Monday, May 5, 2014

In Which I Talk TV Shows

I watch a lot of TV.

Not as much as I used to, but I put in maybe a few hours everyday. Part of that is because we work out for an hour in the morning, and we watch TV shows from Netflix then and then usually an hour of two of TV during and after dinner, depending on the day of the week.

Sometimes I'll also watch an hour of something during lunch, but that depends on what I'm reading at the time (true story: you can read a lot of books if you read during lunch instead of watching TV)

I always love when I catch a TV show that I think is a good representation of YA literature. You know, the type of book where you think, this could be a YA novel, if it were less serialized.

So today I'm listing 3 shows that, if you're a YA writer, you should watch.

2 od the shows are competed, and available in their entirety and one is still on the air.

In no particular order:

Veronica Mars

Veronica Mars is a teen private detective, which, when you say it like that, you may be like "I don't know..." but trust me, it's a premise that totally works.
There are 3 seasons total (and an awesome movie due to the successful Kickstarter drive, of which I was a backer)
Each season focuses on a core mystery. The first season, Veronica is determined to find who murdered her best friend.

Why this is a show you should watch: Clever dialogue aside (and it is so clever and so funny and awesome) the things that make this worth watching if you're a YA writer are the relationships. Veronica's relationship with her Dad is perfect and one of the highlights of the entire series. And Veronica's relationship with bad boy Logan, and the kids who hire her to solve mysteries are the true driving force of the narrative.
I don't know anyone who has watched VM and didn't like it. I think it has a sort of universal appeal.

Friday Night Lights

Most people are familiar with the movie featuring Billy Bob Thornton, and while some of the actors are the same as well as some of the filming techniques, the show is very different.
Following a small town's football team and the new coach hired to get them to state, FNL features a large cast of characters, each one fully developed regardless of whether they play football or not.
There are 5 seasons and all of them are available on Netflix right now, and even if you're not a fan of football (*shifts eyes*) you probably will be by season two.

Why you should watch: Much like Veronica Mars, FNL takes its strengths from its characters. Even when they're doing dumb things (and Julie, I'm looking at you in season 5) they all make sense in regards to their characters.
This is also a show where  many of the characters don't have parents, or the ones they have aren't great, so watching how those characters handle their lives is something every YA writer should watch, since "not having parents" is a frequent occurrence in YA lit.
But I HAVE parents in my novel, you might say. Then there's plenty of that in FNL for you too. Eric and Tammi Taylor are the central characters in the show and they have a teen child and often play parental figures to other kids.

Teen Wolf

I know I know, a lot of you are rolling your eyes. Or if you're not, you're picturing the 80s movie with Michael J Fox.
There's pretty much no relation to that movie and the show, other than a few character names, and the inclusion of a sport (lacrosse instead of basketball, and even that takes a huge back seat starting in season 3)
This one is currently still on the air and season 4 airs this summer. The story of a teen who is bitten by a werewolf and then has to deal with the repercussions, including homicidal tendencies, werewolf hunters (one of which is his new girlfriend's father) and trying to find, and kill, the werewolf that bit him, this show brings back the tried and true formula of Buffy and the likes, having each season focus on a big baddie or a big mystery while the characters continue to age and grow.

Why you should watch: I'm really biased in regards to this show. I love it. It's frequently surprising, doing things you wouldn't expect both for the paranormal genre and for a TV show with teens. But outside of that, we're back to the relationships. One of the things I LOVE about Teen Wolf is that all the characters have at least one parent. And those parents play large rolls in the show and the teens relationships with their parents are never forgotten. Details are not forgotten in this show, so even when MC Scott is dealing with werewolf crap and girlfriend crap and other crap, his grades begin to suffer and suddenly he's in danger of being held back a year unless he can get his crap under control.
Also, the best friend relationship between MCs Scott and Stiles is worth the watch alone. It helps that the actors are best friends in real life, because that really comes through, especially in later seasons when it starts to get darker (and scarier. There are some great episodes if you're a fan of horror)

So! Any TV shows you think I missed?


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Good thing I don't write young adult then, as I haven't seen any of those.

Trisha F said...

The only one I've seen is VERONICA MARS ... and I LOVE IT TO BITS. Haven't seen the movie yet, but you can already pre-order it on DVD here, so I am going to do that. I totally would have gone to the cinema if they bothered to show it in my state. Boo!

I've seen ads for Friday Night Lights and it looked really good, kind of a good intense drama. But I haven't got around to watching yet.

And nope ... haven't seen Teen Wolf either.

Rebecca T. said...

The other thing that I love about Veronica Mars is how real Veronica is. She's sometimes downright mean and selfish, but she's always growing and learning and trying to figure out how to deal with her own baggage. It makes me like her more because she's very not perfect.

And I totally agree with Teen Wolf. I love that I really never know what to expect and seriously - Scott and Stiles' friendship is one of the best things about the show.

I have another one to add, which will probably get a major eyeroll, but I have a specific reason - Pretty Little Liars. Yes, it's ridiculous. But the thing that has really got me intrigued is the way they keep the mystery developing for so long. Even though all of the characters are kind of awful, the writers manage to make them interesting and even oddly likable while keeping everything in limbo - you really have no idea who you can trust. So if you can look past some of the outrageous eyerolling moments, it has some great pacing and teenage drama stuff going on. Also, I love the fact that the girls actually attend class, worry about grades, and have to deal with family stuff like parents divorcing/remarrying, sibling rivalry, etc on top of the other craziness going on.

Catherine Stine said...

I've seen Veronica Mars. Got to check out Teen Wolf!

M.J. Fifield said...

I love Veronica Mars so very much. It's one of my all time favorite shows.

I haven't seen the other two shows, though, but I have Teen Wolf on my Must Watch ASAP list.

Maria Zannini said...

I watch so little tv it's pathetic. I do little marathons of sf shows from Netflix though.

Weren't they doing a Kickstarter program for Veronica Mars?

Ellie Garratt said...

I haven't watched any of these. I so need to get Netflix.

Jamie Gibbs said...

I've not seen any of those, but I've seen a few clips of Teen Wolf (largely due to Tumblr).

The fan's support of Veronica Mars for the movie has be intrigued; I would like to give the series a shot someday.

Rena said...

Hmmm, I may have to set aside some time to watch some TV (I haven't seen any of those).

Also, thanks for the recommendations. I hadn't watched TV for years and I watched this show (you'll laugh), and I was SO CAUGHT UP IN THE DRAMA. and I'm like "Wait, how long has this Idol thing been on?" Yeah, I live under a rock.

mshatch said...

You talked me into Veronica Mars.

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