It started with Lost. I caught two seasons when the network series first aired. I remember liking the way the plot pulled me into a world as familiar as 70’s music and VW vans and as eerily unsettling as mystical number combinations and polar bears roaming the jungle. Alas, their third season started around the time I got serious writing a mystery of my own and I stopped watching. Fast forward to October, 2013. With my three books safely tucked in with my publisher, it seemed the perfect time to take advantage of that free thirty-day Netflix offer that appeared in my e-mail every other day. While Lost ultimately proved disappointing, I found myself hooked on the cozy seclusion of curling up in bed with my I-Pad in the dark.
Next it was Mad Men. The only thing disappointing about this show is that I’m all caught up and have to wait for the next season. Part social commentary, part brilliant costuming and design, and above all else a brilliantly written treatise on the cost of hubris, this show astounded me. I’d watch three episodes in a row and, with bleary eyes, glance over to the bedside clock, quickly review the demands of the next work day, and immediately justify starting yet another episode at 2:38 a.m. When I’d consumed all the Mad Men available on Netflix, I ponied up the cash to download the current season from I-Tunes. The dialogue…The hero’s journey…The clothes! Like Don Draper’s junkie ex-lover, I needed my fix.
Then came Breaking Bad. As I type this I hear a choir of heavenly angels herald the glorious tale of a chemistry teacher stumbling his way into darkness as he works to provide for his family. My husband and dogs slept bathed in the light of my IPad’s glow while I blew through every episode Netflix had in less than two weeks. I would have paid anything to see how it ended. Once more into the I-Tunes breech, credit card in hand, I binged until Walter laid in spread-eagle crucifixion on a cold stone floor. I had to hear the words that painted the story. Every episode gave me at least ten lines that inspired me to become a better writer.
Great writing is just that. Whether we’re reading words on creamy vellum or an electronic screen. Or if we’re hearing them while we watch on our gigantic wall-mounted HDTV’s or our hand-held tablets. It’s always about the words…and for my money, some of the greatest words written today are heard on television. They’re coming out of the mouth of Nookie Thompson in Boardwalk Empire. They’re delivered in medieval cadence on Game of Thrones. They’re spoken in a gentle southern drawl by Raylan Givens and Boyd Crowder on Justified.
So how about you? What shows are you binging? Where are you hearing words that stop you cold or whisk you away in this golden age of writing?