You Grabbed Your Attention


Objective: For Essay #2, you will write an essay convincing someone to try a favorite TV series based on one episode.

Requirements: Choose a single episode from a favorite television or streaming show not YouTube only production. I mean something that is on ABC, NBC, CBS, TBS, Netflix, Hulu, Prime, etc. The Moraine Valley Library has a large collection of TV on DVD (along with the equipment to play the media) for anyone who needs. You will be using this show for the research paper later in the class as well so pick something that has some depth and can be used for a college-level research paper. 

Format: Use MLA style. Any primary research (direct quotes from the text–the TV show) needs to be cited with (00:00-00:00) at the end of sentences as in-text citations. A works cited end citation for the TV show used is required. 

Note: No outside research is accepted. The use of outside research will result in a failing grade for the paper. We are learning how to write an argument based on a primary text (the episode from a TV show). Secondary research will begin with the Research Paper Draft.


An outline submitted prior to the essay is required. 

The essay to be graded must be 4 pages in length. 

All assignments are due on dates noted in syllabus/Canvas Calendar and are uploaded via Canvas. 

Assignments are graded via posted rubrics that attempt to break down the departmental grading standards.

Audience: Think of your readers as people who may not know the TV show you are writing about. Pick something you like. Pick something you know about and want to share with others. Watch your episode at least twice before writing. 

Note: You may use the same episode for the Research Paper if you would like to or you may change the episode, but the same series must be used in the Research paper.

For help see these slides on How to Choose Texts for Analysis.

Approach: Persuasive, first-person discussion (why someone should try this text–first-person response, that means I think etc).  Brainstorm why someone should try the specific episode you pick. Choose one of the following as a starting point and add what you need:

Maybe the cast is the reason someone should watch a show. 

Maybe the genre is the reason someone should watch the show.

  • Maybe the content of the show is really important to a contemporary audience.
  • Maybe availability of the series is important.
  • Maybe the number of episodes in the whole series is a draw.

Remember, pilot episodes (first episodes) are not great for this as they are not fully formed examples of a series in many cases.

Use present tense, active voice verbs when writing about texts.

Sample Outline: (Do not copy my work. You do not need a visual in your outline. Remember: This is an example, not a template. You need to create something that works for you and your show; if this is copied, I can’t award the credit for the outline)

Intro: Anecdotal approach on my recent interest in the sitcom The Good Place. (See Intro Types for resources on introductions)

Thesis: I think people who might not watch sitcoms would really enjoy the episode “The Trolley Problem” from the series The Good Place because it is a sophisticated comedy that makes the afterlife look like life.

Body paragraphs in outline form (topic sentences in yellow–see how each relates to the main points in the thesis in blue and purple above):

One reason I think non-sitcom fans might like this episode of The Good Place is the show’s high concept rather than the common low-brow humor found in many situation comedies. 

  • When the characters are transported to the afterlife, they live in homes and in a community that looks like some suburban neighborhoods, but the stories are complex and the community is a facade.

The use of complex topics, like The Trolley Problem thought experiment, could help non-sitcom fans connect to the show because the characters are funny, relatable people, but in a situation that is out of their control and offers interesting takes on ethics and philosophy. 

Conclude the paragraph. Transition into next idea.

In addition to high-concept comedy writing, I think“The Trolley Problem” illustrates life in the afterlife.

Many people think that life ends after death, but in The Good Place, the characters continue living and are shown in relationships and working through problems.This makes the afterlife less frightening. 

Because this is a comedy, this effect works by creating relatable scenarios from real life in the afterlife. For a philosophy professor, this includes a real “trolley” problem. For the other characters, this includes relationship problems and therapy. 

  • Conclude the paragraph. Transition into next idea.
  • Another reason this series is attractive in my opinion is ultimately the format. The sitcom allows for new viewers to understand the show by only watching one episode, and that is a draw for folks who would watch a 30-minute comedy in general. But for those who might not like old school, episodic sitcoms, The Good Place does have overarching themes that hold the individual episodes together. There are only four seasons, so there is not a huge time commitment. 
  • Conclude the paragraph. Transition into next idea.
  • If someone might not like the idea of a sitcom because of silly laugh tracks or predictable storylines, I want to point out that The Good Place has neither and is a thoughtful show.
  • “The Trolley Problem” takes a classic thought experiment and makes it a real form of tortue to the teacher character. And the joke is that he probably stressed his own students out with the thought experiment, so now in death, he has to confront that situation. 

Conclude the paragraph. Transition into conclusion.

(The number of paragraphs depends on the scope of the essay; four paragraphs are not enough to meet the requirements for this paper. This is an example not a template.)


(help readers out of conversation; leave readers with ideas to think about)

Note: A Paragraph General Outline

Topic sentence that relates to an element in the thesis

Summary of a scene that relates to the TS

Concluding statement on the topic

Transition, new paragraph

Meets the following Course Outcomes:

VI. Course Learning Outcomes:

Critical Reading and Thinking

Create connections among texts discussed and other texts.

Analyze a writer’s stylistic choices, such as the perspective or tone adopted for a particular audience and purpose.

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