Getting inspiration from TV shows
TV shows can be a great source of inspiration. And they can go beyond TV Tropes and even into something (almost, let’s not kid ourselves, folks) profound. So, what do I mean?
For the most part, we see three kinds of television programs:
And then they subdivide, e. g. comedy divides into sketch shows like Saturday Night Live, or sitcoms like Will and Grace, or most cartoons. And drama divides into genres such as police procedurals, westerns, etc. Furthermore, reality television is really drama, by the way. And finally nonfiction comprises the news and documentaries, but also educational programming for children. While a few potential outliers (such as music videos), or hybrid programs with both drama and comedy (e. g. Desperate Housewives) exist, most shows hit one of the big three categories.
Because everyone is inspired differently, consider how fan fiction grabs you. Very often, you watch a program but feel it’s incomplete. Or you might want a different ending or to gender swap the characters. By doing this with all television, and not just your own personal fandom, you can garner a ton of inspiration. Naturally, you need to stay out of copyright infringement territory. However, there’s no copyright on basic ideas, just on their execution. Consider all the fish out of water comedies. Or think of episodes with people caught in a freezer. They exist because those situations work. And all the writers do is add a different spin on it all.
In addition, consider the characters and their portrayers. Why is a character of African descent? Is it because they are having authentic experiences, or an attempt at diversity, or is it tokenism? When Jewish characters (for example) are on the screen, does the audience get more than an occasion reference to Chanukah? Or do they just get a surname, or a trope? Are LGBTQ characters defined by their sexuality, or are they stereotyped, or is it no big deal? And look at the smart characters, the dumb ones, and the evil ones. Do characters have any sort of depth at all?
You can get great inspiration from television viewing. Look at shows with a critical eye and consider how you’d improve or change them. Mash them up and make these ideas your own.