What A TV Writer Watches When She Isn’t Writing Her Own Show (Or Novel)

by  | December 6

You could say Tracy McMillan is pretty busy. She is the author of I Love You and I’m Leaving You AnywayWhy You’re Not Married …Yet, and her first novel, Multiple Listingsis out in paperback today. Go get it right now! And oh yeah, she is currently an executive producer and writer on Amazon Prime’s Good Girls Revolt, which is why her opinions about television should be heeded as those of an expert and a #boss. Take it away Tracy!

As you are no doubt already aware, we are currently living in (through?) a Golden Age of Television—a phrase so overworked at this point, it should be a drinking game. What you never hear mentioned, though, is how this G.A.o.T. has given rise to a companion era: a Golden Age of Talking About Television.

(Related: Here’s What Book You Should Read Based on Your Favorite Stranger Things Character)

There are more than 400 shows on TV (or your phone, or your computer), and you can’t go to a dinner party or a sit through an intermission or even a kid’s soccer game without being forced to hear somebody talking to somebody else about them. You know what I mean. The conversation starts with a breathless, Are you watching (fill in the blank)? And immediately everyone who is watching (fill in the blank) pops to attention and everyone who isn’t tunes out.

(Related: 14 Book Recommendations Based on Your Favorite TV Show)

So, because 1. I am a television writer (when I’m not writing books) who really loves television and 2. I really do hate to miss out on a trend, I’m here to talk about TV. But I’m not going to ask you breathlessly if you’re watching (fill in the blank). I’m going to make some suggestions about what to watch and when. Because if you’re like me, when you sit down to watch one of the 400 shows on TV, the question you ask yourself is: What am I in the mood for?

When You’re Worried Where The World Is Headed: Black Mirror

I love this slightly paranoid but really insightful and thought-provoking show about humanity’s relationship to the computer/internet/social-networking because I like to worry about these things, but only in a really controlled way with great visuals and inspired storytelling.

When You Need Some Yummy Eye Candy: Downton Abbey

I’ll admit I’m partial to Seasons One and Two not (just) because they’re more grounded and (possibly) better written. No. I like them because the clothes in Seasons One and Two kick the asses of the clothes in later seasons. The shapeless shifts of the Twenties just don’t do it for me, sorry. Give me a million buttons, an ankle boot, and a sick wide-brimmed hat any day.

When You Just Want To Check-Out: House Hunters International


Hands down. This show combines my three major obsessions: Real estate, travel, and relationships. If you want to lust over a Hausmann-style crown molding, feel a new appreciation that you’re not married a super-controlling spouse, and experience surprising gratitude about the size of your refrigerator, THIS IS YOUR SHOW. 

When You Want To Be Wowed By a POV You’ve Never Seen Before: Atlanta

This is a show that continually surprises and isn’t afraid to break the rules, (even its own). I’d say that it’s about a rapper who is managed by his cousin but that would tell you nothing about the writing, the direction, the vision behind this show. Executive produced by its star, Donald Glover, it’s just one of the smartest things going. And the fact that I could binge five episodes straight while sitting next to my 19-year-old son—well, that’s just a bonus. 

When You Want To Be Grateful You’re Getting Older: Girls

If you’re actually in your twenties, this show could be construed as a fantasy of being in your twenties: where you live in Brooklyn, and wear jolie laide outfits, and try to make it there so you know you can make it anywhere. But if you’re not, Girls is just a great reminder of why people say youth is overrated. Because it sort of (totally, actually) is.

When You’re Looking For a Good Time: Good Girls Revolt

Okay, full disclosure: I’m a writer on this show. And when people ask me what it’s about, I sometimes say it’s Mad Men, in a newsroom, from the women’s point of view. What I truly love about Good Girls Revolt is that takes on the real issues facing women in 1970—which are pretty much the real issues facing women in 2016—but also really enjoys the excitement and expansion of the era. You could even say it’s feminist fun.


And hey, don’t forget to snag a copy of Tracy’s hilarious novel Multiple Listings, out in paperback today!

Barnes & Noble / Amazon / Indiebound