Like young adult (YA) fiction, TV programs made by the American TV Network, The CW, focuses on storytelling aimed at teenagers and young adults. And just like young adult fiction, these shows are watched by people of all ages. Typically seen as the network that produces genre shows with love triangles such as The Vampire Diaries and Gossip Girl that have furvent fan bases, The CW shows are often dismissed as guilty pleasures for adult TV watchers, embarrassed to admit they know their Stefan from their Klaus. In addition they are often not included in discussions about TV dramas, prestige or not, because they are genre shows. We all know these are not 'serious' TV, I mean Buffy The Vampire Slayer had no impact on the TV landscape, right? Well I say, firstly, there is nothing guilty about watching a show you enjoy, and secondly genre is the best way to tell stories about difficult issues. See this great article by Mo Ryan from The Huffington Post on which shows do this well. Two of the best shows on at the moment are The 100, which has just started its second season, and the brand new show, Jane The Virgin. And before you ask, what about Arrow? I agree, this is another great example, but it is in its third season now and much has been written about the show. Anyway, back to The 100 and Jane The Virgin. Two completely different shows that have strong female protagonists at the centre in common, as well as great writing, a good cast and they both have you asking when is the next episode on? I want to spend more time here. In this world.
The 100 is science fiction. Check out the trailer for Season One below. It first seems to be a straightforward mix of Lord of the Flies and another YA dystopian novel, which is understandable because it is based on a YA dystopian novel of the same name by Kass Morgan. I have no clue if the show follows the novel so I cannot speak for the novel, but the show soon proved itself to be dark and gritty with choices having real consequences. There are romances, action, male shirtlessness and other hallmarks of a show from The CW, which can only recommend it to me, but may not be your cup of tea. The second season is two episodes in and is knocking it out of the park from a storytelling perspective. Here is hoping that it remains so. Catch up with last season and jump in now.
We are only three episodes into Jane The Virgin and it is great. It not only takes on soap opera techniques to tell the story but it also walks that fine line of mocking the tropes and making a point. And with a cast that is not white, middleclass and blonde. Start watching now. It is one for all ages.