EriK Bork distinguishes between two types of TV tomes: the workplace procedural and the personal story.
I used to lament the fact that so many network series focus on cops, lawyers, and/or doctors. I tried pitching and developing multiple series about other kinds of workplaces. I felt, like many aspiring television writers do, that there are many different kinds of job challenges that could make for compelling television.
But in my years of doing it professionally – selling some ideas, but having many others be batted down by executives, producers, or my own agents – I’ve learned some things. And one of the chief lessons is that “work responsibilities” generally can only drive stories and series concepts for certain kinds of occupations.
The kind of jobs that can do this generally have two specific qualities. The first is that they are heroic: they involve doing something for others. The stakes of a typical story are not just friends and family, but society at large. The show’s regulars are involved in protecting, helping and/or fighting for humanity, beyond their personal sphere.
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