Pop Culture

Saluting the Best TV Writing in History

Good television writing should be a given, but let’s face it; a lot of the programs on TV right now are not filled with wonderful dialogue. However, great writing does exist, and over the weekend, the Writers Guild of America unleashed upon the world its list of the 101 best-written series in history. 

A lot of the shows aren’t a surprise; of course, the much heralded Sopranos comes in at number one, with Seinfeld in second place and The Twilight Zone in third. I am a huge Seinfeld and The Twilight Zone fan, so I appreciate those two coming in so high. The great thing about The Twilight Zone is that so many people contributed writing to the show, including creator Rod Serling, Ray Bradbury, and others. I wish there was more of that collaborative spirit in television writing today, bringing together leading authors and members of the television world.

There weren’t too many surprises on the list, as far as I’m concerned. I am surprised that Friends was so high (number 24), especially when other comedies like Golden Girls (number 69) and Roseanne (71) came in a lot lower. I enjoyed Friends like most people, but I remember the show because of the chemistry of the cast, not the writing. A few of the shows I am unfamiliar with, like I, Claudius (number 76, tied with Barney Miller), but that just gives me something to Google later this afternoon.

There were quite a few ties, which I liked only because it gave me a reason to compare Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Monty Python’s Flying Circus, Star Trek: The Next Generation and Upstairs, Downstairs, which all came in at number 79. I think Alfred Hitchcock Presents should have been a lot higher, but that’s probably because I have fond memories of watching reruns of the show when I was much, much too young. And people wonder why I get freaked out so easily!

For the full list, click here. What do you think is the best written show in television history?

By Catherine

Catherine is a Southern California based freelance writer, whose work has appeared in everything from the New York Times to Entertainment Weekly. The highlight of her life (so far) was being featured on MSNBC for a story she wrote on Hello Kitty wines...she knew one day her love of all things HK would come in handy.

7 replies on “Saluting the Best TV Writing in History”

I wish good writing would be lauded more often. I like a lot of Bryan Fuller’s work for example, but usually it dies a quick death (RIP, Pushing Daisies) because it’s “too weird” and you have to invest a little, instead of just shoving it into your eye balls.

Right now I’m very fond of Hannibal.

I got way too excited that Family Ties made the list!

I’m glad Buffy is on there, but I’d put it higher. With episodes like “The Body” and “Once More with Feeling” and… well, all the rest.

And Friday Night Lights, which is my current show and is just so amazing.

I’m actually pretty satisfied with this list.

Obviously I’m biased, but I’m surprised that Buffy didn’t come in higher. And I might have swapped the rankings for Homicide: Life on the Streets and Law and Order. I love both shows, but Homicide was more daring and had more freedom to tell complicated stories. L&O is fun to rewatch, but a lot of the writing is clunky and moralistic.

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