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Whedonesque - a community weblog about Joss Whedon
"It gets exponentially prefixy."
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June 02 2013

Buffy - one of the best written tv series ever. Our very own slayer came in at #49 on the WGA's 101 Best Written TV Series list.

Granted, I think it should have ranked higher, but I'm biased.

Sometimes I just think that there should NEVER be a ranked list. That's part of the reason I like TIME's list of 100 best tv shows, it's alphabetical. Because I mean really, how can you compare things as diverse as Buffy vs The Wire vs The Simpsons vs Colbert and say one is objectively better written.... it's just silly. That said, lots of great things on the list and always love seeing respect for the Buffster.

Still, I think it should have cracked at LEAST the top 10. Certainly deserves higher placement than Lost and Battlestar, which both fell apart in many ways by the end. (Though they are still two of my favorite series of all time, don't get me wrong)

I'm probably forgetting things because if the lateness of the hour but the only really glaring omission I can think of is "Veronica Mars". That first season is just incredibly tight, novelistic writing and deserves a place much more than most things on here, in my opinion.

Also, much as "Game of Thrones" is the most important fictional narrative in my life right now I don't think it deserves to be nearly that high, if on the list at all. It just seems unfair. Not that I don't think the GOT writers do a specatacular job but they've got masterful source material to draw so many DIRECT QUOTES from. I'm sure it's still a tough project to adapt but that is a big load off of the writer's backs I would think. I mean, 10 episodes written from incredible and detailed source material vs churning out 22 new, original episodes per season as most shows have to do?

To me, one things about Buffy's writing that sets it apart is that it is genuinely intelligent and, perhaps even more importantly, subtle. I feel like a lot of shows get by on obvious quasi-intellect, like LOST which loves to name drop philosopher's all over the place to fuel it's own sense of sophistication. Buffy is the most successful use of metaphor I've seen on tv and it's enormous following in academia makes sense in that light.

But I will have to check out many of these series. Especially Sopranos. I've been meaning to make that my next marathon mission.
Well, I think it should've been ranked higher as well, but considering that the list was determined by a popular vote, I'm pleasantly surprised.

Even though I secretly believe that the world revolves around BtVS, lots of people have never actually watched it.
Of course I think BtVS should have been higher and @KaileeA42 you have a great point about not actually ranking the shows, but overall I was pleasantly surprised, particularly compared to the recognition some of these shows received from the Emmys etc.

I am horrified, however, that 24 made it, which was pretty much the worst written show I've ever watched (I watched season 1 on dvd to see what the hype was about, although to its credit, I made it all the way through, albeit under duress, the same of which cannot be said about Lost where I gave up after 8 eps, could someone please explain that one to me?)
It's a strange list. Fawlty Towers and Monty Python are well down the ranks, while a few in the top twenty look like they have their position because they are recent.
The order of the ranking is a bit odd and 49th is pretty far down the list for Buffy, but overall I think this list is pretty impressive overall -- I will keep this in mind when seeking out other shows.

Given that there tends to be a bias against SF/Fantasy genre (I'm emphasizing shows that are clearly part of that genre somehow rather than shows that have some fantasy elements, though it's a difficult distinction), it's notable what rarified company BtVS is in for shows that did manage to make it: The Twilight Zone, The X-Files, Lost, Star Trek, Twin Peaks, BSG, Game of Thrones, Buffy, Star Trek: TNG, The Prisoner. (I suppose Sesame Street and The Muppet Show are kind of fantasy but it's a different category, clearly.) I like Buffy best of these by a fair margin, though I loooove Star Trek (original and TNG) and The Twilight Zone and like BSG and GoT and The Prisoner a good deal (Lost I have mixed feelings about, and the others I am not as familiar with).

[ edited by WilliamTheB on 2013-06-03 14:07 ]
Actually I think the issue that ranking them like this you really do expose bias towards certain eras and genres. Let's face it, the people voting on these were creators but also consumers. We all consume different things by choice.

Do I really think that Shane Black, Alvin Sargent, Shonda Rhimes, and Amy Sherman-Palladino are going to have the same preferences or "objective" view? Nope. The Colbert Report over Murphy Brown? Really? Monty Python's Flying Circus in the low 70's? Eh? What's the rubric here? That's all I'd be asking.

Buffy seems low, but there's so much good here I just have to shrug. And then do I get more mad about that or a show like Louie which seems rather revolutionary in construction and only lands at #99.
I'd rank BtVS in the top handful, too, but rankings like this are inherently silly; the shows are just too disparate in genre for it to make sense. I actually find myself more annoyed by the US-centrism of the list than by Buffy's placement. They should have restricted it solely to US shows given that they were polling US TV writers. The fact that a few UK shows sneak in just points up the absurdity of the list; I mean, even if we're restricting ourselves to English-language TV, there are so many UK shows that should obviously be up in the top 10/20. And that's not to even start thinking about some of the best Canadian, Australian, NZ etc. shows. Slings and Arrows from Canada, for example.
Although it's good to see so much sci-fi and fantasy included, especially The Twilight Zone which sometimes gets overlooked nowadays, Buffy is way too low in comparison to shows like Lost and The X Files.
Yoink - I've always been surprised that there's no "CBC-South" network on cable :-).

allthignsaverage: I saw The Twilight Zone in first run, and wil BtVS is my number 1 for complicated reasons, TZ is still in my top five I'd say.
Other notable entries on the list:

Andy Griffith Show
Dick Van Dyke Show
-- for which John Whedon wrote

Golden Girls
-- for which Tom Whedon wrote

-- for which Joss wrote

-- for which Zack Whedon wrote

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