Writers Guild's "101 Best Written TV Series"

The Writers Guild of America has released its list of "101 Best Written TV Series." I'm thrilled that four of my favorite TV shows ever are in the top 5. Here's the top 10:

1. The Sopranos
2. Seinfeld
3. The Twilight Zone
4. All In The Family
5. M*A*S*H
6. The Mary Tyler Moore Show
7. Mad Men
8. Cheers
9. The Wire
10. The West Wing
"101 Best Written TV Series" (WGA)


      1. It’d be a fine list if it was just for US shows, but the fact that they have a couple of UK shows on there means that this list covers ALL TV SHOWS EVER IN THE WORLD IN EVERY COUNTRY. Father Ted isn’t on there, so you can pretty much discount the list as massively lopsided and incomplete.

          1. Yes. Father Ted wasn’t however, so the list is wrong. Nothing can convince me otherwise.

    1. It make sense that Firefly isn’t there.  Why include *good* shows in a list that contains ThirtySomething and Golden Girls.

      1. I can’t speak to ThirtySomething, but Golden Girls managed to address a fairly wide variety of topics and issues. In that regard, I think the show was commendable.

          1. And they were women, at that, but I didn’t want to blow too many minds all at once.

  1. Boy oh boy if this isn’t subjective as all hell. :P

    I personally couldn’t stand Seinfeld. I acknowledge its success, but I definitely disagree with its #2 spot.

    1. Boy oh boy if this isn’t subjective as all hell.

      You might consider that a list of “best written” shows compiled by a group of writers is less subjective than a list of “favorite” shows compiled by a group of stoners generic television watchers.

        1. It wasn’t meant as a jab. Just that a specific accolade from the members of a specific industry isn’t a general endorsement.

  2. Let’s all do ’em; my top ten shows of all time are:

    Six Feet Under
    Buffy the Vampire Slayer
    Parks and Recreation
    Mad Men
    Breaking Bad
    Adventure Time
    Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
    The Simpsons
    King of the Hill

    While I recognize the brilliance in classic sitcoms I’ve always hated laugh tracks. Especially when they’re recycled and you repeatedly hear some dude’s ridiculous a-hyuk-style guffaw that’s been tragically immortalized to be repeated on television for all time… 


      Adventure Time

      Goodness, yes — Adventure Time is probably the most clever social Trojan Horse ever created. That show consistently explores deep-rooted blind spot issues in both internal and external mental health without ever seeming like it’s doing so.

      1.  Hell yeah!
        “Do you think it hurts meat man when he gives us his meat?”http://imgur.com/YK5q9″I had a dream about meat man…I think I’m going to stop eating meat man.”

        1. I love it when Jake’s eyes are more black than white to signify he’s a bit out of his head.

    2. Came to lament Six Feet Under not being on the list. Certainly one of the greatest shows ever put to film.

  3. I know this probably doesn’t belong here, but after seeing all the plot holes that come into play in the Star Trek movies, I am amazed at how well written the original TV shows were.  Complex time travel plots, etc.  

      1.  No kidding.   Was stunned to see Battlestar Galactica being on there.    While a fun show it was obvious the writers has no plan and the ending was downright irritating.

  4. Deadwood at number 30 something? It’s just the best written series of all time, the dialogue is absolute poetry, dirty poetry, but poetry. It’s not for no reason that it got regularly compared to Shakespeare…  

      1. Ditto, I came here to say this too!
        … (perplexed pause, then…)
        “If I wanted an echo, I would have addressed the fucking mountain.”

  5. Downton Abbey before Homicide: Life on the Street???!!!!! Okay, I’m done.  Talk to the hand, Writer’s Guild.

  6. Nobody will be satisfied with this list, of course. But The Daily Show and no The Colbert Report is criminal incompetence. Breaking Bad and Six Feet Under are both too low down.

  7. I note that there are some writers that worked on several of those shows (I know that writers for Mary Tyler Moore later went on to write for Cheers), so it would appear that some TV writers are deserving of their own accolades.

  8. It’s just another America-centric “best” list.

    Look up “Coupling” if you want to see an extremely well-written British sitcom.
    Also, “Yes, Minister” and “Yes, Prime Minister” should easily make it onto such a top 100 list.

    1. Well it is the “Writer’s Guild of America”.

      If you wanted to include UK shows you could have another list.  Yes Minister, Rumpole of the Bailey, Monty Python, Faulty Towers, Blackadder, Keeping Up Appearances…

      1.  Except the list does include shows from the U.K. They even make a point of putting the U.K. version of The Office higher on the list (50) than the U.S. version (66).

  9. All ‘best of’ lists are of course subjective…but most of these (I feel) deserve it: IAJAVIANAW.

    (I didn’t bother scrolling down all 101: once I saw that The Simpsons and Breaking Bad were in the running that was enough for me)

    Longevity counts. Thus M.A.S.H., Cheers…and especially The Simpsons right up there at number 11 deserve kudos. Using cast to best effect, originality…it is an art form of the modern variety and I feel very lucky to have enough freedom and free time to be able to enjoy many of these entertaining productions.But this is a list that writers like…and The Twilight Zone getting number three has got to be due to the memorable, impacting episodes: of which there are exactly four. Requiem for a Heavyweight, Shatner vs Gremlin, Screaming lady vs Zulu idol and my favorite (Shatner again) with the devil head fortune teller box in the diner.

    But most of those old TZ episodes are CORNY AS HELL! A person does something bad and is eventually rewarded in a similar fashon: Rod Serling delivers sanctimonious homily. The End. 

    And SPEAKING of TV worth watching….where is our usual BB GOT recap and discussion? Finally when things got interesting…where is our outlet?!?

    L.A., hope everything is alright. The shock must have subsided by now…

    1.  Whaaat, you need to revisit TZ. Off the top of my head, The Monsters are Due on Maple Street, The Masks, To Serve Man, and It’s a Good Life are some of the more memorable great ones.

  10. Never cared for The Sopranos but I can appreciate it.  The Twilight Zone was a classic but almost every show seemed to end up with the protagonist getting screwed.

  11. No Babylon 5? Name another show in the “Trust us writers, we have a plan” genre that actually was planned out multiple seasons ahead.

    1. And of the Star Treks, TOS?  WTF?  DS9 was far better written than any of the others.

  12. My favorite show of all time was Asimov’s Probe. My amazing wife tracked down the complete set that someone had recorded, and had them transfer them to our own VHS for my birthday pre-Youtube… but now I hear you can find the episodes there!

    Sadly, the writer’s strike of ’88 killed it half way through it’s first season. :-{

  13. Seinfeld beat the Twilight Zone?! Seinfeld’s anywhere near the top of the list?!

  14. OK, most of the top ten were well-written, but I had to search to No. 49 to find Buffy, which, if you’re talking good writing, is flat out absurd. Not only are the individual episodes of Buffy good, but both each individual season and the series as a whole have a definite arc. Joss Whedon really understands how to create something that works on all three of those levels, which is high art in writing. I loved The Wire. All in the Family broke a lot of ground. MASH was one of the few sit coms I could watch consistently. But only The Wire approaches Buffy in terms of telling a story over a show, a season, and a series.

  15. I find a lot of these shows pretty boring honestly.  I don’t think anything touches Larry Sanders for raw, sophisticated, truly adult comedy.  No Chappelle’s Show, no Extras, booooo.  But whatever.

  16. Ok, normally I hate it when people say “how could this not be on the list!” on these types of posts … but … seriously? Where the hell is Dr. Who?

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