5 TV dramas that reinvented the genre (and 5 that didn’t)

With so many shows available on numerous networks and streaming platforms, drama series need to hook their audience by finding exciting new ways to showcase the genre. Many series have tried boldly different things and paved the way for fresh, contemporary reinventions.

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Other drama series stay very much in their own right, bringing a tried-and-true formula to life and presenting exactly what you’d expect from a TV drama. Many of these series manage to be popular because audiences find solace in the known. However, “necessity is the mother of invention,” and some series thrive on reinventing the rules of the genre.

ten Reimagined: Buffy the Vampire Slayer paves the way for “Big Bad”

Buffy performs a musical number

buffy the vampire slayer reinvented television drama in many ways. One of the most notable was their inclusion of supernatural elements in primetime teen dramas. By including vampires, monsters, and other ghouls among everyday teenage problems, buffy opened a gateway for a myriad of future teen supernatural dramas.

Perhaps more particularly, buffy is responsible for the sentence, “big bad guy,” used to describe the dominant villain throughout the season. This phrase became common in television series and is still used to this day.

9 Didn’t: Ginny and Georgia conform to small town, mother/daughter comfort

Ginny and Georgia get in the car

Ginny & Georgia has a lot of things to do, but creativity is not one of them. As Gilmore Girls before that, the series centers on a young mother and her teenage daughter in a small town. Plus, like many series before it, viewers can be sure there’s no shortage of forbidden love and teenage drama.

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Even the two main characters have similar personalities to the aforementioned Gilmore Girls. Ginny is a studious and responsible teenager who lives with her flabby and often irresponsible but adorable mother. However, Ginny & Georgia certainly excels in many ways that other similar series have not. Its diverse cast and sharper storylines set it apart from its predecessors and keep audiences coming back for more.

8 Reimagined: Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist Brings More Than Stunning Lip-Syncs

Characters perform a musical number in Zoeys Extraordinary Playlist

Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist was not the first series to adopt a musical format. However, he breathed fresh air into the drama genre with his approach to a surprisingly deep and poignant story. You could say that this series reinvented musical dramas in general with its inventive use of conventions to create something unique.

Instead of the usual characters who burst into song and are strangely ignored, Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist uses a twist: the musical numbers are all in Zoey’s head. Because of this, the amusing shine of the numbers provides a nice backdrop for the story being told, instead of the other way around.

7 Doesn’t: Sweet magnolias are sweet tea and cozy tropes

The wife of Sweet Magnolias hug

There’s something to be said for cheesy dialogue and comfortable, sweet magnolias, based on the book series of the same name, is just that. Even the dialogue seems like one overused Southern turn of phrase after another.

It’s almost as if the Magnolias tried to accommodate every cliched TV drama possible, from divorce and cliffhanger car crashes to teenage angst and star-crossed lovers. sweet magnolias is not here to reinvent the wheel. In fact, its predictability is part of its sweet southern charm.

6 Reimagined: American Horror Story laid the groundwork for the anthology format

In its 10-season run, american horror story (often called AHS) pushed the boundaries of network television and brought in some incredibly well-known talent. Love it or hate it, american horror story certainly reinvented modern TV series, especially when it came to formatting.

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In anthology form, each season of AHS tells a new story while using a rotating cast of actors in new roles. Many drama series have adopted this format as a way to tell many stories, each ending in one season, instead of one story spanning a multi-season arc.

5 Didn’t: Bones is an everyday procedural with lovable characters

Bones and Booth are watching someone

There’s a simple formula for procedural drama and Bones don’t deviate. Each episode concludes a mystery told through research by the FBI and the forensic team at the fictional Jeffersonian Institute. While Bones follows the rules of many other procedural series before it, its strength lies in its characters and overall relationships.

Viewers have tuned in episode after episode, not to resolve the identity of the last human remains, but rather to find solace in the show’s unique, likable, and often relatable characters.

4 Reimagined: This Is Us brought multiple timelines to the fore

The Pearson family read a bedtime story

As for TV series, It’s us is one of the best candidates to be the most dramatic. Week after week, the world goes online to follow the unfolding life of the Pearson family.

From the first episode, It’s us shocked viewers with its twists and paved the way for stories with intertwining timelines and reveals that are now used in many television series. Rich with beautiful and truthful stories and characters, It’s us continues to captivate audiences.

3 Didn’t: 9-1-1 is a wild ride with nothing new to say

Three characters from 911 Cheer

Like most procedural televisions, 9-1-1 does not reinvent the genre. The idea has been told countless ways in similar series such as chicago fire and Station 11. Its twist is that the audience follows not just one but four various first responder units; fire, EMT, police and dispatch. IIt’s not enough to reinvent, but it adds a little extra spice.

9-1-1 is a series full of rich characters but what keeps people watching is the ER madness. Tsunamis, citywide blackouts, and earthquakes seem to happen with such frequency that it’s hard to imagine why anyone would stay in Los Angeles.

2 Reimagined: Lost keeps audiences guessing until the end

Kate and Sawyer look worried

It can be said that one of the series that has most reinvented television series is Lost. From the very first episode, it left viewers with more questions than answers that would continue throughout the series. It was a cornerstone for the water cooler series. Each week found chatter from afar with theories and explanations.

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Lost also brought with it the character’s flashback where various episodes gave the audience a character-specific inside look through carefully orchestrated flashbacks. Additionally, Lost managed to create an entire universe where the rules of traditional television no longer applied, leaving audiences guessing until the very last episode.

1 Didn’t: Nine Perfect Strangers is its own worst enemy

Clients participate in an exercise at the Wellness Retreat as Masha looks on

Nine perfect strangers is a wild ride, told with an incredible cast. The problem lies in its intense desire to reinvent the genre. Unfortunately, it tries so hard that it comes full circle as a series that has nothing new to bring to the table. NPS is based on a novel of the same name in which a group of strangers meet at an undisclosed location for a wellness retreat, led by an obviously ill leader.

Unfortunately, that’s about all NPS has in common with its source material. The characters are almost comically formulaic and the story, even the big twist, becomes undeniably predictable.

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