21st Century Literature discussion

Question of the Week > Which TV Series Have The Best Writing? (4/21/19)

Comments Showing 1-19 of 19 (19 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Marc (new)

Marc (monkeelino) | 2567 comments Mod
While it's not literature, TV does depend crucially on good writing. With more content than any time in history, some have argued the 21st century has been a new "golden age of television." Which TV series do you feel have some of the best writing (sophisticated plots, in depth character development, riveting dialogue, etc.)?

message 2: by Drew (new)

Drew (drewlynn) | 22 comments OMG, The Wire. The last season was pretty weak but up until then it was outstanding. Each season had the same core characters but addressed a different social problem: drugs and poverty, public education, human trafficking, the media. Excellent dialogue and character development. It ruined TV for me because I don't think anything else will reach that level. Well, not really, but it set the bar really high.

message 3: by Rachelnyc (new)

Rachelnyc | 2 comments Definitely agree about The Wire and that reminds me, I have been wanting to read The Corner: A Year in the Life of an Inner-City Neighborhood for ages.

Some of my favorites are/were The Americans, Breaking Bad, Mad Men and Better Call Saul.

message 4: by Robert (new)

Robert | 404 comments I think the unbreakable kimmy schmidt has some snappy clever writing

message 5: by David (new)

David | 242 comments Rachelnyc wrote: "Definitely agree about The Wire and that reminds me, I have been wanting to read The Corner: A Year in the Life of an Inner-City Neighborhood for ages."

It's a very good book. There also was a TV limited series adaptation of the book which was excellent.

message 6: by David (new)

David | 242 comments This is a pretty easy question for me because I have thought for a long time now that Aaron Sorkin is my favourite living writer. To make a long story short, I fell in love with his writing on three separate occasions each time not knowing he was the writer until afterward (A Few Good Men, The American President, and Sports Night). Of all his work on television, his four years writing The West Wing are the best. But he did great work on all of his TV series (The Newsroom, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, and Sports Night being the others).

It's no coincidence that a writer as great as Lin-Manuel Miranda stole a half dozen or more lines from The West Wing when writing Hamilton (including lines like "In the room where it happens", "I'm looking for a mind at work", and "So long as you come home at the end of the day / That would be enough") Talent knows talent.

message 7: by lark (new)

lark benobi (larkbenobi) | 130 comments Drew wrote: "OMG, The Wire. ..."

I've never watched The Wire, but I just happen to have watched this very interesting short of David Simon, creator of The Wire, talking about how Stanley Kubrick's film Paths of Glory influenced him--


message 8: by LindaJ^ (new)

LindaJ^ (lindajs) | 2298 comments David is right about The West Wing. It may be the best and since its first season was in the 20th century, perhaps it will be the best of both centuries. My current favorite is This Is Us, which just ended its third season on NBC.

I cannot comment on any of the premium channel shows, as I have never watched any!

message 9: by Whitney (new)

Whitney | 2065 comments Mod
The wire definitely set the high bar for television writing. Deadwood was pretty great as well, as far as dialogue goes.

message 10: by H Anthony (new)

H Anthony | 13 comments Very much agree on Deadwood and The Wire. Justified is also excellent, a really effective transfer of Elmore Leonard's characters and dialogue to the small screen. Smart and funny.

In a totally different register, the animated series Xavier: Renegade Angel, while kind of willfully abrasive, is also an absurdist, surrealist masterpiece - ten minutes a time of breakneck wordplay and humour ranging from the base sub-toilet level to genuine philosophical musing. Not for everyone, undoubtedly, but in the tradition of something like Pere Ubu.

message 11: by Nadine (new)

Nadine (nadinekc) | 405 comments I'll put in a plug for Russian Doll.

message 12: by Bretnie (new)

Bretnie | 560 comments The first season of True Detective was soooooooo good. The characters and their conversations were so well written!

message 13: by Carol (last edited Apr 23, 2019 08:43AM) (new)

Carol (carolfromnc) | 448 comments Agree on Russian Doll, The Americans, Breaking Bad. Adding: the original Twilight Zone, Call the Midwife, Godless, Six Feet Under, and Law and Order.

message 14: by Heather (new)

Heather (hlynhart) | 2 comments Yep, I'm in agreement on a lot of these: The Wire, Six Feet Under, Breaking Bad, Mad Men would all be in my personal top five. Other more recent shows I've enjoyed the writing of quite a bit...Russian Doll, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, You're the Worst

message 15: by Nadine (last edited Apr 23, 2019 11:29AM) (new)

Nadine (nadinekc) | 405 comments Heather wrote: "Other more recent shows I've enjoyed the writing of quite a bit...Russian Doll, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, You're the Worst..."

I forgot about Crazy Ex-Girlfriend - a title that kept me away for years. It's like a lower budget The Charming Mrs. Mazel with a tiny dash of Broad City.

Broad City isn't necessarily a briliantly written show, but it is a fantastic example of women living outside the male gaze. So funny, so raunchy and so not giving a shit about what anybody thinks, male or female. And the writers and directors are both men and women. I see hope for humanity ;)

message 16: by C I N D L E (new)

C I N D L E (cindle) Classic Favorites with Best Writing:
1. 'I Love Lucy', which by the way had only three writers and they did forty episodes per season. Versus now, where all TV shows have a team of up to 15 writers but only produce 8-20 episodes per season. No show in my opinion, past, present, and future, holds or will hold a candle to 'I Love Lucy'. It is the gold standard for comedy writing, sitcoms, and TV productions.
2. 'Three's Company', with what I think is some of the best double entendres and euphemisms to ever come out of television. For comedy writing that I think was ahead of it's time.
3. 'The Honeymooners', for its irascible but endearing, witty one-liners.

Recent Past Favorites with Best Writing:
1. 'Lost', for writing that was in-depth, and had insightful character studies that stayed with you for long.
2. 'Friends', for relatable character building from six equally hapless dolts who felt real.
3. 'Seinfeld', for intelligent, though neurotic, but nonetheless sharp writing that was accessible.
4. 'Downton Abbey', for writing that was simple yet sophisticated, writing that was highbrow but not pedantic.

Current Favorites with Best Writing:
1. 'The Crown', based on seasons 1 and 2, this I think is currently the best drama on television as of 2018. The writing and all else is top notch.
2. 'House of Cards', for Francis Underwood, a character I equally want to make love to, but soon thereafter stab him for his debauched ways.
3. 'The Kominsky Method' for consistently funny and witty repartee, for writing that showcases engaging and compelling character portrayals.
4. 'The Late Show with Stephen Colbert', because if you're alive with a pulse and are paying attention to current events, Colbert and his writing team bring in the satire hot and spicy, in a savvy and interesting way.

message 17: by Mark (new)

Mark | 266 comments Not mentioned yet: Spiral (Engrenages) with its mastery of varieties of French voice (even in subtitles), and The Bridge (Bron ll Broen) more for Sophia Helin than the silly plots.

Re: Better Call Saul, Rhea Seehorn says: "... technically what we do is we run the lines ad nauseum, because these scripts are not ad libbed, and all the beautiful nuances of language are actually written. So we rehearse them over and over until we get to a place where you show a couple that knows each other that well."

message 18: by Whitney (new)

Whitney | 2065 comments Mod
I forgot one of my favorites, Atlanta. Insightful about humanity and society while maintaining a drool humor and an absurdist edginess.

message 19: by Carol (new)

Carol (carolfromnc) | 448 comments Whitney wrote: "I forgot one of my favorites, Atlanta. Insightful about humanity and society while maintaining a drool humor and an absurdist edginess."


back to top