The Talk: 10 Shows for Creatives
Updated: Jun 11, 2018
Spending time in your own head is paramount. Know yourself, as a Creator that is rule #1. But the best and most comprehensive ideas and most powerful concepts are a result of input from the world and the people around us and they never come suddenly; it sits inside and then emerges.
When your job is to create original content on a regular basis, all day, every day, finding new sources of inspiration is not always convenient or even easy if you don’t know where to look. As a Digital Artist, Television and Film is the dominant creative influence in my life and plays a huge role in the way that I see the world, communicate as an Artist, and connect with people.
This is our current top ten list of shows that both educate and appeal to the creative mind.
Chef's Table, available on Netflix
Created and Directed by David Gelb, Andrew Fried, Brian McGinn, and Clay Jeter, Chef's Table is a one-of-a-kind meditation on creativity that transcends the genre of the cooking show and goes inside the lives and kitchens of six of the world's most renowned international chefs.
Each autobiographical episode turns up unexpected details that draw us closer, because there’s a moment of vulnerability or passion, heartbreak or triumph. The stories are not about food and cooking, they are about people—artists whose canvases are plates. Even when the story is explicitly about food, building up to the reveal of a particular dish, there is very little how and quite a lot of why. This is what makes this show a standout. It brings the “Life” back to Food TV.
These moments are also electrified by a fantastic soundtrack—sometimes classical pieces, sometimes original score, often strings, ranging from subtle to dramatic. These layers work together, and show the beauty and profundity in even the smallest of moments or phrases.
Gelb and his collaborators have reintroduced television to what made food work on TV in the first place: people and their passion for their work and art. By packaging chefs’ stories in a finely crafted hour that shows as much care for the medium as these chefs show for their own work, Chef’s Table elevates food but more importantly, elevates people.
Iconoclasts, available on SundanceTV, Amazon + iTunes
What do you get when you pair together two super famous creative personalities? You basically get inspiration in a bottle… or in a 60-minute TV show. Iconoclasts gives you an in-depth look at the passions and motivations of stars like Lena Dunham, Judd Apatow, Quentin Tarantino, Mario, Batali, Michael Stipe, Seth MacFarlane, Norah Jones and more.
This six part original Sundance series pairs some of today's most influential celebrities with the visionaries that inspire them. The result is a unique, intimate look at both provocative personalities and a spotlight on the cultural contributions of each. Topics include fashion and food, acting and animation, journalism and sports, and more. Thought-provoking and innovative, this one represents celebrity obsession at its finest.
Abstract, Available on Netflix
Previously featured in the January edition of The Playbook, the Netflix series Abstract takes a cue from “Chef’s Table” to spotlight great creative minds, working at the height of their talents and unafraid to reveal their vulnerabilities.
Produced by Wired’s editor-in-chief Scott Dadich, Morgan Neville and Dave O’Connor, the series aims to highlight the unique art styles and methods of eight designers from different disciplines: Graphic design, illustration, photography, architecture, interior design, set design, shoe design and automobile design. There are some pretty huge names in each category, perhaps most notable being the Danish architect Bjarke Ingels (think Via 57 West), Nike's Tinker Hatfield (think Air Jordans and Mags) and Fiat Chrysler's head of design Ralph Gilles (many, many cars).
VICE, airing on HBO
Created and hosted by Shane Smith and produced by Bill Maher, VICE is a groundbreaking HBO news magazine series that tackles global issues often overlooked by traditional media which makes the ideal go-to news program for Creatives. From anti-government rebellions, to hotbeds of terrorist activity, to conflict and corruption, "VICE" uses an engrossing documentary style to bring unique perspective to the events of today that are shaping our future.
Smith, is joined by a network of reporters including VICE co-founder Suroosh Alvi, documentary filmmaker and author Ben Anderson, Academy Award-winning documentary filmmaker and journalist Fazeelat Aslam, and Iranian photojournalist and filmmaker Gelareh Kiazand.
Austin City Limits, airing on PBS
America’s longest-running TV concert series offers viewers the opportunity to enjoy a wide variety of original, intimate performances from some of today’s most talented musicians.
In 1976 the show, which has become a staple of PBS programming and the inspiration for a major Austin music festival, was created as a platform to showcase original Texas music, but over the years the series has grown to feature a wide range of concerts from performers like R&B singer John Legend and Keith Urban to bands like Coldplay and The Foo Fighters.
ACL owes its longevity to its willingness to move beyond the local Texas music scene and embrace the diverse sounds and multicultural nature of American music and the audiences who are listening to it. Many television historians attribute MTV, CMT and VH1's success to the contributions of this groundbreaking musical series.
The Writer's Room, airing on Sundance
The Writers' Room, a talk show hosted by Academy Award-winning screenwriter and actor Jim Rash, opens doors into the minds of TV's creative thinkers.
Each episode visits the writing team for one of television's pop-culture-defining scripted shows, among them "Breaking Bad," "Parks and Recreation," "Dexter," "Game of Thrones," "New Girl" and "American Horror Story." The round-table discussions -- both hilarious and candid in tone -- reveal rare insights behind plot points, tough decisions and big mistakes. Key cast members -- including Bryan Cranston, Amy Poehler, Michael C. Hall and Jake Johnson -- join the conversations as well.
Black Mirror, available on Netflix
Rescued and rebooted by Netflix, Black Mirror is back and darker than ever. Widely acknowledged as the contemporary rework of "The Twilight Zone", "Black Mirror" delivers sharp, suspenseful, satirical tales that explore techno-paranoia and tap into the collective unease about the modern world.
Each story features its own cast of unique characters, including stars like Bryce Dallas Howard ("The Help"), Alice Eve, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Tom Cullen and Jerome Flynn ("Game of Thrones"). Joe Wright, Dan Trachtenberg, and James Watkins are among the featured directors.
Westworld, airing on HBO
Returning this Spring for Season 2 with an all-star cast that includes Oscar winner Anthony Hopkins and Golden Globe winner Ed Harris, the sci-fi western series from Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy that was inspired by the 1973 Michael Crichton film of the same name, is set in an Old West theme park where guests live out their fantasies through artificial consciousness with automatons in scenarios that are developed, overseen and scripted by the park's creative, security and quality assurance departments.
Westworld plays you. It plays you as assuredly as the skeletal fingers that dance across the piano keys in its opening sequence. Each episode draws you in and seduces you with the promise of revelations, before flipping those expectations on their head and delivering something original and finely crafted.
The Creative Class, video series available on CreativeClass.tv
The Creative Class is a collection of conversations with influential rainmakers shaping our contemporary creative industries. This series was conceived in the same vein as Abstract but the show is open to a broader range of creatives at varying stages of their careers.
Produced by WeTransfer, each season consists of five beautifully-shot ‘at-work’ video conversations where subjects share their thoughts, musings and opinions on their own creativity, the industry and how they marry technology with their passion and skills across music, art, fashion, design, and beyond..
Season 1 features include English musician, Damon Albarn, British designer, Tom Dixon, Austrian graphic designer and typographer, Stefan Sagmeister, British creator and musician, Fred Deakin and British shoe designer, Marc Hare.
The Leftovers, available on HBOGo
Let me start by saying that I consider this to be the most ambitious show of the decade. Based on the Tom Perrotta novel, The Leftovers picks up three years after the Sudden Departure, a global cataclysm in which 2% of humanity simply vanished, it follows the grief-stricken people of Mapleton, New York as they grapple with loss, feeble belief systems and the residual trauma of what could be the Rapture or just the single most confounding event of modern times, something that can be understood by neither cosmology nor philosophy.
The Leftovers is Prometheus unbound. Through three seasons and 28 episodes the show consistently delivered great visuals, complex themes, and incredible performances. I can write pages on end about the “The Leftovers,” yet there’s still something about this program that can’t be put into words. There’s something almost religious about in the way you just need to see it, feel it, and believe.
Looking for more? For more viewing suggestions and tips on content for Creatives, visit us on YouTube.
Additional shows featured in the Playbook TV lineup include: POV, Transparent, Portlandia, American Masters, The Mind of a Chef, Independent Lens, Live from Lincoln Center, Flight of the Concords, Mad Men and more.