Spec Script List

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.



Still wondering which show to spec?

Try my awesome TV Spec Test



UPDATED:
A brand new 2017 list has been posted.
Click here to access it.

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’ rules for their fellowship, I have indicated with an asterisk (*) series that they will not accept specs for (mainly first-season shows). It could be only one of the shows coupled together.

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 Americans (FX)
Type: Serialized historical thriller
Three full seasons as a spec juggernaut means it’s time to call it quits.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – Not that we don’t love the show. Fourth season is on its way.

American Horror Story (FX) *
Type: Serialized horror
An anthology series that is so difficult to pin down, some may see it closer to a stunt spec.
Longevity: ★★★★ – If the choice is between a fake season premiere or a stand-alone episode from a past mythology, you’re already on the wrong boat.

Bones/Castle (FOX/ABC)
Type: Light police procedural
Almost about to end.
Longevity: ★★★★ – Almost.

Elementary (CBS)
Type: Police procedural
Too many cops, too many cops…
Longevity: ★★★★★ – Sherlock Holmes is immortal.

Game of Thrones (HBO) *
Type: Serialized fantasy drama
The books send their regards.
Longevity: ★★★★ – Well, actually, they don’t anymore.

The Good Wife (CBS)
Type: Legal procedural
Bye, Alicia.
Longevity: ★★★★ – Final season.

Grey’s Anatomy (ABC)
Type: Medical procedural
The OG Shondaland show, still going strong.
Longevity: ★★★★ – Way past its expiration date in spec world.

Grimm/Once Upon A Time/The Vampire Diaries (NBC/ABC/The CW)
Type: Fantasy drama
Props for keeping the fantasy torch alive for all these seasons…
Longevity: ★★★★ – …making them now-stale choices for genre shows.

Hawaii Five-0/NCIS:LA (CBS) *
Type: Police/Action procedural
Pew pew!
Longevity: ★★★★★ – Kaboom.

Homeland (Showtime)
Type: Serialized thriller
After 3 seasons hovering the top of the spec charts, can you figure a fresh spec?
Longevity: ★★★★★ – Yay for cast shuffling.

House of Cards/Orange Is The New Black (Netflix)
Type: Serialized political/relationship drama
Still hot, but they have shone so brightly that their number of specs have cast a long shadow over any new entrants.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – Classic example of shows worth polishing a spec for, but not starting a new one.

Major Crimes (TNT)
Type: Procedural drama
One of the few straight crime procedurals currently in the spec world,
Longevity: ★★★★★ – TNT knows drama, so there’s more than a chance the show will go on for a few seasons.

Masters of Sex (Showtime)
Type: Serialized historical drama
Right past the cusp of being over-specced. Had many entries in its early seasons plus is now against fierce competition with the many other dramas on the board.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – Can still last you a while since it’s an accomplished Showtime series (also known as endlessly renewed).

Nashville (ABC) *
Type: Musical/Family drama
Had a hard time reaching mainstream level to get widely accepted, despite being four seasons in.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – Getting long in the tooth.

Orphan Black (BBC America)
Type: Serialized science-fiction drama
In a time when only a handful of genre shows were speccable, Orphan Black rose near the top.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – Four years later, it’s hard not to see this show as past its spec date.

Person of Interest (CBS) *
Type: Action/Science-fiction drama
Great show…
Longevity: ★★★★ – …with only a few episodes left.

Royal Pains/Suits (USA) *
Type: Light procedural
A tougher crowd for lighter fares coupled with the shows’ age bring Pains and Suits over the hill.
Longevity: ★★★★ – With USA’s change of identity, the doors may soon close.

Scandal (ABC)
Type: Serialized political drama
Shondaland has a new queen in town.
Longevity: ★★★★ – Will Fitz be back with Olivia by the time you finish reading this sentence?

Shameless (Showtime) *
Type: Serialized family dramedy
Still a top option for a lot of people, which means a lot of competition.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – Plus it’s already deep in season six.

The Walking Dead (AMC)
Type: Ensemble/horror drama
Pretty much the first drama to really become a top spec from season one, episode one.
Longevity: ★★★★ – Like other soaps, this one will never end.


Mainstream

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

The 100 (The CW)
Type: Serialized science-fiction drama
A very strong sci-fi contender, both as a show and spec choice.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – The risk factor is clear: every season gets crazier.

The Affair/The Leftovers (Showtime/HBO) *
Type: Serialized relationship drama
Both have regained momentum with their intimate approach to relationships, which also makes them hard shows to spec.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – One is on its final season, while the other keeps changing perspective. Will that be cause for trouble?

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (ABC)
Type: Fantasy procedural
The first of many superhero choices.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – Expanding mythology = difficult to keep the spec rolling past one season.

Arrow/The Flash (The CW)
Type: Action/Fantasy procedural
The former is getting a tad old in the spec world, replaced by the latter’s energy.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – Things can shake in your favor, depending on season enders.

Better Call Saul (AMC)
Type: Crime drama
Difficult to pin down, and not as popular as its original counterpart–which can be a great thing if you nail the tone.
Longevity: ★★★★ – Still not easy to find an evergreen story.

The Blacklist (NBC)
Type: Action procedural
Everyone’s go-to network action spec.
Longevity: ★★★★ – This show ain’t ending any time soon.

Chicago Fire/Chicago PD (NBC)
Type: Action procedural
Dick Wolf is still killing it for NBC.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – Watch out for all the deaths.

Empire (FOX)
Type: Family soap
Huge pick last season. A bit more tempered this year.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – Burning. Through. Story.

Fargo (FX)
Type: Crime drama
Although a popular choice, it still is a risky pick…
Longevity: ★★★★★ – …especially given its anthology status.

How to Get Away with Murder (ABC)
Type: Legal procedural
If you need a Shondaland spec, then this is probably the one you’re looking for.
Longevity: ★★★★ – Good news is you can fit a case of the week.

Jane the Virgin (The CW)
Type: Serialized dramedy
Huge critical achievements have carried this show into becoming a legitimate option for your pick of one-hour dramedy.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – 36 chapters later, it is challenging to find new reveals.

The Knick (Cinemax) *
Type: Serialized historical medical drama
Now that Mad Men is long gone, few hard period dramas remain as popular alternatives to spec. The Knick is one of them with a great pedigree and critical fame to back it.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – Watch out for that ending.

Ray Donovan (Showtime)
Type: Family/crime drama
Catapulted into mainstream over the last couple of seasons with many wins in the spec world. Strong contender if you need a tonally modular show.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – Four seasons would indicate its peak.

Rectify (Sundance) *
Type: Serialized drama
Moved beyond the little cable drama that could into the spotlight. Surprisingly popular among specs.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – Final season is on its way.


Wild Cards

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

Agent Carter (ABC)
Type: Action-adventure drama
The “nicher” of Marvel shows, making it a harder spec to get read. Doesn’t mean it’s not worth the write, especially when considering the serialized alternatives.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – But will it get renewed?

Blindspot/Limitless/Quantico/Scorpion (NBC/ABC/CBS) *
Type: Action/thriller procedural
All have the potential to become great spec choices for people wanting a broad network thriller. Or to put it another way: a Blacklist replacement. Given the NBC connection though, Blindspot is still the front-runner out of the four.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – Not all have the greatest of successes, but they have clinched full seasons (and some renewals), while Scorpion is already in its second season.

Chicago Med/Code Black (NBC/CBS) *
Type: Medical drama
It’s been a while since we last saw a real medical contender for popular specs.
Longevity: ★★★★ – And now we’ve got two.

Daredevil/Jessica Jones (Netflix)
Type: Serialized superhero drama
Undoubtedly popular as both shows and specs. And with the Defenders popping up left and right, you have your replacement specs cut out for you.
Longevity: ★★★★ – Is there a way you can make a Marvel spec last for many seasons (or even just one)? Good news is you already have access to all the episodes.

Fear the Walking Dead (AMC)
Type: Serialized survival horror
Fear may prove to be a spec winner, even if it relies more on serialized family dynamics than being a clear-cut soap with zombies like its sister show.
Longevity: ★★★★ – With only 6 episodes aired, it’s ambitious to extrapolate the story into a long-term spec.

Gotham/Supergirl (FOX/CBS) *
Type: Superhero procedural
One didn’t get the traction it needed to become mainstream, while the other is the new kid on the block.
Longevity: ★★★★ – Let’s see how they fare this season.

Legends of Tomorrow (The CW) *
Type: Superhero action-adventure
It’s still trying to figure itself out, but when it does, it’ll be a strong contender for a DC spec.
Longevity: ★★★★ – Dark horse.

Lucifer/Rosewood (FOX) *
Type: Police procedural
Depending on a second season, they could become good safe picks for their genre.
Longevity: ★★★★ – Renewals look good.

Madam Secretary (CBS) *
Type: Political drama
A decent Good Wife replacement.
Longevity: ★★★★ – It still hasn’t reached a level of notoriety that would guarantee a wide read.

Mr. Robot (USA Network)
Type: Serialized thriller
Huge critical success which has crossed off USA’s “blue-sky” approach. But will it convert to the spec world?
Longevity: ★★★★ – Rule number 1: You don’t talk about Fight Club.

Scream Queens (FOX) *
Type: Procedural drama
Expecting this to go the way of American Horror Story but for network.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – Crazy anthology.

UnReal (Lifetime)
Type: Serialized drama
Already a cable sensation, which might lead to a big wave of triumphant specs.
Longevity: ★★★★ – Who’s your bachelor?


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. Who knows, maybe the showrunner is into less popular shows and will value your risk-taking.

Bates Motel (A&E)
Type: Serialized family drama/horror
Four seasons in, Bates has gained some repuation with specs.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – Probably the last season before spoilage.

Billions (Showtime) *
Type: Serialized drama
Brand new with little traction despite its cast.
Longevity: ★★★★ – Not sure I would go long on a spec–even with a renewal.

Black Mirror (Netflix)
Type: Science-fiction anthology
A surprisingly acceptable choice considering the upcoming return of the show. But why not just make an original sci-fi pilot using your episode concept?
Longevity: ★★★★ – No continuity means long life–as long as the show doesn’t do your idea.

Bosch/Mad Dogs/The Man in the High Castle/Mozart in the Jungle (Amazon) *
Type: Serialized dramas
Combining four dramas does seem like a lot, but they all suffer from the same issue: as spec samples, they do not have the same appeal as broader choices. And given their serialized nature, they defeat the main point of specs (showing off your imitation skills).
Longevity: ★★★★★ – Will go on, but not with the stories you may imagine.

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (The CW)
Type: Romantic musical comedy
Much like Jane the Virgin before it, Ex-Girlfriend has a lot of work to do before it catches on outside its niche audience.
Longevity: ★★★★ – Can become a real musical contender.

Halt & Catch Fire/Turn/Into the Badlands (AMC) *
Type: Serialized historical drama
The first two did not gain the spec success they might have had, while Badlands just entered the race.
Longevity: ★★★★ – All three are rolling in with AMC.

iZombie (The CW)
Type: Horror dramedy
Whodathunk Veronica Mars would return?
Longevity: ★★★★ – Tenuous renewal, but CW is in a good mode these days.

The Last Ship (TNT) *
Type: Action procedural
America!
Longevity: ★★★★★ – Comin’ again to save the motherfuckin’ day, yeah!

The Librarians (TNT) *
Type: Adventure procedural
Where Leverage once stood…
Longevity: ★★★★ – …so does The Librarians.

The Originals/Reign (The CW) *
Type: Serialized fantasy/historical drama
Could be interesting (albeit risky) bets if you’re writing in this genre, especially considering the spec popularity of similar shows..
Longevity: ★★★★★ – CW renewed them (with many other shows). Doesn’t keep their stories from constantly shifting.

Outlander/Power (Starz) *
Type: Serialized historical/personal drama
It may seem odd to put Starz’s biggest shows as Wild Cards, but keep in mind a fervent fan base doesn’t necessarily translate to spec success. Plus they’re fairly nascent with two seasons.
Longevity: ★★★★ – There’s always the option of looking into the Outlander books to figure out if your spec will be damaged. No such luck with Power.


Gamblers

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

12 Monkeys/Colony/Killjoys/The Strain (USA/Syfy/FX) *
Type: Science-fiction/Fantasy drama
Strain and Monkeys did not gain the momentum among genre speccers, especially compared to other network choices. Meanwhile, Colony and Killjoys are brand new shows, which may prove difficult to get a read.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – Watch out, sci-fi can go in so many directions.

The Fosters (Freeform) *
Type: Serialized family/workplace drama
Although ABC Family Freeform has very prominent shows, notably with critical darling The Fosters, none of them have really gained mainstream readership.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – Even if compelling, a Fosters spec is tricky to hold on to.

Outsiders/Salem (WGN) *
Type: Serialized historical/supernatural drama
Still too niche to be considered a widely acceptable spec…
Longevity: ★★★★ – …but could grow like Manhattan did.


2016 Trends

A staggering 87 dramas are listed on this year’s spec list! To give you a better idea of scale, that’s a 25% increase of shows since only last year–when we already had 68 dramas listed. Insane.

With nearly a third of shows being sci-fi or fantasy, this season really saw the explosion of genre back on the spec world–especially with the many CW entries (The 100, The Flash, Arrow, The Originals). Basic cable and streaming shows are going strong, with about half of all series on the board.

The past trend of “quicker is better” seems to have partially slowed down. A healthy mix of second and third-year shows are in the mainstream (The Blacklist, Chicago, Jane the Virgin), with some still climbing the chart (Gotham, Madam Secretary, Scorpion).
Spec maturity seems to peak between the third and fourth season, with most series above that threshold already over-specced.

Aging shows coupled with many serialized entries makes this year very precarious for spec longevity. In other words, it is becoming increasingly harder to keep specs current for more than a season or two. This may not be such a bad thing given the enormity of options available.

Overall, the spec field is definitely crowded–in a good way. More choices here means more finely tuned samples that can match very closely to the writer’s sensibilities. It’s anybody’s pick.


Still wondering which show to spec?

Try my awesome TV Spec Test



UPDATED:
A brand new 2017 list has been posted.
Click here to access it.

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’ rules for their fellowship, I have indicated with an asterisk (*) series that they will not accept specs for (mainly first-season series).

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)
Yup.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – Still here.

The Big Bang Theory/Two Broke Girls (CBS)
Bazinga!
Longevity: ★★★★ – Ad aeternum.

Bob’s Burgers (FOX)
We’re going up to eight seasons, which should already tell you something about its popularity.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – It’s still an animated show, meaning you could pull off a rabbit.

Episodes (Showtime) *
Limited spec appeal for what used to be a gambler.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – Especially with potentially a fifth (and final?) season.

Girls (HBO) *
So outdone that some fellowships don’t even accept the show anymore.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – Over it.

The Goldbergs (ABC)
Replaced by fresher single-cam fares.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – Four seasons and counting.

House of Lies (Showtime)
Listen to your spec consultant.
Longevity: ★★★★★It’s Showtime, it won’t end. Apparently the show may be ending this season (if you needed another reason as to why a new Lies spec might be risky).

It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (FXX)
The Simpsons of basic cable, in that it’ll run forever.
Longevity: ★★★★ – The Gang wouldn’t write a new spec.

Louie (FX)
Beyond the fact that we’re on season six, it’s in an extended hiatus.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – On the bright side, it prolongs your spec one more season.

The Mindy Project (FOX)
If you already got one, good. Otherwise, I wouldn’t start.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – Some serialized changes last season.

Modern Family (ABC)
I guess you could write another college episode about the grand-kids.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – Another generation is upon us.

New Girl (FOX)
Used to reign among the single-cams.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – Over 100 episodes. Enough said.

Veep (HBO)
Insert 2016 presidential election joke.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – A return to form last season, which also brought some changes in one specific area.


Mainstream

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

Black-ish/Fresh Off the Boat (ABC)
On top of their single-cam game.
Longevity: ★★★★ – Go, go, gadget.

Broad City/Workaholics (Comedy Central)
Succeeded in going beyond their niche statuses into becoming a lot of people’s go-to specs.
Longevity: ★★★★★

Brooklyn Nine-Nine (FOX)
Big success in the spec world thanks to two very popular seasons, which means…
Longevity: ★★★★★ – …it’s probably living its last year in this category.

The Last Man on Earth (FOX)
A wild card in terms of storytelling, but definitely a hot pick for your ambitious single-cam.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – Can you predict where they’re headed to?

Mom (CBS)
Still the strongest multi-cam on the board.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – Also, the only viable multi-cam on the board.

Silicon Valley (HBO)
A curated comedy stack for your future open-source, community-driven jokes.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – Made with ❤ in Los Angeles.

Transparent (Amazon)
A critical sensation becomes a go-to dramedy spec.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – Already working on season three.

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Netflix)
Season 2 is still not out yet, but that shouldn’t stop you.
Longevity: ★★★★ – Very likely to be renewed beyond if it can further its critical acclaim.

You’re the Worst (FXX)
Has matured into a serious contender for a lot of people.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – Depression is in the air.


Wild Cards

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

Faking It (MTV)
Dark horse among the half-hours but gaining momentum.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – Already on its third season.

Life in Pieces (CBS) *
Broad family comedy that could become a great Modern Family replacement.
Longevity: ★★★★ – Pending a renewal.

Master of None (Netflix)
Gaining traction as a spec, but its anthology formula can be a put-off.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – Season 2 isn’t for another full year.

Superstore (NBC) *
The lone NBC comedy on the board, barely making it…
Longevity: ★★★★ – …thanks to its precarious renewal.

Grandfathered/The Grinder (FOX) *
A full comedy slate rejuvenation for FOX single-cams…
Longevity: ★★★★ – …assuming they go beyond their first season.


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. Who knows, maybe the showrunner is into less popular shows and will value your risk-taking.

Baskets (FX) *
In the same spot as last year’s Man Seeking Woman, which could also mean a move downwards next season.
Longevity: ★★★★ – FX seems to love its bizarre post-modern comedies.

Bojack Horseman/Rick & Morty (Netflix/Adult Swim) *
Although fairly popular in the mainstream, they still haven’t showed real success among specs.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – Can you outcrazy and outsmart them?

Togetherness (HBO)
Mumblecore will not help the writing.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – Slightly precarious spot in both the real, and spec-world, given its reserved nature.


Gamblers

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

Baby Daddy/Young & Hungry (Freeform) *
Unknown to a lot of readers, which could jeopardize your chances.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – And they’re 4+ seasons deep.

Casual/Difficult People (Hulu) *
Not even on most people’s radars, yet has potential to grow if it gets more recognition.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – Hulu’s betting on its slate.

Man Seeking Woman (FXX) *
A slight downturn from last year’s Outsider category, if only because it hasn’t gained the traction it needed in specs.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – Similar boat to Baskets, albeit a season older.

Playing House (USA Network) *
Beyond niche, but could become another Broad City-type spec assuming it garners more eyeballs.
Longevity: ★★★★★ – Hard to predict where USA is headed with its branding still in flux.


2016 Trends

A lot of older shows and very few climbing newbies means that, this year, we’re not even cracking 40 half-hour series in our list (nearly stagnating from last year’s 38 half-hours).

The big domination this season is coming from dramedies. Half of all “comedies” listed are blurring the line between drama and, well, comedy; most notably with Master of None, Transparent and Togetherness.
This is without a doubt linked to the equally-dominating presence of cable in the half-hour world (over 20 of all shows listed!). ABC rules the network side of single-cams, while NBC is barely on the board with only a single half-hour. How times have changed.

The expansion of niche comedies has brought variety, but also makes this an even tougher year for comedy specs. Apart from a few shows that were able to grow from their initial fanbase (Black-ish, Broad City, Fresh Off the Boat, You’re the Worst), the choices really lie between comedies on the verge of being over-specced, and obscure cable series. Tough call.



Still wondering which show to spec?

Try my awesome TV Spec Test


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.

687 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.


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