13

Five Shows that are Revolutionizing Television

Not too long ago, television seemed like a less-than-desirable alternative to films.
If you couldn’t find any good movies in theaters, you’d resort to flipping through vapid networks to see which shows were playing.


by Angelita Williams

Although there is still a prominent amount of fluffy television shows airing, many networks have adapted new and exciting shows into their lineups.

Throughout the 80s, 90s, and early 2000s, most TV shows came off as campy and overacted. Much has changed in recent years, however, now that television has adopted a more film-like way of storytelling, narrative, character development, and plot direction.

Throughout the 80s, 90s, and early 2000s,
most TV shows came off as campy and overacted.

Five shows in particular – Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones, Mad Men, Downton Abbey, and The Walking Dead – are leading this television revolution. For those of you who haven’t caught a glimpse of these five extraordinary shows, below is a quick synopsis of what you’re missing out on.

1. Breaking Bad

As the high-school-teacher-turned-meth-dealer, Walter White has become one of the most unpredictable television characters we’ve grown to equally love and hate.

In the beginning of Breaking Bad, we saw a family man who was trying desperately to hold it together as he battled chemotherapy, struggled to make ends meet, and worked a job he hated.

Yet when the opportunity to venture over to the dark side grew, Walter simply couldn’t resist all the temptation and luxury that came with being a drug dealer. Slowly but surely, we’ve seen a man grow more immoral and daring as the episodes roll by, and we can’t help but wonder how much further he, his right-hand man Jesse Pinkman, his wife Skyler, and his colleague Mike Ehrmantraut are willing to go.

Slowly but surely, we’ve seen a man
grow more immoral and daring
as the episodes roll by

We have no idea where this show is taking us, but that’s what makes it all so thrilling to stick around and watch. Will Walter be caught by his DEA agent brother-in-law, Hank Schrader? Will Jesse ever find out that Walter purposely poisoned his girlfriend’s son? Will Skyler be able to handle all the anxiety and stress since finding out Walter’s secret?

Who knows, but this show is well worth the anticipation you’re left with from week to week.

2. The Walking Dead

If you’re looking for a show with a happy ending, don’t watch The Walking Dead; it is a show about what the world is left looking like after a zombie apocalypse, and believe me it isn’t pretty.

Full of terrifying zombies, gut-wrenching storylines, and reoccurring feelings of hopelessness, this show is not for the faint of heart. The Walking Dead evokes a common theme that many films, books, and television shows attempt to address: the future of our world. Week to week, we watch as a handful of characters attempt to survive in a world that has lost all civilization, morality, and safety.

this show is not for the faint of heart.

It’s every man and woman for himself or herself, and one can’t help but notice the circumstances aren’t getting better for these characters. It will be interesting to see how this story comes to an end. Let’s just hope that’s not anytime soon!

3. Downton Abbey

Talk about a flashback in time; Downton Abbey has a Victorian-esque storyline, following the everyday lives of the Crawley family and their servants during the reign of King George V.

After the sinking of the RMS Titanic in 1912, the Crawley family discovers that the only heir to their estate has died in the sinking.

This family tragedy sets in motion what the whole show has been based on for the past two seasons: an attempt to maintain the legacy and influence the Crawley family has built for generations.


it embodies a wholesome,
romantic storyline with
a few scandals thrown in
here and there.

What makes this show so popular amongst a wide range of audiences is the fact that it embodies a wholesome, romantic storyline with a few scandals thrown in here and there.

It’s not too cheesy or risqué; it manages to maintain a delicate balance that very few shows are able to uphold.

4. Mad Men

Perhaps one of the most popular television shows on right now, Mad Men has made the sixties generation all the rage again.

Former Sopranos writer Matthew Weiner has created a show about a fictional advertising agency called Sterling Cooper (now Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce) and the key individuals that work at the company.

The focal character, Don Draper, is the main reason this show is so darn intriguing. Along with Walter White of Breaking Bad, Don Draper has to be one of the most unpredictable, shameless, and mysterious characters we’ve ever encountered in television.

sexism, adultery, racism, the counterculture,
and numerous other relevant topics.

His interactions with the characters around him address common themes you’d expect to see in a show about the sixties, including sexism, adultery, racism, the counterculture, and numerous other relevant topics.

The shock factor that comes along with this show can’t be emphasized enough, and if you haven’t already, I’d suggest trying to catch up and see what you’ve been missing over the show’s past five seasons.

5. Game of Thrones

If I’m going to be completely honest, I’ll say that I saved the best for last.

Although it’s only two seasons in, Game of Thrones has proved to be a wildly enjoyable, well-performed series. The show is based on a medieval book series of the same title and tells the story of seven kingdoms battling to rule the Iron Throne for command of all the kingdoms, which is commonly called “playing The Game of Thrones” on the show.

The show has its moments of being gory, heartfelt, tragic, uplifting, and unbelievable, and audiences can’t wrap their minds around all the craziness. In fact, similar The Lord of The Rings, Game of Thrones has helped recreate an interest in fantasy television once more.

The show has its moments of
being gory, heartfelt, tragic,
uplifting, and unbelievable

No telling where this show will take us next when season 3 premieres in 2013, but we can bet that viewers will be tuning in to see.

Reality television may fill most the content we see on TV nowadays, but every once in a while we’ll see a great television series come along. If you haven’t already caught a glimpse of Mad Men, Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, Breaking Bad, or Downton Abbey, I’d suggest you do so!

[box]Angelita Williams is a freelance blogger who specializes in education-related content.

She’s familiar with educational practices for every age and lifestyle, from online college courses to homeschooling to traditional learning.

You can contact Angelita at angelita.williams7@gmail.com.[/box]

About the Author

Angelita Williams

Comments 13

  1. Don’t forget how The Shield, Deadwood, The Sopranos, and Rome paved the way before these shows by doing the exact same thing.

  2. I would add The Wire to Mackey’s list. Also, how do you publish without proof reading? Good article, but full of typos and grammatical errors that diminish my ability to take you seriously as a writer.

    1. Also agree about The Wire. I need to see the ending of Breaking Bad before I can say which one is my favorite.

    1. The ACTUAL revolution is that so many people DON’T watch these shows on TV but hire/buy the DVD/BluRay or torrent it. Or like me, pre-buy the Season pass on iTunes. Yep, I spent the money on Breaking Bad before it even aired. That’s commitment.

      And that IS revolutionary for a TV show in my books.

  3. What’s distinctive about these shows is that they are all well crafted. They have high production values, stories are well structured and generally the acting is engaging/authentic for audiences. The examples picked are all serialisations, some of the more popular TV series tend to be episodic.

    In terms of network ratings (I’m sure someone could dig them up) these show still struggle next to the more popular TV sitcoms and melodramas.
    The stories however seem to resonate with viewers, so studios have capitalised on selling DVD box sets, streaming/downloadable content. (see also The Wire, West Wing, Sopranos, True Blood etc, as others have pointed out).
    Does popularity mean revolutionary. What’s missing in this article is evidence of what/how TV has been revolutionised. Are we talking about the film making craft, something unique in the writing or just the changing habits of audiences?

  4. You didn’t say anything about how these shows are “revolutionizing” television in any way. This sounds more like an advertisement for AMC than a well-thought out article.

  5. Revolutionary? Have
    you been sleepwalking through the past two decades?

    Although all of
    these shows are well made, well written, well acted, AND definitely contain
    unusual (meaning out-of-the-ordinary) subject matter, I don’t see them as
    revolutionary. Not in a way that has turned the industry upside-down, or as
    examples that show how to tell stories better. At best, they may serve as
    examples that show a heretofore under served audience, and yet, not big enough
    audiences to attract the broadcast networks.

    Take Downton Abbey,
    a show seen on PBS, but one that is not exactly a revolutionary show for that
    network. Old farts, such as myself, remember the original template for this
    show, Upstairs Downstairs. The copy of the original may have more money to
    spend on production values, but that makes it no more interesting than the
    original was. Furthermore, such costume dramas have very limited appeal for the
    general public, which is what the big broadcast networks must appeal to. Not
    since the death of Westerns has any costume drama fared well on the broadcast
    networks. So while BBCAmerica may do well with Copper, HBO with Deadwood (an
    astonishingly original historical western drama which dates all the way back to
    2004, and which you seemingly missed), and AMC with Hell On Wheels, it remains
    to be seen if such fare works for a broader audience.

    The only thing
    “revolutionary” about some of these shows is that more money is being
    spent on production values, which includes better writing, more elaborate
    settings and costumes, and more shots and editing. Even that is probably a
    by-product of a cable network’s inclination to stick out from the crowd, and
    not having to spend money on a full weekly lineup of prime-time shows, or a
    full season of shows. However, I can point to network shows that have been
    equally as well written and well-produced, and certainly as quirky and unusual:
    Once Upon A Time, House, Lost, 24 Hours, Alias, West Wing, or Fringe. All of
    these are (or were) serial dramas with on-going storylines using un-typical subject matter. And I could add a
    bunch of shows that lasted only one or two seasons: Life on Mars, The Unusuals,
    Pushing Daisies, Keen Eddie, to name but a few. These all were shows that
    pushed the boundaries of TV storytelling beyond the typical cop, lawyer, or
    doctor dramas. Unfortunately, on broadcast TV they couldn’t find audiences big enough
    to serve the networks’ needs. On cable, these shows might have had a different
    arc.

    In my mind, “revolutionary” could be better used to describe I Love Lucy, which was the first to use a 3-camera scheme, or for All In The Family, which aired on prime time yet mocked typical American values of the time, or for Monty Python’s Flying Circus, which took surreal comedy on the tube to a new level, or The Phil Donahue Show, which used audience participation in a talk show in a way never seen before, or even that soap opera, Dark Shadows, the first to use vampires, ghosts, and witches in an on-going serial drama. To use the term “revolutionary” here, and for only these five shows, only indicates youth, or perhaps some level of insularity on the part of the author.

  6. One of the least appealing aspects of discussion on the internet is the shrill commentary that always follows. ‘Fans’ will be baying for blood if you forget to mention their favourite show or put up a contrary view. Perhaps a less incendiary title could be “TV is undergoing another revolution: here are 5 examples”.

    Some of the examples Angelita has chosen are important to study as they adhere to the conventions of screen language and are thus more profilmic than most TV melodramas. They have richly layered subtext, so competent actors can play important beats, see http://thestorydepartment.com/breaking-bad-has-the-best-scene-on-television-ever/

    Most other shows mentioned below still fall back to melodrama in crucial scenes. They are overtly talkie. What is happening to the character is in the dialogue, you just need to listen and the characters will tell you how they feel (like a radio play), so they’re not always motivated by the subtext.

    I would like to see Angelita follow with an article on how local TV drama could capitalise on this new trend (revolution) in TV coming from overseas.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *