the plot spanning both the intimate lives of the characters and the historical backdrop of the time. Historical fiction can sometimes be tricky, but they really nail it!
“One always has to accept one’s own part, I believe, in any mess.” - Queen Elizabeth II (Claire Foy)
9. The West Wing, created by Aaron Sorkin
Recommended by: Mark Novikov, Russian Writer
In terms of the dialogue, the concentration of the jokes and the originality of ideas, this show is the best. It’s full of allusions to different books, authors and movies and you need to be very focused to catch them all.
In one episode, they say, “Never argue with a drunk or a fool.” This is actually a quote from Khalil Gibran. The West Wing also frequently references Bible stories and makes them relevant to modern viewers.
“What’s next?” - President Bartlet (Martin Sheen)
Behind every great TV show is a team of talented writers. It’s their job to create a script that draws in viewers, seems plausible and keeps us tuning in. So as writers ourselves, let’s give credit where credit is due! Sure, one of life’s great pleasures is to sit back and binge on Netflix with our brains turned off. But taking time to notice the writing can actually help us appreciate our favorite shows on a whole new level and maybe, just maybe, make us better writers ourselves.
Didn’t see your favorite show on the list?
Send us a pitch and we might add it to the list! In the comments below, tell us why you love the writing in your favorite show.
By Ganaelle Elbaz French ADI Writer
By Rebecca Pakin Localization Team Lead
By Carley Slot Knowledge Base Editor