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Friday Fun: TV Shows to Refuel the Creative Tank with Justine Manzano

TV Shows to Refuel the Creative Tank with Justine Manzano

In the spirit of Kristin’s recent post about films that help refuel the creative tank, I decided I would come here and talk television shows. I tend to be an obsessive fandom person, and for whatever reason, movies, while wonderful, don’t provide enough meat to really fill my well. There are many movies I love, but I’m not a big movie rewatcher.

Television shows though? Those I can rewatch all the time. Those are my comfort programs. The things that I go to when my creativity is struggling. So today I’m going to share a few of the television shows that always bring my creative mind back up to speed.

Now, I want to start with a disclaimer. My original choices for years would have been Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. I loved those shows with all my heart. Unfortunately, Joss Whedon, the creator of these shows and thoughts of his toxic behavior on the set of these shows kinda ruined it for me. And now, onto the amazing offerings. :)


If ever there was a show where the creators weren’t afraid to do anything, this is it. Farscape is the space opera style story of astronaut John Crichton who, during a test flight, gets shot through a wormhole to the other side of the universe and, through a series of unfortunate events, ends up on a ship filled with escaping prisoners of various alien origin. Due to his accidental clipping of a spaceship on his way to this side of the universe, he ends up the target of the same terrifying imperialistic group of space police as the prisoners. And as the series progresses, the wormhole knowledge stored in his brain makes him the target of several warrior groups looking for the next weapon. Action, adventure, and a surprising amount of humor, Farscape takes crazy risks. Henson Puppets (That’s right, this is a Jim Henson production) as main characters, fart jokes, duplicating your main character, killing main characters, and the strongest main character romance I’ve ever endured (and I mean it…endured. John and his love Aeryn Sun just about killed me.) Farscape is sorely underrated.

Stargate SG-1

This one is a little more subdued. The mostly episodic tale of Colonel Jack O’Neil and his team of explorers who travel through wormholes in search of allies against the evil Goa'uld, a race of parasitic snake-like aliens who thrive by using humanoids as hosts. While there are continuing arcs, a large part of the fun of this story is in watching the team meet new alien races and get into all kinds of trouble as they go. Since the Goa’uld took on the names and histories of ancient Egyptian Gods, and were here on Earth in those days, there are loads of fun mythology-based shenanigans. And since they have a super-excitable archeologist on their team, Daniel Jackson, all of this mythology is explained. It’s a fun story, and Jack and Daniel are awesome comedic foils. And then every now and then, they break your heart. Because would it be good if they didn’t?

Stranger Things

Over the last decade or so, as my son has grown, I realized something that he and I have in common. We’re theorists. It started with games and grew from there. I realized that anything that has a mystery to unravel brings out the greatest interest in the two of us. We shoot ideas back and forth, and sometimes come up with awesome conclusions. Every now and then, we’re even right! Stranger Things is GREAT for theorizing, and theorizing is great for learning to plot. The story of dimension rifts tearing into a mysterious small town, Stranger Things has amazing actors, 80’s nostalgia, and heartfelt storylines. Add to that the fact that the series is a masterclass on how to handle an ensemble cast, and you’ve got a winner.

My Hero Academia

My Hero Academia follows a group of high schoolers at a school for superheroes, in a world where 80% of the population has superpowers. This is another masterclass in how to handle an ensemble cast. Not only does creator Kohei Horikoshi create several unique personalities that he maintains throughout the story, but he creates enough weird and unique superpowers for them all to use, and finds interesting ways to throw them together in battle and training. So much creativity just has to rub off, right? Not to mention the characters are just the best. This is one I thought I wouldn’t like, but I fell in love with it instantly, despite how bizarre it can be.

Attack on Titan

Humanity lives inside of walls that protect him from the Titan threat…until a Titan (giant humanoid monster that eats people) breaks through the walls and sends them all streaming into humanity’s home. We follow Eren Yeager, starting when the Titan destroys the walls in his town, and following him through his desperate journey to soldier. Because Eren has sworn to end the Titan threat, and he’s going to succeed, no matter what it takes. It’s funny, because every one of the shows I mentioned earlier are comfort shows, even when they get dark. Attack on Titan brings the PAIN. Not only are they not afraid to kill on this show, but they aren’t afraid to make those characters beg for their lives. If any anime puts the horrors of war on display, it's this one. And anyone who has read The Order of the Key know, there’s nothing I like to do more than bring the pain. So…inspiration.

If you check out even one of these, I’ll be happy. And feel free to track me down on social media and tell me if you do, or if you already love any of these series. I’d love to hear all about it.

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