The CW (formerly The WB and UPN) is a force to be reckoned in the world of teen drama. I watched a good number of their shows, back when I was a more appropriate age to be watching teen dramas, and they’ve definitely left a lasting impact.
Vampires before they sparkled
Attractive young adults in a show about vampires? No frickin’ way.
Before The Vampire Diaries TV series, there was Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. I started out somewhat interested in Buffy, but I didn’t get sucked into Joss Whedon’s Buffyverse until the Angel spin-off. I watched both shows religiously even after Buffy was booted from The WB lineup to second string on UPN.
Though I watched all nine seasons of How I Met Your Mother, I’ll always remember Alyson Hannigan and Alexis Denisof as Willow and Wesley (before Lily and Sandy Rivers). At E3 (don’t ask me how I got in), I once awkwardly shook Eliza Dushku’s hand: the most interaction I’ve had with a Hollywood celebrity in all my years living in and around Los Angeles (unless you count walking past Ashton Kutcher a few times on the way to and from the restroom on the set of Jobs).
Beside the paranormal setting, what I love about these two shows is the sometimes-ridiculous character banter, and how no character gets to be cool 100% of the time. When a character’s cool-meter gets close to being full, the writers have something comical happen to him or her (I’ve noticed people other than Whedon doing this, a recent example being Ronan in Guardians of the Galaxy—the humor in Guardians reminded me so much of Whedon I had to double check to see that he wasn’t involved).
So, if the characters in my novels have borderline-annoying back-and-forth conversations, and something embarrassing happens to my protagonist when he or she is trying to be cool, you probably have Joss Whedon to blame. Luckily, I didn’t watch Firefly until after I finished several drafts of my novel. Otherwise, it might have been too Whedoned-out.
Aliens, so many aliens
In Roswell, three teenage extraterrestrials are sent to Earth as children to escape harm on their home planet. They learn about their origins, fall in love with humans, keep their alien ancestry a secret, and use their superpowers to do stuff (it was pretty awesome when Max discovered his new force field-like ability; and cheesy when his alien-prince healing powers transferred to Michael).
At the time, Roswell had more drama than any show I’d ever watched, so it might have been my gateway into fiction that doesn’t have its focus on action or comedy.
After its second season, Roswell was demoted from the WB and shipped off to UPN to make room for another show with a very similar premise, but a much stronger franchise: Smallville, also a show about an alien child sent to Earth and raised by human parents. This series about a young, mild-mannered Clark Kent was a clear favorite of mine for at least a year or two. If you’ve read my other posts, you might have guessed that I have a preference for square bear heroes; the pre-tights Superman of Smallville fits the bill.
Along with Buffy and Angel, these two shows about aliens helped to develop my interest in YA science fiction and paranormal stuff.
Regular human beings . . .
I also watched shows on the WB that didn’t involve vampires or aliens.
It was through Everwood and its super-serious (and very frustrating) drama that I was first exposed to Chris Pratt and Emily VanCamp; Pratt and VanCamp have both recently shown up in the Marvel Cinematic Universe as Peter “Starlord” Quill and Agent Sharon Carter (Captain America’s potential love interest). And, apparently, the two actors dated for a little while (the things you learn while writing blog posts).
Then, there’s One Tree Hill, which I liked for a season or two (when the brothers were still jerks to each other), and then stopped liking when people started swapping significant others like trading cards. I can no longer think of this show without remembering the bit from Family Guy (“♪High school is such a serious thing, these problems matter♪“).
Overall, the pure-drama shows didn’t influence me as much as their more action-packed WB brethren. During this era of television, if a show didn’t involve superhuman abilities, I’d probably prefer it be a sitcom (e.g., Friends and Boy Meets World).
I guess I should have included The Wayans Bros. in this post rather than my other one, since the show was actually on the WB. And, wow, it took me 15+ years but now I finally see why they might have called the show The Wayans Bros—Wayans Bros. and Warner Bros.