Like every year, it is now time to review which TV shows are good to spec, and which are not.
Dedicated posts will be made respectively for the best comedies (half-hour) and the best dramas (one-hour).
As the title says, this post is all about the dramas.
Canceled or dead shows have been removed since last season’s spec list.

In addition, you’ll also find (when available) a script for the corresponding show for educational purposes (title will be in red).

NOTE:
Given Warner Bros’ and NBC’s show lists for their fellowships, I have indicated with:
– An asterisk (*) any series that will not be accepted by WB.
– A dagger () any series that will not be accepted by NBC.

Let’s do another quick recap of how the list works:
The shows are divided into five categories regarding their appeal to readers and how well they are known/read:
Over-specced (shows that have passed their prime, try to avoid doing them)
Mainstream (shows that have matured enough that they have become on-the-nose speccers–and a lot of people are speccing them)
Wild Cards (soon, everyone will spec those, maybe you can get a head start)
Outsiders (specs that will get you out from the pack)
Gamblers (risky shows that could pay off, or bomb)

There is also a grade regarding the show’s longevity in relation to its speccability.
Meaning, how long can you keep your spec script fresh without having to throw it in the trash?
To do this, we will use the greatest grading system on Earth; stars:
★★★★★ – Excellent
★★★★ – Very Good
★★★★★ – Average
★★★★★ – Fair
★★★★ – Poor

And here we go.

Over-Specced

Re-tool your spec if you have one, but you probably shouldn’t bother beginning a new one for these shows.

The 100 (The CW)
Type: Serialized science-fiction drama
The world is on the brink of nuclear annihilation thanks to some fools. As for The 100, it’s in a better predicament.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – Already renewed for a fifth season so you know you’re good if you can find the perfect evergreen story. Good luck with that.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (ABC)
Type: Fantasy/action procedural
RIP Bill Paxton.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – Game over man.

The Americans (FX)
Type: Serialized historical thriller
One of the greatest dramas on the air means it’s one of the greatest spec choices on the air.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – Also let’s not forget it just got a sixth and final season for next year.

American Horror Story (FX) *
Type: Serialized horror
I’m scared for you.
Longevity: ★★★★ – Can you even?

Arrow (The CW)
Type: Action/fantasy procedural
Why you’d pick it above any of the other CW shows boggles my mind.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – At least you could change it into an episode of Iron Fist.

Bates Motel (A&E)
Type: Serialized family drama/horror
One of your last shots to get a spec in for this one.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – Especially if you want to write for Rihanna.

Better Call Saul (AMC)
Type: Crime drama
So popular as a spec sample that it has to give way to fresh faces.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – Still could go on a while depending on serialization.

The Blacklist (NBC)
Type: Action procedural
Everyone’s go-to action spec has a replacement.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – Look on down.

Bones/Castle/Elementary (FOX/ABC/CBS)
Type: Police procedural
Can you believe David Boreanaz has been Castle longer than he was on Eli Stone?
Longevity: ★★★★ – Finals incoming.

Empire (FOX)
Type: Family soap
Admittedly there aren’t many FOX soaps to choose from, but this one is so popular it can be considered on the verge of release (date).
Longevity: ★★★★★ – Good luck keeping up.

Game of Thrones (HBO) *
Type: Serialized fantasy drama
There’s a reason why it’s not accepted by all.
Longevity: ★★★★ – Not sure if serious or hasn’t read the books.

Grey’s Anatomy/Scandal (ABC)
Type: Prime-time soaps
Still not as crazy as the real world.
Longevity: ★★★★ – As always, the trick is fitting within the show.

Hawaii Five-0/NCIS:LA (CBS) *
Type: Police/Action procedural
Barely accepted as show choices should give you a good indication of why it’s here.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – That and their season run.

Homeland (Showtime)
Type: Serialized thriller
I’m more scared of why you have a new terrorist threat in your mind.
Longevity: ★★★★ – 2019 will be its end.

House of Cards/Orange Is The New Black (Netflix)
Type: Serialized political/relationship drama
Netflix has so much other content it’s a wonder why these two are still so popular.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – Possibly because they got those Peabody Awards to show for it.

Major Crimes (TNT)
Type: Procedural drama
Crazy to think its predecessor was cable’s highest rated drama.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – Yes, the spin-off is still on the air.

Masters of Sex (Showtime)
Type: Serialized historical drama
There are a few other Sho choices (shoices?) out there if you want to bust out your spec muscles.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – Obligatory sexual innuendo.

Nashville (CMT) *
Type: Musical/Family drama
Change of network incidental to its change of placement. Still over the road.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – Check out its aftershow NashChat for some ideas. I’m not making this up.

Once Upon A Time/The Originals/The Vampire Diaries (ABC/The CW)
Type: Fantasy drama
Tough choice for fantasy fans since there are no decent alternatives besides some of CW’s newest.
Longevity: ★★★★ – Still have run for ages.

Orphan Black (BBC America)
Type: Serialized science-fiction drama
The good news is Tatiana Maslany finally got an Emmy nom.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – The bad news is its fifth season is also its final one.

Ray Donovan/Shameless (Showtime)
Type: Family drama
New placements for two of the strongest cable contenders.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – In a way, aren’t we all Ray Donovan and Fiona Gallagher?

Suits (USA)
Type: Light procedural
One of the last blue sky-type USA shows around…
Longevity: ★★★★ – …but for how long?

The Walking Dead (AMC)
Type: Ensemble/horror drama
I’d love to see a mumblecore version of the show.
Longevity: ★★★★ – Can you come up with a new foe?


Mainstream

The current and new widespread shows in town that are getting read.

The Affair/The Leftovers (Showtime/HBO)
Type: Serialized relationship drama
Unique storytelling methods leads to unique specs.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – Obligatory comment that one is on Showtime so it’ll continue for a while, while the one on HBO will end on its terms.

Black Mirror (Netflix) *
Type: Science-fiction anthology
A real cheat since you could make it as much a pilot as a stand-alone episode…
Longevity: ★★★★ – …which means it’s as evergreen as it gets (as long as it’s accepted).

Blindspot (NBC)
Type: Action procedural
If you missed out on Blacklist, you got your replacement.
Longevity: ★★★★ – As many tattoos as episodes.

Bloodline (Netflix)
Type: Serialized family drama
Surprisingly popular choice. I say surprising because we’re talking about a show…
Longevity: ★★★★★ – …going into its final third season, plus has an ongoing serialized narrative.

Chicago Fire/Chicago Med/Chicago PD/Code Black (NBC/CBS)
Type: Action/medical procedural
Straight procedurals are straight proceduring.
Longevity: ★★★★ – As long as they don’t get rid of your characters, I guess anything can work.

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (The CW) *
Type: Romantic musical dramedy
Transparent is a comedy as much as Ex is a drama. Great choice for those in the middle.
Longevity: ★★★★ – *sings a song about speccing*

Daredevil/Jessica Jones (Netflix)
Type: Serialized superhero drama
A slightly edgier/mature bend to the genre equals solid picks for your action/noir style.
Longevity: ★★★★ – Well established characters also makes this an easy sell.

Fargo (FX) *
Type: Crime drama
Anthology means difficult to pin down.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – At least the third season is finally premiering.

Fear the Walking Dead (AMC)
Type: Serialized survival horror
It’s like The Walking Dead with more family drama.
Longevity: ★★★★ – Also less shooting.

The Flash/Legends of Tomorrow/Supergirl (The CW)
Type: Action/Fantasy procedural
Pretty much the most popular picks for mainstream genre samples.
Longevity: ★★★★ – And they have a clear formula to boot.

Gotham (FOX)
Type: Superhero procedural
Not as flashy as the CW DC picks (no pun intended), and perhaps a slightly less “genre” choice if that is your style.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – Also in its third season, potentially going into its fourth if it gets the renewal.

Halt & Catch Fire/Into the Badlands (AMC) *
Type: Serialized drama
Big potential for the latter once reads get started. The former already has built-in traction.
Longevity: ★★★★ – Final season, meet second year.

How to Get Away with Murder/Quantico/Scorpion (ABC/CBS) *
Type: Legal/action/thriller procedural
You’ll be surprised at the verbiage used in the prose.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – Even if renewed, storylines are being burned like hotcake.

iZombie/Jane the Virgin (The CW)
Type: Horror/family dramedy
Popular choices all around. There’s wisdom in crowds.
Longevity: ★★★★ – Plenty of potential beyond their aired seasons.

The Knick (Cinemax) *
Type: Serialized historical medical drama
Constantly surprised at the legs on the show.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – But we’re still waiting on a new season.

Lucifer (FOX)
Type: Police/supernatural procedural
The true successor to the Castle/Bones “quirky guy with cop” duo. Plus it’s funny.
Longevity: ★★★★ – Renewed for a third season of 22 episodes, so much story indeed.

Madam Secretary (CBS)
Type: Political drama
Still not written as widely as The Good Wife specs were, but can still hit the beats.
Longevity: ★★★★ – Although the material may be tough to write without seeming too realistic.

Mr. Robot (USA Network)
Type: Serialized thriller
Very popular “edgy cable drama” choice now that Breaking Bad is long gone.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – Do I need to explain the twists?

Scream Queens (FOX)
Type: Procedural drama
Not quite as popular as other Ryan Murphy shows, but the option is there.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – Still in consideration for renewal, plus crazy pace, means it may not be as safe as being on that show.

UnReal (Lifetime)
Type: Serialized drama
Redefined a network while offering a new tone.
Longevity: ★★★★ – There’s plenty of meat in reality.


Wild Cards

Not quite fully widespread but will get there given the chance.

American Crime/American Crime Story (ABC/FX) *
Type: Serialized crime/legal drama
Two anthologies which may prove tricky to spec, yet still will be chosen as samples like Black Mirror and American Horror Story.
Longevity: ★★★★ – Complete wild cards in terms of longevity considering they have unique schedules, unique approaches, and, well, they’re seasonal anthologies.

Billions (Showtime)
Type: Serialized drama
No Homeland in popularity.
Longevity: ★★★★ – It’s Showtime so it’ll run a while. There, I said it again.

Bosch/The Man in the High Castle/Mozart in the Jungle (Amazon) *
Type: Serialized dramas
Still a tough spot for the Amazon dramas, which still aren’t as widely seen as cable counterparts.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – At least the full season releases allows you to plug in your spec in a specific place.

The Catch (ABC)
Type: Romantic/thriller drama
Not as popular as most of Shondaland’s slate, but still a viable option depending on your style.
Longevity: ★★★★ – Shondashow means story burning.

Lethal Weapon/Rosewood (FOX) *
Type: Police procedural
One is new (which means hard to get read), the other is still relatively untapped.
Longevity: ★★★★ – Slowly dripping stories.

Luke Cage (Netflix) *
Type: Action/superhero drama
On the cusp of joining Daredevil and Jessica Jones, but still recent enough (and not as popular).
Longevity: ★★★★ – Won’t have a second season before the Defenders, which may bring interesting choices in spec stories.

Narcos/Stranger Things (Netflix)
Type: Serialized period drama
Shows in the zeitgeist tend to be very popular, which places both of those Netflix picks high on this list.
Longevity: ★★★★ – Don’t get stuck in the upside-down.

Riverdale (The CW) *
Type: Teen drama
Bank on this one gaining real traction. Well, once the show is being read.
Longevity: ★★★★ – Especially with its fast renewal.

This Is Us (NBC) *
Type: Family drama
The new Parenthood spec.
Longevity: ★★★★ – Don’t forget to include a tear-friendly twist at the end of your episode.

Timeless (NBC) *
Type: Time-travel procedural
One of the few non-CW genre shows that will probably become a go-to choice…
Longevity: ★★★★ – …if it can survive the years.


Outsiders

The shows (mostly cable) you may be tempted to take a risk on, getting you on top of the reading pile. Beyond that, it depends on the willingness of the reader and his/her knowledge of the show.

Animal Kingdom (TNT)
Type: Crime/family drama
A TNT show with traction, if only because of its accessibility.
Longevity: ★★★★ – What’s your power play?

The Crown/The OA (Netflix) *
Type: Serialized drama
One is a period with a new direction for its second season (not focused on Queen Elizabeth), the other one is a pure fever dream…
Longevity: ★★★★★ – …making them both very hard to spec.

Greenleaf/Queen Sugar (OWN)
Type: Family drama
Much like UnReal and Mr. Robot before them, these new premium entrants have redefined a network.
Longevity: ★★★★ – Turnaround so fast they’re already in their second season.

Humans (AMC)
Type: Science-fiction drama
Lesser known option on the AMC front, which could be ripe for an upset.
Longevity: ★★★★ – The second season just aired and it’s a British co-production, so hard to guess in the distance. The original only had two seasons though.

The Night Shift (NBC)
Type: Medical procedural
Another lesser known show compared to its Dick Wolf alternatives.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – About to enter its fourth year. Will it be DOA?

Outlander/Power (Starz) *
Type: Serialized historical/family drama
Starz shows have a tough time breaking out of their niches, despite their potential for great specs.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – Renewed deep in the years.

The Path (Hulu)
Type: Serialized drama
Interesting choice which has put Hulu on the map in the drama world.
Longevity: ★★★★ – Jesse has found his way.

Peaky Blinders (Netflix)
Type: Period crime drama
British imports make strange bedfellows.
Longevity: ★★★★ – At least we have a decent idea of when the show will continue.

Underground (WGN) *
Type: Period drama
WGN continues to bring it with this underrated pick, even if not widely accepted as a sample.
Longevity: ★★★★ – Freshly entering its new season.


Gamblers

For one reason or another, these are much riskier specs to do right now. You have been warned.

12 Monkeys/Colony/Dark Matter/Killjoys/The Expanse (Syfy/USA) *
Type: Science-fiction drama
A large batch of genre shows which would make great spec fodder, it’s unfortunate that they’re not widely accepted.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – Some are ending, some may last a while, but all have ongoing plotlines that may be tough to write for.

The Fall/Happy Valley (Netflix) *
Type: Crime drama
What I meant to say earlier is that British imports make strange specfellows.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – If anything, you never know when they’ll be back.

The Fosters (Freeform) *
Type: Serialized family/workplace drama
The perfect Freeform example of a show running relatively strong, meaning it could serve as a good spec, but sadly its lack of wide acceptance limits the potential.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – Bonus point for its release schedule making it last longer than it would otherwise.

The Last Ship/The Librarians (TNT) *
Type: Action/adventure procedural
TNT genre shows are disappointingly never read enough.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – Ordered to last a couple seasons so at least you have a deadline.

Legion (FX) *
Type: Serialized superhero drama
New and bright, which means a lot of people will want to spec it soon. Unfortunate then that it isn’t on anyone’s approved list yet.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – How can you keep up?

Outsiders (WGN) *
Type: Serialized drama
Perhaps it will join Underground once it gains ground, but right now it’s still not on the same track.
Longevity: ★★★★ – WGN shows can be cut ruthlessly. At least it got a second season.


2017 Trends

A gigantic 101 dramas (!) are listed on this year’s spec list. That’s right, we’ve broken into the triple digits. Comparatively, last year had about 87 dramas, and the season before “only” listed 68 one-hours. The explosion of content is well underway.

Continuing on last year’s promise, a good chunk of shows are genre-based (sci-fi/fantasy), with The CW holding strong (thanks to its DC slate) and some cable outlets also getting into it like Amazon and Netflix (Stranger Things anyone?).
Despite the huge increase in cable and streaming content, networks are still holding their turf with nearly half of shows coming from their end. It should be noted that virtually all of them are in the over-specced/mainstream categories, meaning that within a couple of seasons cable could rule most of the field.

Regarding picks, only a handful of “safely procedural” shows remain fresh — genre ones (like iZombie, Lucifer or The Flash) or straight serialized dramas (Mr. Robot) seem to be preferred.
There’s also a rising popularity of anthology series in specs (notably Black Mirror and American Crime), which is very likely due to their second life as potential pilots (if the sample fails as a spec).

Ultimately, it seems there are more opportunities than ever to find a spec sample that tonally matches perfectly with an original sample. Whether or not they’re worth their longevity is another question.



Still wondering which show to spec?

Try my awesome TV Spec Test


Like every year, it is now time to review which TV shows are good to spec, and which are not.
Dedicated posts will be made respectively for the best comedies (half-hour) and the best dramas (one-hour).
As the title says, this post is all about the comedies.
In addition, you’ll also find (when available) a script for the corresponding show for educational purposes only.
Canceled or dead shows have been removed since last season’s spec list.

NOTE:
Given Warner Bros’ and NBC’s show lists for their fellowship, I have indicated with:
– An asterisk (*) any series that will not be accepted by WB.
– A dagger () any series that will not be accepted by NBC.

Here is a quick recap of how the list works:
The shows are divided into five categories regarding their appeal to readers and how well they are known/read:
Over-specced (shows that have passed their prime, try to avoid doing them)
Mainstream (shows that have matured enough that they have become on-the-nose speccers–and a lot of people are speccing them)
Wild Cards (soon, everyone will spec those, maybe you can get a head start)
Outsiders (specs that will get you out from the pack)
Gamblers (risky shows that could pay off, or bomb)

There is also a grade regarding the show’s longevity in relation to its speccability.
Meaning, how long can you keep your spec script fresh without having to throw it in the trash?
To do this, we will use the greatest grading system on Earth; stars:
★★★★★ – Excellent
★★★★ – Very Good
★★★★★ – Average
★★★★★ – Fair
★★★★ – Poor

Let’s get started.

Over-Specced

Re-tool your spec if you have one, but you probably shouldn’t bother beginning a new one for these shows.

Archer (FX)
It’s like a reset every time.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – Could last a decade, but doesn’t change that it’s been written to death.

The Big Bang Theory/Two Broke Girls (CBS)
I mean…
Longevity: ★★★★ – …seriously?

Bob’s Burgers (FOX)
Tinaaaaaaa!
Longevity: ★★★★★ – On and on and on.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine (FOX)
Substantial amounts of specs submitted for this, which means it finally transitions upwards.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – Could go for a while narratively.

Episodes (Showtime)
Fun show but limited reach comparatively to other Show picks.
Longevity: ★★★★ – Final season incoming.

Faking It (MTV)
Never got to reach mainstream status due to its niche…
Longevity: ★★★★ – …which isn’t surprising that it got cancelled.

Girls (HBO) *
Hot commodity at one point, but dwindling in the eyes of the beholder.
Longevity: ★★★★ – Fare thee well.

The Goldbergs (ABC)
Underrated half-hour, unfortunately still aged into this level.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – I mean we’re talking four seasons and counting here.

House of Lies (Showtime)
It’s about to close down.
Longevity: ★★★★ – Ticking time bomb.

It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (FXX)
Unless you have a very fresh idea, it could be a tricky one.
Longevity: ★★★★ – Longest running live-action sitcom in American TV history should give you an idea of its popularity.

The Last Man on Earth (FOX)
You ain’t gonna be the first spec in this world.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – They change the game so often, your head may be spinning.

The Mindy Project (Hulu)
Change of network, change of spec grade.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – Picked up for a fifth season which was reduced in episodes. Not the best sign.

Modern Family (ABC)
Are the great-grandchildren going to college soon?
Longevity: ★★★★★ – The only things that can stop it are paychecks.

New Girl (FOX)
RIP Prince.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – Purple rain.

Veep (HBO)
Too realistic for our own good.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – Change of executive position.

You’re the Worst (FXX)
What a season finale. I have a single tear stinging in my left eye.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – Things are about to get real.


Mainstream

The current and new widespread shows in town that are getting read.

Atlanta (FX)*
A show that immediately hops into mainstream placement given its airing date and strong traction.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – Things have just begun.

Black-ish/Fresh Off the Boat (ABC)
Popular and…
Longevity: ★★★★★ – …still relatively fresh.

Bojack Horseman/Rick & Morty (Netflix/Adult Swim) *
Both have catapulted into popular specs after spending their initial seasons on the outsider side. Surprisingly still not widely accepted. Probably because both are animated cable comedies.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – *writes another silent episode*

Broad City/Workaholics (Comedy Central)
Work work work.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – On the brink of relegated upwards.

Life in Pieces (CBS) *
Still a broad family comedy that can be a Modern Family-adjacent spec.
Longevity: ★★★★★

Master of None (Netflix)
The anthology formula makes it the Black Mirror of half-hours.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – In other words, almost no serialization to worry about. And the second season is on the cusp of its premiere.

Mom (CBS)
Probably last season at this level of spec.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – About to head in its fifth season, which could mean it’s probably the last one on this spec level.

Silicon Valley (HBO)
Very popular and very strong.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – Much competition, much room for story.

Superstore (NBC)
What can I get ya?
Longevity: ★★★★★ – Just got renewed which means good news.

Transparent (Amazon)
Is it a comedy or a drama? Well, it’s a half-hour so it’s still here.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – Critical darling but ongoing narratives could be problematic for an evergreen spec.

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Netflix)
Strong as hell.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – Already three seasons in and yet still open world.


Wild Cards

Not quite fully widespread but will get there given the chance.

Better Things (FX)
No Louie this year, but you might find its replacement.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – Recent, already renewed, and widely accepted.

Casual/Catastrophe/Difficult People (Hulu)
Moved up from Gamblers thanks to its rising popularity.
Longevity: ★★★★ – Hulu moving in strong.

The Good Place (NBC) *
Great first season with clear concept makes this a shoe-in for popularity.
Longevity: ★★★★ – Massive change of plans at the end of season one also makes it somewhat hard to nail down.

Insecure (HBO) *
Potential to become a popular contender in premium cable comedies like Silicon and Girls still are.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – Second season on the horizon and very few episodes to speak of. Double-edged sword of only having eight episodes under its belt.


Outsiders

The shows (mostly cable) you may be tempted to take a risk on, getting you on top of the reading pile. Beyond that, it depends on the willingness of the reader and his/her knowledge of the show.

Angie Tribeca (TBS)
It’s like Police Squad all over again.
Longevity: ★★★★ – Third season is happening and weird enough that there’s room for fresh stories.

Grace and Frankie (Netflix) *
Not the most “out there” Netflix comedy, yet a strong choice if it fits your sensibilities.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – Especially since the third season is starting.

The Mick (FOX) *
If you like your Philly humor without the decade-long baggage of stories, this might be up your alley.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – Bonus points for the renewal.

The Real O’Neals (ABC) *
Lesser known network comedy…
Longevity: ★★★★ – …which means a lot of untouched stories.

Speechless (ABC) *
Vehicle with potential. If it could get read, it would be moved to the Wild Cards.
Longevity: ★★★★ – Got an additional episode order on top of its full season, so a renewal should be incoming.


Gamblers

For one reason or another, these are much riskier specs to do right now. You have been warned.

Baby Daddy/Young & Hungry (Freeform) *
Long in the tooth…
Longevity: ★★★★★ – …yet still not quite there yet to warrant an over-spec mention.

Baskets (FX) *
Moved down from Outsiders after its lack of traction and acceptance in the fellowships.
Longevity: ★★★★ – FX, land of the weird post-post-post-modern half-hour.

Man Seeking Woman (FXX) *
Same boat as Baskets before it.
Longevity: ★★★★ – Final season probably.

Playing House (USA Network) *
Didn’t get the eyeballs needed to move up.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – Third season still about to premiere, which may be a last shot.

Search Party (TBS) *
Great little show, sadly unaccepted as of now by many places.
Longevity: ★★★★ – It just got renewed though.


2017 Trends

Stagnation is in the air. Few new entrants in the mainstream categories, plus lack of traction for niche cable comedies, equals the same picks getting picked again (Silicon Valley being the ultimate example of that).

There’s still a slight upswing in comedy numbers this year, with 48 half-hours listed (up from last year’s 40 and 2015’s 38). Perhaps there’s hope that in the next few seasons we’ll see a lot more valid choices — besides a few network ones and the big premium outlets.

Speaking of, there’s a definite rise this year in comedies coming from smaller fares, such as TBS (with Angie Tribeca and Search Party). The question is whether or not they will translate in reads outside their fanbase.
Also of note is a near two-to-one advantage in half-hours coming from cable over network. Only 18 shows listed are from networks. NBC is still barely present with only two half-hours on the board. ABC has six and FOX five, though a good chunk are older shows (such as The Last Man on Earth and Modern Family).

Much like last season, we end up with choices for comedies that are between mainstream half-hours so popular they might as well be considered over-specced, and newer cable series that could be too niche. Perhaps by next season things will change.



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Alex and Nick discuss the importance of themes and values in television writing, and how you can use them to your advantage in your own TV scripts.

Why are themes and values important in television writing? What are some examples of both? How do you work them in scripts? How do you avoid preachiness in the writing?

The Paper Team shares their motifs…

SHOWNOTES

Content

1 – What are themes and values? (01:20)
2 – How to write themes and values in TV (14:12)
3 – Avoiding preachiness in your writing (23:10)
Takeaways and Resources (27:28)

Links

Survivor: Blood vs. Water
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
“Far Beyond the Stars” (6×13 – Star Trek: Deep Space Nine)
Sons of Anarchy
Everybody Loves Raymond
Desperate Housewives
“Earshot” (3×18 – Buffy the Vampire Slayer)
Danny Strong
Buffy Studies
“Beer Bad” (4×05 – Buffy the Vampire Slayer)
Scorpius (Farscape)
The Outer Limits (1963 TV series)
The Outer Limits (1995 TV series)
“Chaos is a ladder” speech from Game of Thrones (Video)
“BoJack Horseman Christmas Special: Sabrina’s Christmas Wish”

Resources

“Philosophy of…” Books
“The Philosophy of The Simpsons” – William Irwin, Mark T. Conard, Aeon J. Skoble
Star Trek episodes with social themes

Special thanks to Jason J. Cohn for helping us edit this episode.

If you enjoyed this episode (and others), please consider leaving us an iTunes review at paperteam.co/itunes! :)

You can find Paper Team on Twitter:
Alex@TVCalling
Nick@_njwatson
If you have any questions, comments or feedback, you can e-mail us: [email protected]

Alex and Nick discuss how to make supplemental income and getting side-jobs while working in TV or breaking in.

How do you stay financially secure before and after breaking in the entertainment industry? How should you balance work and writing? What are some freelance jobs worth pursuing as a writer? What are the benefits and drawbacks of being an independent contractor?

The Paper Team files their 1099…

SHOWNOTES

Content

1 – Benefits and drawbacks of finding supplemental income or freelancing (00:22)
2 – Ways of making supplemental income as a writer (12:26)
Takeaways and Resources (38:34)

Links

Managing Finances as an Assistant and Staff Writer (PT16)
Stage 32
Roadmap Writers
Virtual PitchFest
Gig economy
Friedman Agency
AppleOne
Care.com
UpWork
Chuck Tingle (NSFW)
“Easy and Healthy French Recipes” – Claire Rose
Swagbucks
Amazon Mechanical Turk
Patreon

Resources

r/BeerMoney (reddit)

Special thanks to Alex Switzky for helping us edit this episode.

If you enjoyed this episode (and others), please consider leaving us an iTunes review at paperteam.co/itunes! :)

You can find Paper Team on Twitter:
Alex@TVCalling
Nick@_njwatson
If you have any questions, comments or feedback, you can e-mail us: [email protected]

Hi there!

Alex Freedman

I'm Alex Freedman, the writer behind TV Calling.


I started this site in 2008 to chronicle my own journey in television writing.

675 posts and 9 years later, TV Calling has also become a comprehensive resource dedicated to the full TV writing industry — from spec to success.


Everything here is written by yours truly (unless otherwise credited), so feel free to blame me for any missed deadlines.


I hope you'll answer your television calling, and join me in this creative journey.


Write on.


P.S.: New around? You should start here.

What’s Alex Watching?

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