Lately I’ve been watching a lot of TV shows. Normally, I’m very selective about what I watch, but the last three dramas my wife and I sat through captivated me and made me thing about my own writing, and how I can improve. Yes, there’s a difference between novels and film, but a good story is still a good story. I believe artists can learn a lot from both mediums, and take instruction in how to better serve their work. In this post I’ll tell you about the three shows that held my attention.
SUCCESSION — Not necessarily a crime show, Succession is a thriller unlike any other drama on television. Based loosely on the life of Rupert Murdoch, I was riveted by this drama about an elderly corporate titan hesitant to pass the reins to one of his four children. This show depicts the harsh realities of capitalism in the twenty first century. And this family is as tight and ruthless as the family in The Godfather. What intrigued me most about this series is that all the characters are loathsome, and yet I still couldn’t stop watching them, and what would happen next. The dark and twisted plot moves along briskly, tight and stylistic. Their are many crimes committed, even manslaughter. The various locales are stunning, especially the scenes shot in New York City. The dialogue is so good that I took notes at times, reminding myself of the inventiveness of the show’s writers. There were a lot of twists that happened that really surprised me, and I was thoroughly disappointed when the last season ended. But there’ll be more. I highly recommend this show for writers looking to study plot, action and great characterization.
WHITE LOTUS — This show was different because the two seasons were completely unrelated, except for one dark and surprising subplot that connected the two episodes. The first season takes place on a high end resort in Hawaii. Various guests come in and out of the plot, creating high drama and mayhem. The hotel employees are just as wild and out-of-control as the guests, even more so. The second season takes place in Sicily and is as much a psychological thriller as it is a family drama. Besides being a great crime show, White Lotus takes on heady topics such as class, racism, sexual identity and fidelity. Great pacing and again, great character puts this one in the top echelon of my favorite TV shows.
MARE OF EASTTOWN — A fascinating show that is part police procedural, part family drama, and part mystery. Set in a small, working class town in Pennsylvania, Mare of Easttown delves into many complex issues. Mare is a local detective, grandmother to a young boy, and mother to a son who committed suicide. She wants to keep custody of her grandson, who is still living with her addict mother. Mare’s other daughter is a bright young student exploring her sexuality in a small town that seems close minded. The death of a young mother sets off an explosive set of events in this compelling tale. And the ending is a complete shocker I didn’t see coming. This show has great acting and moves at a slower, more deliberate pace. While not as explosive and wild as the previous two shows I mentioned, I did find this one compelling and worth checking out.
Definitely find time to watch these three dramas if you have a chance. As a writer, I found them very entertaining and instructive. I think you will too.