Learning Opportunities

“I don’t watch television.”

I heard that recently from a writing colleague. While I understand it, and even admire it, I can’t share that view. For me, well-crafted television presents an excellent example of writing skills.

Right now, my can’t miss TV centers on three shows: The Big Bang Theory, Hell on Wheels, and Supernatural. As a writer, I love these shows because I think they’re excellent examples of character development and commitment to story lines.

Character Development

Each series, for me, is a great example of character arc, conflict development, and the proper use of secondary characters.

On the Big Bang Theory, it would have been really easy just to focus on the girl next door trope, or the joke that Sheldon is difficult to get along with. And the show would’ve ended when Leonard got Penny or when Sheldon got too annoying. But we’ve seen all the characters change and grow throughout the seasons, adding great new characters and incredible, sometimes touching, story lines.

Hell on Wheels started as a revenge trope and, while it was great, it wouldn’t have lasted past the manhunt. Giving Cullen Bohannon something to care about – the railroad – has enriched his character arc. He’s gained and lost friends, a second family, and his freedom. He’s gone from an outlaw to the hardest working railroad tycoon in history.

Supernatural has tortured, hounded, and killed its main characters, Sam and Dean Winchester, for eleven seasons. It could have been a show about the monsters, but the creators made it a show about family – both the family you choose and the family you don’t. Each “secondary” character has a huge impact on the Winchesters and adds to the overall conflict.

Commitment to Story Lines

None of these shows have bought into the quick resolution of their main plots.

It took years for Penny to marry Leonard, not to mention Amy and Sheldon, and poor Raj can finally talk to women without being drunk. Howard and Bernadette were the quickest developing relationship on the show, and it still took several seasons. But all of the relationships are believable.

BBT meme

The Swede is still chasing Cullen Bohannon across The Great Plains on his own twisted mission of justice and revenge. The railroad is still a primary character, and used well. And Cullen’s “accidental” family wasn’t treated as an accident at all. Nothing is easily resolved.

The king of commitment, though, has to be Supernatural. The Winchesters have been looking for God since 2010 (at least). Six years later, they’re about to get their answer. And, thanks to excellent writing, I don’t feel like it’s the end of the series. I can’t wait to see what happens next season. (Although I am really, really worried about what’s going to happen to Cas.)

These series, for me, are great examples of good writing. While I don’t consciously model them, my own writing lets me look at them as more than just a way to waste two and a half hours a week.

 

What about you, what are your can’t miss shows?

Have a great weekend!

Mia KayMia

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About Mia Kay

I am the author of Soft Target, published by Carina Press.
This entry was posted in Characters, Happy Days With Mia, Writing. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Learning Opportunities

  1. Any writer who doesn’t watch some television is a fool. The writing talent that is displayed in many series is a lesson to be learned. My favorites, at the moment, and last season are Downton Abbey (I’d do anything for it not to have ended); The Blacklist (extraordinary writing with twists and turns that provide a veritable cornucopia of ideas); Game of Thrones (genius, gives Tolkien a run for his money); Billions (oh, my God, I love these two tarnished, diametrically opposed bad guys); Homeland, Ray Donovan, there are more. The brilliant writing on these shows is an inspiration. Thanks for reminding me why I watch television.
    Tema Merback
    Writing as Belle Ami

  2. Mia Kay says:

    Thanks, Tema! I have those shows on my watch list now. 🙂 I’m also a huge fan of Rizzoli & Isles, MI-5 (which I think is only in reruns now), Orphan Black … the list could go on forever. Great examples on supportive female characters, villains, and plotting. (And don’t even get me started on movies….) Have a great holiday!!

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