Tag Archives: 16 great shows

16 great shows: sweet/vicious (2016)

(Bitter Script Reader challenged their followers to make a list of 16 Great Shows that have influenced them as writers and viewers. This is my list.)

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Words can’t express how important this show is.

But I’ll try anyway.

For years we’ve seen one-off episodes in existing shows try to tackle rape (usually on college campuses). The Newsroom, The Good Wife, and Veronica Mars to name a few. Arguably, Veronica Mars came closest to actually being a show about rape. Veronica spends a significant portion of the series searching for her rapist and later takes on the mantle of finding the campus rapist at Hearst College.

But never (in my memory) has there been a show that is first and foremost about rape culture.

And that’s how I explain Sweet/Vicious to everyone I meet: It’s a one hour dramedy about rape culture.

Usually people can’t reconcile dramedy and rape culture together because half of dramedy is comedy.

But it needed to be half comedy. It wouldn’t have worked otherwise. There needed to be heart at the center of it. It needed to have light moments to let the air out.

I always cite the Defying Gravity scene as the scene that defined the tone of the series. Some spoilers ahead, but honestly it only spoils the secondary plot which is established halfway through the pilot.

Ophelia and Jules have just accidentally killed a guy. He’s in the trunk. Ophelia turns her music on. The first song that comes on is a rap song about a body in the trunk or some such thing that hits too close to home. She quickly skips to the next song, which is Defying Gravity.

Now, Ophelia is a hacker pot head with green hair. Besides the green, there shouldn’t be any reason to think that she’s a Broadway fan, let alone a Wicked fan. But she knows the song. And she starts to mumble along to it.

These two young women barely know each other. Jules straight up derides Ophelia. But in that moment they find themselves bonding over belting out the lyrics to Defying Gravity.

And there you have it. Jules is still a rape survivor that is not handling her trauma in a healthy way and Ophelia is still someone that just accidentally killed a guy to save Jules’ life. These are dark themes.

But they don’t have to be. Not every moment of the show. And that’s what saves the premise. That’s what draws you in.

Beyond that it’s such an important show for everyone to watch. Rape survivors, women in general, men, mothers, fathers, teachers, everyone. Because you see how flawed the system is and how it is not set up to protect women, but rather to protect men and their reputation.

You see how the system is set up to tell men that they can rape women and not suffer any consequences. Particularly if you’re important to the college or business or community.

You see how men can blur the lines, even in their own minds, about what constitutes rape.

You see how men don’t understand the damage they’ve done and continue to do.

You see how even women perpetuate this cycle by questioning a rape survivor’s morals or motivations.

I’m one of the few lucky women that has never been sexually assaulted. But I have been harassed. I’ve felt unsafe. This show is for all of us. It’s a show that transcends entertainment (of which there is plenty to be found here) and moves into a space that is so much more important and relevant than we were ready for.

And because of that it was canceled.

And now we’re getting a new season of The Challenge.

This was another panel I was at in Austin. (Check out the video here.) Like the Complex Women panel, it was all women (and even in the same venue) and it was emotional. It was powerful. The women that made this show are so inspiring, but it’s important to note that they were in over their heads. No one knew if it was going to work. No one knew if rape survivors would embrace the show or reject it.

But the creators did so well at developing this show and they were all the right people for the job because they treated the subject matter with the care and respect it deserved. The internet built a community up around this show and even as I type this I think of Eliza Bennett (Jules) up on that stage crying to the point of blubbering because she was so touched by how much the show meant to rape survivors. She recalled how many of her friends came forward and told her they’d been raped. And she wondered why they hadn’t told her before.

But she also knew why. We all know why. There’s so much shame and stigma surrounding rape survivors in our society. And even if you do come forward, it’s a gamble on whether people will believe you. And your own character comes under fire. It’s a lot to take on, especially for someone who has just gone through a major trauma.

But maybe this show will serve as a catalyst for these kinds of conversations. For chipping away at the reasons women don’t come forward (either privately or publicly).

I hope Sweet/Vicious finds a home somewhere else. It looks like it’s a possibility. MTV was not the right network or studio for the show, so this could be a blessing in disguise. During the Sweet/Vicious panel Jenn Kaytin Robinson (creator/EP) stated that there’s so many more stories she wanted to do. Different kinds of rape survivors, different flaws in the system, different stigmas.

And at the core of the show you have this beautiful female friendship. One that doesn’t subsist on weekly drama and fighting over boys. They’re partners and they help each other. They try to push each other to be better. We need more female friendships like this on television and in life.

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16 great shows: the good wife (2009)

(Bitter Script Reader challenged their followers to make a list of 16 Great Shows that have influenced them as writers and viewers. This is my list.)

15

I didn’t start watching The Good Wife until about 2013. It’s so rare that I would start a show in the middle of it while it’s still airing, but it was part of an assignment in my television writing class and I’m so glad it was. The Good Wife has somehow become a part of my bingeing rotation when I just need something to watch that I know will be good and satisfying.

And it is so satisfying. I don’t typically like procedurals unless there’s some kind of mythology or serialized season long arc, something driving the show. I burn out on shows like Bones and Castle, even with their high degree of relationship driven plot. At a certain point the cases become redundant.

Even with seven seasons this somehow never happened on The Good Wife. The cases always felt fresh and the twists came from out of nowhere.

It helped that the show had a strong cast of guest actors to pull from. From judges (Jeffrey Tambor, Ana Gasteyer, Denis O’Hare) to clients (Dylan Baker, John Benjamin Hickey, Mike Colter) to oppositional lawyers (Michael J. Fox, Rita Wilson, Carrie Preston) to Gary Cole there was always someone great to bring in and spice up an episode.

But just as important, The Good Wife had a solid foundation. It mixed the procedural and personal seamlessly and fairly equally. It didn’t hurt that the show had a strong female protagonist that was to varying degrees admirable, funny, steadfast, righteous, flawed, and just plain interesting.

Between the cases, the relationships, and the dynamic between the two this show has stood out amongst so many others in our current television climate. It’s a show I’m happy to watch over and over again and I still enjoy just as much (if not more) as I did the first time I watched.

This show doesn’t need a gimmick. It’s just good. And even among such juggernauts as Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead, that’s all The Good Wife needed to be. Great television and great writing that both entertains and makes you think.

I certainly hope to be able to blend the two in my future work and I hope more shows will be brave enough to follow suit.

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16 great shows: queer as folk (2000)

(Bitter Script Reader challenged their followers to make a list of 16 Great Shows that have influenced them as writers and viewers. This is my list.)

14

I came to this show late. Like, really late.

If you remember from an earlier post, I touch a bit on how my love of Supernatural brought me to this show. In 2011 I was visiting a friend I’d met through the Supernatural fandom. While it was my Spring Break, it wasn’t hers, so when she was in class I was watching her box set of Queer as Folk.

Before that moment, I had barely any context for this show. I knew Hal Sparks as a talking head on VH1 and he always had Queer as Folk in his chyron. And through being in the online fandom sphere I’d seen pictures of Brian and Justin as avatars or memes, but again had no real context for it.

So when I saw this box set, I decided to give it a go.

If Jack’s story on Dawson’s Creek struck a chord in me, then this was a treasure trove of interesting characters that could pluck at my heartstrings for five seasons. Will & Grace might have been a game changer, but Queer as Folk was a revelation.

I know that conservatives think media is infecting our morality, but I see it as opening our eyes to the lives of other people. It’s infecting us with empathy.

I was at the Queer as Folk reunion at ATX Television Festival a couple of years ago (the same year Gilmore Girls had its reunion). One audience member asked the show creators why they think so many women (particularly straight women) watched their show. Ron’s answer was this:

“Even though we wrote the show thinking our audience was going to be gay, ultimately I was happier that women were watching the show. Because women have children. They either have children, or they’re going to have children. And I thought how very important it is for those children who are and who are yet to be to have mothers who may have seen Queer as Folk and understand what it is to be gay. So that they will be more sensitive and loving to their children and maybe we could have helped that along a bit.”

Never mind that I’m not sure I’m going to have children, but the heart of this statement remains true. The more people, straight or gay, who watch this show and others like it, the more empathetic our society will become.

Gay people aren’t to be feared. Sometimes they’re outside of the norm most straight conservatives are used to, but ultimately they’re not out to hurt anybody and they just want to love and be loved.

Queer as Folk showed us a huge variety of gay people, all of whom had layers and all of whom wanted different things.

With the recent announcement that Showtime is bringing back The L Word, my hope is that Showtime or Netflix or some other platform will bring Queer as Folk back as well.

Because when this reunion happened two years ago there was still work to be done and now that we’ve devolved so terrifyingly with our recent election, we need shows like this more than ever.

We need empathy more than ever and it looks like television is where it’s going to have to start.

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16 great shows: community (2009)

(Bitter Script Reader challenged their followers to make a list of 16 Great Shows that have influenced them as writers and viewers. This is my list.)

13

What a wonderfully strange little show this is.

I was first introduced to Community during the summer between its first and second season. A friend of mine pushed me to check it out and suggested I start with the paintball episode. I did. And then I went back and binged the rest of it. I’ve been an avid fan since.

Community isn’t just hilarious, it’s earnest.

For a show that specializes in the ridiculous, Community had a lot of heart and wasn’t afraid to show it. It was also one of the most diverse casts on television at the time. In a way, it was a demonstration of how people from all kinds of backgrounds could find common ground and become…a community.

That’s what made it important, but what made it entertaining is something entirely different.

Community wasn’t afraid to try anything. Sometimes it didn’t work, most of the time it worked better than anyone could possibly expect. Community did social commentary better than anyone else. Mostly because half the time you didn’t even notice they were doing it.

This show taught me to allow myself to be ridiculous in my writing, if only to eventually be able to ground myself. It taught me that sincerity is nothing to shy away from.

Plus, this group of people is there for me whenever I need a pick me up. It’s one of the most heartwarming shows I’ve ever seen and also one of the funniest. I’m sad more people didn’t watch it, but I’m glad it got six seasons, which is nothing short of a miracle.

Now if only we can get that movie going….

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16 great shows: the vampire diaries (2009)

(Bitter Script Reader challenged their followers to make a list of 16 Great Shows that have influenced them as writers and viewers. This is my list.)

12

I seriously debated putting this show on the list.

Not because I don’t like it. Not because I don’t think it’s great.

But when I think about the other shows on this list, they all taught me something pretty specific. I can point to something particularly special about that show.

But with The Vampire Diaries, it’s different.

I remember watching the pilot the night it aired. I was worn out on Twilight fever and so I tweeted something like “Watching The Vampire Diaries. Let’s see how much it sucks.”

But the thing is, it didn’t suck. Sure, some parts were a little clunky or saccharine. Elena’s diary entries irked me (they got better over time). But by and large it was a solid pilot. I didn’t know then that this show was from the same people that had brought me Dawson’s Creek (a fellow show on this list). I also didn’t know what a significant impact the show would have on me outside the narrative.

When I first decided I wanted to write for television, I was working on my degree in Portland. I knew I wouldn’t be able to move to LA for at least another year, so I started soaking up whatever information I could find. Podcasts, twitter, blogs, you name it, I found it.

At some point I read an interview Julie Plec (co-creator of The Vampire Diaries) gave about what a typical work day looks like for her. Here’s the part that spoke to me:

I realized the first thing that I needed to do was empower people to believe in and to own their own work. Instead of sitting down and saying, ‘I’ve got this’ or ‘I’ll fix it,’ [it’s more] like walking them down the path so that they could do it for themselves. It was an instantaneous shift. It was unbelievable. The writers that we were working with suddenly went from being, like, ‘All right. Here you go. I know you’re going to change everything’ to really taking ownership over their material and delivering some really fantastic material.

With that, when the writer owns their own words, then they’re going to fight harder in prep, and they’re going to defend it better on the set, and they are going to be more adaptive in understanding what they need in post. It’s just a trickle-down effect that starts taking the workload off of me and shifting it onto them.

I wanted to work in that environment. I wanted to be mentored and encouraged to grow and own my work. So I decided to twitter stalk Julie Plec.

It’s not as nefarious as it seems. I was already following her on Twitter. But then I started following her writers and actors and then her production crew. I didn’t go out of my way to interact with anyone, I just made sure they were in my timeline so I could connect with them organically.

Eventually it worked. I won’t go into details, but I befriended quite a few people that had worked with Julie Plec. They all had nothing but great things to say about her, of course. One friend even said, “There’s no two better people to learn from than Kevin Williamson and Julie Plec.”

That changed the course of my career trajectory. I’m not banking on Julie Plec to plot my career or pluck me out of obscurity. But two years into my time in L.A. and I know I’m more entrenched in the industry than most people I know that have been here for much longer.

And through this process I came to love The Vampire Diaries even more. It became a part of my story and I became a part of it in a way too. The show has such a great heart and soul to it. You can tell the cast and crew are like family. That’s the dream in this business. To love the people you work with every day. So it feels less like work and more like living.

The themes of grief and loneliness and being an outsider were all so powerful in this show. There were some really beautiful moments and such a variety of characters that you most certainly would find one to relate to. Mine’s Caroline. I don’t think I’ll ever really understand how much of an effect that character has had on me. Her character arc is so lovely and encouraging and it has helped me through some rough times. Just knowing that someone out there has felt what I’ve felt at times in my life is a huge comfort. Caroline may be fictional, but the people writing her are not.

And there was something so admiral about how the show handled Nina Dobrev’s departure. In all honesty, I felt Season 7 (the first season without Nina) was one of the best of the series. This isn’t to say the show is better without Nina. It wouldn’t be what it is without Nina. But instead of floundering for a new identity, the writers embraced the challenge and took advantage of these secondary characters that had been given complexity over the years, but never the spotlight. Other shows have had to deal with a lead actor leaving and none of them have handled it as well as The Vampire Diaries did. They even found a new way to incorporate diaries into the show as Elena’s friends started writing down everything that she was missing.

Speaking of, I’m going to miss this show. Though I do think it ended at the perfect time and with such a beautiful episode. I’ll still be watching The Originals (love me some Mikaelsons) and I’ll watch literally anything Julie Plec or Kevin Williamson put out there.

But there’s something about that first magical show about two brothers who just couldn’t let go of the past and the girl they both loved.

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16 great shows: terminator: the sarah connor chronicles (2008)

(Bitter Script Reader challenged their followers to make a list of 16 Great Shows that have influenced them as writers and viewers. This is my list.)

11

It is so fucking fortuitous that today is the day I write this.

I’ve been writing one of these every day and in order of when I first discovered the show (for the record, I watched this live from the beginning), so this was not planned in any way, shape, or form.

For the past 30 minutes or so I’ve been eagerly consuming Josh Friedman’s tweets as they come in (you can bet I have him on notifications.) I’ve been doing this because he’s been telling a very important story about his fight to cast Thomas Dekker as John Connor in Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles.

Rewind to about six hours ago when Thomas Dekker (John Connor) came out as “a man who proudly loves other men” and revealed that “this April, [he] married [his] husband.”

I’m proud of Thomas and I’ve been a fan of his for a long time (since Heroes, at least). I thought he played the part of John Connor beautifully and I can’t imagine anyone else in that role.

But that’s not really the point I’m making here. The point is Josh Friedman, a straight, white, Gen X-er took time out of his evening to champion an actor he worked with nearly a decade ago. There are many reasons for this (and I don’t mean to shift credit from Dekker to Friedman), but primarily I’m interested in how this demonstrates how special this series really was.

This is a show that lasted a grand total of 31 episodes, and even those were hard won. What Josh Friedman and his team accomplished in those 31 episodes is breathtaking. Consider the sheer volume of complex characters and intersecting storylines all based on this fairly surface level film series from the 80s and 90s. Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles aimed to be high brow television on a low brow network.

At the time (and arguably even now), Fox was only a step above The CW (side note: I love the CW, but it doesn’t compare to HBO or Netflix). Let’s face it, there was a lot of junk on that network. I give Fox credit for giving unlikely shows a chance (*cough*Firefly*cough*), I just wish it had done more to help those shows succeed.

The point is, Josh Friedman dared to dream big but it ended up not being the right time. And it pains me that he hasn’t had a successful show since (I have high hopes for Snowpiercer, though). He deserves more than this, but because he speaks his mind and stands up for what’s right, he has a harder path in front of him. And I’ll stay loyal through it all.

Another reason Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles is on this list? I can trace my decision to write for television back to this show.

TSCC was the first show I wrote fan fiction for. I realized how much I loved writing and decided to take a short story writing class. Which led to pursuing a degree. Which led to finding a television writing class. Which took me right back to where I started and should have always been.

And what was so special about this show? What about it led me to write my own version of what I thought might happen in a third season?

At the core it was about family. It was a mother and son doing whatever they could to stay together.

It was about a son struggling to come to terms with his preordained identity. This played perfectly parallel to John’s coming of age story.

TSCC asked what is humanity? What is a soul? What makes Sarah more human than Cameron? And if she is more human, what makes her life more valuable than Cameron’s?

One of my favorite moments of the series comes in one of the final episodes. Slight spoilers here, but I’ll try to remain vague in case someone reading eventually decides to watch for the first time.

It’s a moment (in a hotel room, to give fans context) where we realize somewhere along the way John became John Connor. And in a similar fashion to his conception, the catalyst comes from the future. In that moment he has both accepted his fate and become his fate. But he’s doing it on his terms.

He’s making his fate.

Normally in these posts I don’t worry too much about spoilers. The shows are older. You had time to watch. The same is true of this show, but it’s such an under-appreciated show I’m hoping some of you reading this will give it a chance if you haven’t already. Some shows are fine to watch even if you know what happens. This isn’t one of those shows. It builds so beautifully that you need to experience it as purely as possible.

I didn’t even get to Sarah or Cameron, but there are really no words. Sarah’s a badass with a heart of gold and Cameron is possibly one of the most complex characters on television.

Just go watch this show already. And then convince a production company to produce more episodes. Because Josh Friedman certainly knows how to keep people wanting more.

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16 great shows: battlestar galactica (2004)

(Bitter Script Reader challenged their followers to make a list of 16 Great Shows that have influenced them as writers and viewers. This is my list.)

10

Frack.

I cried, everyone. When I was at the ATX Television Festival last month I cried at three panels: Complex Women, Sweet/Vicious, and Battlestar Galactica.

The first two made sense. There were a lot of complex and personal emotions involved in those panels.

But Battlestar Galactica? I love the show, but never did I think it would make me cry to see the cast and creator back together again. I didn’t even last through the third introduction. I remember exactly when I started crying. When the moderator said, “The woman we wish was president….” And before he even said Mary’s name, I was in tears.

This was such a powerful show with such a special group of people. In a lot of ways it’s like Lost, though it didn’t experience such widespread success. It was a show that was on at the right time with the right people and the right content with great themes. It’s inimitable, just like Lost was.

From Starbuck’s gender swap to Six’s ever-changing characterization to the utter and sudden destruction of a whole race of people. From “So say we all” to “All of this has happened before and will happen again.” So much of this show was both forward thinking and timely. It was sci fi at its best–a commentary on our current social and political climate. And it did it with such panache.

So yeah, I cried. I cried at how much the cast obviously still loves each other. I cried when I realized Laura Roslin is my president. I cried when I thought of how much we need this show right now.

Because this has all happened before and it will all happen again.

So say we all.

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16 great shows: arrested development (2003)

(Bitter Script Reader challenged their followers to make a list of 16 Great Shows that have influenced them as writers and viewers. This is my list.)

9

There won’t be many comedies on this list. For some reason, I’ve always been drawn more to dramas. It’s what I get most invested in and what I like to write.

But I love a good comedy. I even love some not-so-good comedies. Some honorable mentions: Parks & Recreation, 30 Rock, Happy Endings, Seinfeld, Friends, and New Girl. All of these shows hold a special place in my heart. But none more so than the delightfully off-beat show Arrested Development.

The circumstances surrounding my discovery of this show are hazy. I do know I watched it live at some point (I remember the Save Our Bluths campaign, particularly the very meta episode in which the characters tried to launch a Save Our Bluths charity), but I have no idea who introduced me to the show and when I started watching.

I do know it was the first truly cerebral sitcom I’d ever watched all the way through. It was the first time a sitcom had done what I loved seeing in dramas. They’d built this complicated world with in-jokes and layers upon layers of character quirks and world mythology. You had to actually pay attention to the show to get the show. And man did I love paying attention to the show.

And somehow the writers and actors made us love this utterly flawed and unlovable characters. Even Michael was hard to love, and he was our protagonist. But through time and just plain exposure, we came to love them like one can only love a family member.

They were all anti-heroes and they ended up saving us from a sitcom slump.

Since then we’ve gotten such shows as 30 RockVeepCommunity, Bojack HorsemanCatastrophe, and Difficult People. All shows with thoroughly flawed characters and highly cerebral content.

Now, I’m not saying no show had ever done anything like Arrested Development before. I’m not even saying any of the previously listed shows were directly inspired by Arrested Development. But I do think it sparked a resurgence of peak sitcom television. Since Arrested Development we’ve had show after show that has been able to rise up to (and sometimes exceed) the standards of such juggernauts as SeinfeldCheers, Frasier, Friends, and Will & Grace.

But back to the show itself. It was nearly indescribable. It took absurdism to the next level while still maintaining a grounded sensibility. At every turn there was a self-referential remark or a pop culture reference that was never stated, merely alluded to (i.e. Scott Baio replacing Henry Winkler in both Happy Days and Arrested Development) or a callback to a joke from two seasons ago.

The time and care that went into every moment of that show, every significant look, every “sneak peek”, every word, was utterly admirable and I have absolutely no idea how they did it. But I will spend the rest of my life aiming to create something even half as brilliant as this show.

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16 great shows: supernatural (2005)

(Bitter Script Reader challenged their followers to make a list of 16 Great Shows that have influenced them as writers and viewers. This is my list.)

8

So we’ve finally arrived at Supernatural (if you haven’t noticed yet, I’m posting these in order of when I discovered them, based on my best guess.)

Supernatural is the show that has had the biggest impact on me and also the longest. I’m an OG fan. I remember seeing the promos for the show and getting excited because A) Jared Padalecki (one Dean Forrester) would be starring in it; and B) I loved scary movies and loved the idea of seeing a new scary movie every week.

My obsession with this show was slow growing. I remember liking the show at first, but it wasn’t until Season 4 that I started looking forward to the show every week. And even then, it wasn’t until Season 5 that the show became a big part of my life.

Supernatural was the first fandom I really got in to. I started reading fan fiction and eventually starting writing it too. I joined Livejournal groups and even started a few myself. I ran competitions and online events. I made friends with other Supernatural fans, even going as far as visiting one of them in person when I was in her area (she, in turn, introduced me to another show on this list, but I’ll get to that later).

Of the two dozen or so fan fics I’ve written in my life (I wasn’t particularly prolific), most of them have been of the Supernatural variety. In addition, I started making fan art and fan videos.

For the most part, I’ve left that behind. I occasionally read some fan fiction, but don’t write anymore. I only talk to people in that fandom by way of twitter, and even then it’s pretty limited and not always Supernatural related.

But I still watch the show. Every week, I look forward to a new episode. I hope and pray that Cas will be in the episode and even when he’s not, it’s always satisfying.

Over the years most people I meet say something like “is that show still on?” or even “is that a new show?” when they’ve never heard of it before. I always say that it’s been better these last couple seasons than it has in a while (there was understandably a rocky growth period following Season 5, when the series was originally supposed to end) and that it’s worth getting back in to or even starting from the beginning if you’re an expert binge watcher.

This show continues to surprise me with its plot twists and the way it can get to the heart of any situation is admirable. It still makes me cry. It still makes me care.

The beauty of Supernatural is the way it is always reinventing itself while still staying true to its core. I’ve also always loved how the show can take a seemingly standalone episode and turn it into some major mythological turning point in the show (i.e. “Changing Channels”).

Above all, the heart of this show is what matters. And it’s taught me a lot about character, pacing, and how to build a world that people care about.

If Supernatural goes another 13 seasons, I’ll be there, watching avidly.

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16 great shows: veronica mars (2004)

(Bitter Script Reader challenged their followers to make a list of 16 Great Shows that have influenced them as writers and viewers. This is my list.)

7

A few weeks ago at the ATX Festival in Austin, Julie Plec (The Vampire DiariesDawson’s Creek) admitted on a panel that she had never seen Veronica Mars.

I honestly couldn’t believe it.

I know Veronica Mars is a cult hit, but it’s a well known cult hit.

(Side note: A co-worker of mine was pressuring me to send him my unfinished pilot so to get him to shut up I sent him the Veronica Mars pilot with a new title page that read “Betty Neptune” and listed me as the author. Months later I learned that he read the whole thing and 100% believed I had written it. So I guess the lesson here is not everyone knows this show or has even heard of it. But my point remains that someone like Julie Plec should have seen this show by now.)

I was a latecomer to Veronica Mars. I definitely watched it live at some point, but I don’t think I started until after the first season had aired. But when I did watch it, it floored me. Here was a smart, witty, tiny teenage girl with a chip on her shoulder and an axe to grind. She said and did things I only wished I had the balls to say or do.

And there was depth to this show. Not just the characters, but the themes and the plot. There were layers and twists and turns and it was all just pitch perfect. Sure, it struggled to find its new identity in Season 3 with the always difficult jump to college, but this was one of those shows that knew what it was from the very first episode. That’s such a rarity in television.

Most shows need a few episodes to find its voice. Rob Thomas knew right away what this show was and what it could be. If he didn’t, then he did a good job pretending.

This was one of the first and best of the peak hybrid shows. Meaning, it was a hybrid between serialized drama and procedural. Every week brought a new mystery, but every few episodes brought us closer to the season long mystery. That, mixed in with relationship drama and character arcs made this show a perfect blend of great television.

Rob Thomas blended hard boiled noir with modern day high school so well. In this way, it’s similar to Buffy. Not the noir aspect necessarily, but the idea that a high school show can be something more than just high school drama. That there can be real stakes. That there is a treasure trove of stories, both allegorical and very real, to mine from such a setting.

Veronica Mars didn’t live for very long, but its legacy is still evident, particularly in its successful Kickstarter movie campaign. With the advent of Netflix and other streaming services more people are discovering the show all the time. It may not be a cultural juggernaut like Lost or even Buffy, but it’s the little show that could and it was a singularly unique show that I will always return to.

(Also, I totally own the jacket in the picture below.)

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