There’s a reason scripted TV continues to endure even with the rise of reality TV: you just can’t replace good writing. The following television shows have some of the best writing in the history of the silver screen.
1. The Wire
The Wire is a crime drama set and produced in Baltimore, Maryland. It centers on the war on drugs and urban decay in America. It’s viewed through the eyes of police officers, gang members, politicians, drug addicts, media, and everyday citizens and is widely acknowledged as brilliant. The Wire won a Writers Guild of America Awards in 2008.
2. Arrested Development
Arrested Development tells the story of a widower and his son as he attempts to keep his dysfunctional family together after his father’s arrest. He’s charged with shady accounting practices at the family-owned conglomerate, which freezes his assets, causing each family member to panic.
Arrested Development won an Emmy for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series and a Writers Guild of America Award for Episodic Comedy, for the episode “Pier Pressure, in 2004.
3. Black Sails
One TV watcher said, “Yes, it’s a pirate show, but the best-written show I’ve ever seen. It’s a social commentary on the endless and age-old resistance to ‘The Man,’ a fight between those who don’t fit in and those who want freedom.”
They continued, “It ended perfectly with a story that gets increasingly complex as histories are revealed and plans put into place. All storylines exist for a reason, no plot holes, characters grow organically, and the development is astounding. The dialog is gorgeous, and the point is: who are the monsters? The Man, or those who resist?”
Atlanta is a comedy-drama series centering on a college dropout, music manager, and rapper navigating a strange, curious version of the Atlanta rap scene. The show examines racism, whiteness, and modern African-American culture through Afro-Surrealism. Atlanta has won two Writers Guild of America Awards for New Series and Comedy Series.
Dark is German sci-fi thriller series following characters from the fictional village of Winden, Germany. A child disappears and follows the connections of four estranged families while uncovering a time travel conspiracy.
Scrubs is a medical comedy-drama that follows a young trio of interns who grow into doctors alongside nurses, residents, and surgeons in a teaching hospital in California. The main protagonist narrates his life internally and has comical daydreams.
7. The Handmaid’s Tale
The Handmaid’s Tale is an American dystopian television series post second civil war based on Margaret Atwood’s novel of the same name. It follows the story of a totalitarian society that kidnaps fertile women, takes the existing children from them, and subjects them to be child-bearing handmaidens in forced servitude to the high-class wives in the new society of Gilead.
8. Stranger Things
Stranger Things is a sci-fi horror drama that follows the abnormal supernatural occurrences plaguing the fictional town of Hawkins, Indiana, during the 1980s. The series has an ensemble of kids, teens, and adult characters that appeals to a broader audience.
After a group of Dungeon–and-Dragon-playing preteens’ friend, Will, goes missing, they work together to uncover the truth. Additionally, they find and hide a girl with special powers.
Severance is a sci-fi psychological thriller following a Lumon Industries employee who agrees to have his non-work memories from his work memories in a medical procedure called the Severance Program. Adam Scott is at his best in this role.
Westworld is a dystopian sci-fi, neo-Western series. It follows a fictional, Wild-West-themed amusement park that’s technologically advanced and populated by android hosts.
It’s an exclusive park catering to elite high-paying guests who indulge their fantasies without fear of retaliation from the androids programmed against causing humans harm.
11. Silicon Valley
Silicon Valley is a comedy TV series parodying Silicon Valley culture. It follows a programmer who founded Pied Piper, a startup company, where he chronicles his struggles to maintain his business while facing competition from larger entities.
12. Mr. Robot
Mr. Robot is a drama thriller series following a cybersecurity engineer and hacker suffering from clinical depression and social anxiety disorder. He joins a team of hacktivists aimed at encrypting the financial data of E Corpdestroying to destroy debt records at the largest conglomerate in the world.
13. The Expanse
Based on James S. A. Corey’s series of novels, The Expanse is a sci-fi series set in a future where humanity has colonized the Solar System. It follows a diversified group of protagonists unknowingly placing themselves at the center of a conspiracy threatening the system’s fragile state of the Cold War.
Patriot is a comedy-drama series that tells the story of preventing Iran from going nuclear. It follows an intelligence officer who must surrender all safety nets and assume a risky non-official cover (“NOC”) of a mid-level employee at an industrial piping firm in Milwaukee.
15. Six Feet Under
Six Feet Under uses dark humor and irony to tackle issues with death that people and society don’t handle well. It follows a family that lives in and operates a funeral home in Los Angelos.
Fleabag is a show known to break the fourth wall often, making the viewers feel like they’re a part of the show. Fleabag is funny and heartbreaking all at once.
17. The Good Place
For anyone who has seen The Good Place, there’s a good chance they won’t tell you what happens at the end of season 1. That’s because the plot twist is too good not to witness the first time you watch through.
18. Ted Lasso
Ted Lasso is a happy-go-lucky American college football coach who heads to London to manage a soccer team, struggling in the English Premier League. This three-season show is known to inspire people, all while making them laugh through each episode.
Sherlock takes the classic story of Sherlock Holmes and reimagines him in the modern day. Each episode brings you deeper into Sherlock’s genius mind and how he solves different crimes.
20. Schitt’s Creek
A comedy show where you want to hate the characters, but as they grow and change throughout the series, you can’t help but cheer them on, and cheer on the writing team that brings forth dynamic and awesome characters.