My favorite five: Bookish TV shows

Editor’s note: This is the first in a weekly series where I list my top five favorites in various categories. I encourage you to disagree with me and, when needed, set me straight.

Like many of us, I watch entirely too much television. But the last few years, I’ve tried to make much of that viewing about writers or the publishing industry. So, here are my favorite television shows about novelists or the book publishing industry.

1. Castle

No, it’s not just because the titular character and I share the same first name and I hope to be Richard Castle when I grow up. Okay, maybe it is. But the magnetic main character, the chemistry of this cast, and the 3XK and Senator Bracken storylines make this one of my favorite TV shows ever, not just in this category.

2. The Affair

Not only does this show give glimpses into both the glamour and struggle of being a novelist, but it has tragically flawed characters. And, while it may not be for all TV viewers, I love how “The Affair” plays with story structure and shows scenes from different points of view with subtle (and sometimes not-so-subtle) changes.

3. Younger

I know that much of what happens in this show is dramatized and not exactly how publishing works. Still, to see the process play out with incredibly charming, fun characters and great dialogue is fascinating. I also love how the show pokes fun at popular culture. This is a show worth watching even if you’re not interested in publishing.

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4. Californication

As with “Castle,” I find myself drawn to His Hankness. The hijinks are mostly fun, and there’s probably a part of every novelist who wishes we could all go full Bukowski on the world. This one would’ve been ranked higher, but there is sometimes a little too much crude humor that just doesn’t land with me.

5. Girls

This seems to be polarizing, but I’m a fan. The characters aren’t very likable, which isn’t a huge turnoff for me, though the lack of learning and character growth did keep this one from being higher on the list. On the other hand, I thoroughly enjoyed the Iowa storyline and how that resolved.

HM. You

This one would have been in the top five if it didn’t suffer from “the book was better” syndrome. Or, even closer to the medium of television, the audiobook was better. Still, this show is compulsive and entertaining, especially the first season.

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