WGA Release ‘Top 101 Best Written TV Shows’ List – Gives ‘Sopranos’ Number 1 Spot

Published 1 year ago by

wga top 101 written sopranos WGA Release ‘Top 101 Best Written TV Shows’ List – Gives ‘Sopranos’ Number 1 Spot

Lists ranking the top “whatever” are always an exercise in fire starting because of the subjective nature of the entertainment industry, but occasionally one of these lists comes from a source with enough authority on the matter at hand to make a head turn (though, not necessarily make it nod in agreement), and that’s just what we have now as the Writers Guild of America has released a list of the 101 Best Written TV Series.

Topping the list is David Chase’s venerable mob drama The Sopranos with Jerry Seinfeld’s show about nothing, Seinfeld, coming in at number 2. The Twilight Zone, All in the Family, and Mash rounded out the top 5 with the rest of the list doing a fair job of representing every genre and era in television history, though not everyone will feel that way.

For one thing, there are surely going to be people who say that the list somewhat inordinately rewards relatively newer shows with just shy of half the list featuring shows that premiered in 1990 or later, including the top spot, which could have justifiably gone to any one of the other shows in the top 5.

There are also 21 shows on the list that are presently on the air, assuming you count Arrested Development (16th) and 24 (71st). Newer shows that somewhat surprisingly didn’t make the cut were the wildly imaginative Community and the polarizing Lena Dunham penned series, Girls.

wga top 101 written daily show WGA Release ‘Top 101 Best Written TV Shows’ List – Gives ‘Sopranos’ Number 1 Spot

Late night shows like Late Night with David Letterman, The Colbert Report, Saturday Night Live, and The Daily Show placed on the list, with The Daily Show coming in at a somewhat surprising 17th, but the guild had no love for Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show, Conan O’Brien’s Late Night, or Letterman’s time at CBS with The Late Show.

Shows with a strong female protagonist like The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Murphy Brown, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer made the list, but classics and favorites like Maude, Cagney and LaceyDesigning Women, and The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd failed to, as did Ally McBeal, a show that was lauded for its clever writing during its time on the air.

As was said before, about half the list featured shows from the last 25 or so years, but the preceding near-half century of television was also represented with a focus on legendary sitcoms like I Love Lucy and The Honeymooners, dramas like Gunsmoke, and anthology series’ like Alfred Hitchcock Presents and The Twilight Zone. Again, though, there is room to gripe about the absence of Hogan’s Heroes, Bewitched, The Jack Benny ShowThe Outer Limits, Night Gallery (though, one wonders if Guild Members thought one mention sufficed for Rod Serling and others like Letterman and Bob Newhart), and more.

wga top 101 written night gallery WGA Release ‘Top 101 Best Written TV Shows’ List – Gives ‘Sopranos’ Number 1 Spot

Really, this all comes down to one’s perception of what a well written TV show is and undoubtedly, any one of us could go down this list and lop off 15 or 20 of the guild’s choices and swap in some of our own. That’s part of the charm of these lists: they make everyone into an expert and everyone else into a fool.

So, with that said, here’s a link to the complete WGA list of the 101 Best Written TV Series, check it out and then let us know which shows you think got robbed.

___

Source: WGA

Get our free email alerts on the topics and author of this article:

93 Comments

Post a Comment

GravatarWant to change your avatar?
Go to Gravatar.com and upload your own (we'll wait)!

 Rules: No profanity or personal attacks.
 Use a valid email address or risk being banned from commenting.


If your comment doesn't show up immediately, it may have been flagged for moderation. Please try refreshing the page first, then drop us a note and we'll retrieve it.

  1. that list was garbage..the wire was far better than sopranos..boardwalk empire is beyond brilliantly written deserved a higher spot atleast in top 5..BREAKING BAD is the best show on tv ever dont care wat nobody says it shud be #1 community is so underrated cant believe it aignt on the list it’s so creatively written dead funny..ARCHER FUNNIEST SHOW ON TV wasn’t included wats wrong with these guys..no sherlock,justified rating so low…disappointing list!!!!

    • Breaking Bad is in my Opinion the BEST SERIES EVER. Yes I watch GoT Boardwalk and the Soprano’s but the Character development+humor+ concept just isn’t as strong. —-SPOILERS—– when Walter is out in the desert and says “SAY MY NAME” that just blew my mind + the line “I’m not in the money business I am in the EMPIRE business.

    • I don’t agree with Sporanos as No. 1, but Breaking Bad is one of the most boring shows in the history of television. It is so overrated it’s not even funny.

      And this list was garbage. The West Wing at No. 10? Are you kidding me!? That show was complete trash.

      Not sure what the definition of “best written” is – diologue? story? combo of both? – but that would have been nice to know before the list was published.

  2. LOST is too way down there, it should be in the top 10.

  3. No “Family Guy”? No thanks.

  4. Shameless US is a great drama.

  5. I am shocked with shows being on the list and shows not on the list. I think the Tutors, The Walking Dead, Person of Interest, Spartacus, and Scrubs should be on the list. Spartacus, IMO, had the best series finale since I can remember and should be at least top 20.

  6. wow no walking dead, shameless, community, or rescue me. i need a new list

    • and where is spartacus?

  7. 30 Rock was 21 on the list! :) Tina Fey rocks! lol (no pun intended)

  8. Tales from the Crypt?

  9. I am a fan of FNL and Fringe. Not to take anything away from FNL, but I think Fringe is better, so to not have it on the list is just wrong.

  10. Neon Genesis Evangelion, American Horror Story, Fringe and My So-Called Life.

  11. Deadwood is about 32 spots too low on this list.

  12. I’m sorry but where is Smallville’s inclusion in the listing?

    We are talking about probably the greatest tv show of the noughties and it’s not included. It makes no sense why Smallville is not included – what is going on here?

    Sorpranos best written? Did they not watch the ‘do not adjust your sets’ disaster of a series finale?

  13. On what Earth is Sopranos more well-written than The Twilight Zone?

    • On what Earth is Sopranos more well-written than The Twilight Zone?

      On an Earth where people aren’t trapped in a fog of nostalgia like you and millions of other people.

  14. The west wing is No 10?

    the sopranos are number 1?

    this list is number 2

  15. So Friends, Saturday Night Live, The West Wing, 30 Rock Friday Night Lights and Fraiser were more well written than Lost , South Park, the X-Files, Dexter and Curb Your Enthusiasm? How absolutely ridiculous.

    • Curb isn’t a show that is written all that well because a lot of the diologue is adlibbed. It’s a great show, maybe one of my five favs ever, but I wouldn’t call it a well-written show.

      But all this goes to the not knowing what they mean by “best written.” Curb was on the list, but David has said he doesn’t write much except for the scenes and the story. Is it story? Is it diologue? Is it a combo of both? If so, which outweighs the other? Best written is too nebulous descriptor to be able to really get too angry over the list.

  16. Where is Sons Of Anarchy and American Horror Story?! And how is The Soprano’s better than Breaking Bad?! This list sucks. TEXAS FOREVER!

    • Sopranos (no apostrophe) is better than Breaking Bad because it is better than Breaking Bad. Breaking Bad sucks, hard. It’s the dullest show I have ever tried to watch.

  17. GoT and Breaking Bad IMO should have been in the top 20

    • The Sopranos #1? “BREAKING BAD” only made #13. BEHIND “SEINFELD”. These people may be successful paid writers but they are stoned or brain dead. However this does partially explain why 95% of all movies and TV shows are complete garbage. Because the crap these hacks crank out like another consumer product is what gets bought and turned into real TV and movies. Stuck in an infinite loop-back to the 95% CRAP part.

      These writers have no idea how much money they save me on movies and cable TV channels. if there were better stuff i’d pay for it. I got Netflix just to get caught up on Breaking Bad before the series ended. As for movies-haven’t gone to a theater in 3 years. $25 for something like “Meet the Millers”? That’s not entertainment, that’s theft!

  18. Saddened that “Rescue Me” isn’t on this list. And the order of series seems odd. It should go:
    1) Sopranos
    2) Breaking Bad
    3) The Wire
    4) Mad Men
    5) The Shield
    But, most of these shows are worthy, some not so much, and the order of shows difficult.

  19. Hi there! I know this is kind of off topic but I was wondering which blog platform are you
    using for this website? I’m getting sick and tired of WordPress because I’ve had problems
    with hackers and I’m looking at options for another platform.
    I would be fantastic if you could point me in the direction of a good platform.

    My page; download music from youtube to mp3

  20. The Sopranos #1? “BREAKING BAD” only made #13. BEHIND “SEINFELD”. These people may be successful paid writers but they are stoned or brain dead. However this does partially explain why 95% of all movies and TV shows are complete garbage. Because the crap these hacks crank out like another consumer product is what gets bought and turned into real TV and movies. Stuck in an infinite loop-back to the 95% CRAP part.

    These writers have no idea how much money they save me on movies and cable TV channels. if there were better stuff i’d pay for it. I got Netflix just to get caught up on Breaking Bad before the series ended. As for movies-haven’t gone to a theater in 3 years. $25 for something like “Meet the Millers”? That’s not entertainment, that’s theft!

  21. Good day! Do you know if they make any plugins to assist with
    SEO? I’m trying to get my blog to rank for some
    targeted keywords but I’m not seeing very good success.

    If you know of any please share. Appreciate it!

    Here is my blog :: Sims 3 generations serial

Be Social, Follow Us!!