With so many shows streamed across numerous networks and streaming platforms, drama series need to captivate audiences by finding new and exciting ways to showcase the genre. Many series have tried some daring things, paving the way for fresh and contemporary reinventions.
Other dramatic series stay very much in their tracks, bringing to life a tried and tested formula 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 familiar. However, “Necessity is the mother of invention,” and some series thrive on their willingness to reinvent the rules of the genre.
10/10 Reinvented: Buffy The Vampire Slayer Paves the Way for “Big Bad”
Buffy the vampire slayer TV drama reinvented in many ways. One of the most notable was the incorporation of supernatural elements into prime-time teen dramas. By involving vampires, monsters and other ghouls in the everyday problems of teenagers, Buffy opened a gateway for a variety of future supernatural teen dramas.
Perhaps most notably, Buffy is responsible for the sentence, “big bad”, used to describe the cross-season villain. This phrase became commonplace in television dramas and is still used today.
9/10 Isn’t it: Ginny & Georgia adapts to the small town, mother-daughter comforts
Ginny & Georgia There’s a lot to be said for it, but creativity isn’t one of them. As Gilmore Girls Before that, the series revolves around a young mother and her teenage daughter in a small town. Also, as with many series before it, viewers can rest assured that forbidden love and teenage drama will not be neglected.
Even the two title characters have similar personalities to the aforementioned Gilmore Girls. Ginny is a hardworking, responsible teenager who lives with her scaly and often irresponsible but lovable mother. However, Ginny & Georgia certainly excelling in many ways that other similar series didn’t. Its diverse cast and edgier storylines set it apart from its predecessors and keep audiences coming back for more.
Zoey’s extraordinary playlist was not the first series to adopt a musical format. However, it has breathed new life into the drama genre with its approach to a surprisingly deep, poignant story. It could be said that this series reinvented musical drama in general, using conventions in an inventive way to create something unique.
Instead of the usual characters bursting into song and strangely being ignored, Zoey’s extraordinary playlist uses a twist: the musical numbers are all in Zoey’s head. Because of this, the fun brilliance of the numbers provides a beautiful backdrop to the story being told, and not the other way around.
7/10 Isn’t it: sweet magnolias are sweet tea and pleasant tropics
There’s something to be said for cheesy dialogue and cushy drama tropes and Sweet magnoliasbased on the book series of the same name, is exactly that. Even the dialogue seems to be one overused Southern phrase after another.
It’s almost like the magnolias tried to fit into every possible cliche television drama, from divorce to cliffhanger car accidents to teenage angst and unhappy lovers. Sweet magnolias is not out to reinvent the wheel. In fact, its predictability is part of its sweet southern charm.
6/10 Reinvented: American Horror Story laid the groundwork for the anthology format
In his 10-season run American Horror Story (often referred to as AHS) has pushed the boundaries of network television and produced incredibly well-known talent. love it or hate it American Horror Story certainly reinvented modern TV dramas, especially in terms of formatting.
Using an anthology format, each season of AHS tells a new story while employing a rotating cast of actors in fresh, new roles. Many drama series have adopted this format to tell many stories, each concluding in one season, rather than telling one story across multiple seasons.
5/10 Didn’t know: Bones is an everyday procedure with lovable characters
There is a simple formula for procedural drama and Bone does not deviate. Each episode concludes a mystery told through the investigations of the FBI and the forensic team at the fictional Jeffersonian Institute. While Bone follows the rules of many other procedural series before it, its strength lying in its overarching characters and relationships.
Viewers tuned in episode after episode, not to clarify the identity of the latest human remains, but to find solace in the show’s unique, likable, and often relatable characters.
4/10 Reinvented: This Is Us brought multiple timelines to the fore
As for TV dramas, This is us is a top contender for being the most dramatic. Week after week, the world tunes in to see the life of the Pearson family unfold.
From the very first episode This is us shocked viewers with its twists and turns, leading the way in stories with interwoven timelines and revelations that are now being used in numerous television dramas. Rich in beautiful, truthful stories and characters, This is us always captivates the audience.
3/10 Didn’t know: 9-1-1 is a wild ride with nothing new to say
Like most procedural TV shows 9-1-1 does not reinvent the genre. The idea has been told countless times in series similar to Chicago fire and booth 11. Its twist is that the audience doesn’t just follow one, but four various first aid units; Fire brigade, rescue service, police and shipping. IIt’s not enough for reinvention, but it adds some extra spice.
9-1-1 is a series full of rich characters, but what’s keeping people in mind is the madness of the emergencies. Tsunamis, citywide blackouts, and earthquakes seem to happen with such frequency that it’s hard to imagine why anyone would want to stay in Los Angeles.
2/10 Reinvented: Lost keeps the audience guessing until the end
One of the series that has reinvented TV drama the most is arguably Lost. From the first episode, it left viewers with more questions than answers that would continue throughout the series. It was a cornerstone for water cooler series. Each week, chatter went far and wide with theories and explanations.
Lost also brought with it the character flashback, in which various episodes gave the audience character-specific insight through carefully orchestrated flashbacks. Additionally, Lost managed to create an entire universe where traditional TV rules no longer applied, leaving the audience guessing until the very last episode.
1/10 Hadn’t: Nine perfect strangers are their own worst enemy
Nine perfect strangers is a wild ride told with a great cast. The problem lies in his 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 Based on a novel of the same name, a group of strangers gather in an undisclosed location for a wellness retreat led by an apparently ill leader.
Unfortunately this is all NPS has in common with its source material. The characters are almost comically stereotyped and the story, even the big twist, becomes undeniably predictable.
NEXT: 10 TV dramas that remind you to be funny