10 bingeable TV shows featuring Madison alumni
If you have Hulu, Amazon Prime, HBO or Netflix, watch to find a Badger in the closing credits.
After a long day of Zoom meetings and trying out new “Bon Appétit” recipes, curl up on the couch for some of the most binge-worthy televisions series featuring University of Wisconsin–Madison alumni. While UW–Madison is not regarded as a capitol for film, its roster of successful actors, directors and producers show that talent is not confined to the coasts. If you have Hulu, Amazon Prime, HBO or Netflix, watch to find a Badger in the closing credits.
Anders Holm does not shy away from his Badger roots. He was nominated by students to be the commencement speaker in 2013 and returned to the university to promote his 2018 film “Game Over, Man!” Holm’s claim to fame, however, is the raunchy, Comedy Central cult-classic “Workaholics.” The DIY-style comedy centers around three telemarketers living together in Los Angeles who are trapped in their adolescent ways. Holm, who loosely plays himself, even pays homage to his days as a swimmer at UW–Madison in multiple episodes.
Streaming: Amazon Prime
Soloway is a “Jill of all trades” who got their foundation studying communication arts. A women’s studies class at the university inspired a critical examination of gender roles for Soloway, which lies at the heart of their highly acclaimed series “Transparent.” The series is centered around a family who find out their father is a transgender woman. Soloway was the writer, executive producer and director for the two-time Golden Globe-winning show.
Show: Shameless/A Series of Unfortunate Events
Joan Cusack graduated UW–Madison in 1985 with a bachelor’s in English. She developed her skills at the esteemed ARK Improvisational Theater, where fellow alum Chris Farley also honed his talent. While Cusack has no doubt left her mark in the movie industry, she has become a household name on shows like “Shameless” and “A Series of Unfortunate Events.” Her role as the eccentric Shelia Gallagher on “Shameless” earned her five Emmy Award nominations for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series.
Show: Malcolm in the Middle
The iconic sitcom “Malcolm in the Middle” would be nothing without Jane Kaczmarek. Her role as the hot-tempered, devoted mother, Lois Wilkerson, cemented her television lore with 148 episodes under her belt. While it is almost impossible to teach that kind of talent and work ethic, she graduated from UW–Madison in 1979 with a degree in theater.
Show: The Plot Against America
Charles Lindbergh had a brief stint at UW–Madison studying engineering before he left to start flying school, which would make him one of the most renowned names in the country. While Lindbergh himself never made his way to the big screen, his persona is central to the new critically acclaimed HBO mini-series, “The Plot Against America.” In an alternate history, Lindbergh wins the presidency and implements his Fascist vision on the country.
Show: Modern Family
Steven Levitan had an inspirational tale behind his rise to producer stardom. After he graduated from UW–Madison in 1984, it took him over two decades and nine failed show ideas before he crafted “Modern Family.” His 2017 commencement speech touched on not letting your dreams pass you by and working through defeat. “Modern Family” is still a cult-classic that can be streamed in its entirety on Hulu.
Show: Miami Vice
Michael Mann has run the gamut of television series and films across his storied career. After he graduated with a degree in English, he established himself as one of the key names in crime dramas, from “Thief” to “Manhunter.” He was an executive producer on the popular TV series “Miami Vice,” which aired from 1984-1990.
Daniel J. Travanti
Show: Hill Street Blues
Daniel J. Travanti began his illustrious acting career at UW-Madison. He acted in a number of plays at the Union Theater, but his true calling came in television acting. His role as Capt. Frank Furillo in “Hill Street Blues” made him one of the more recognizable names in entertainment.
Show: Once Upon a Time
Adam Horowitz had an innate knack for storytelling. As an active member of the Daily Cardinal, Horowitz pumped out articles like a machine with an eye for creative narratives. He met his writing partner, Edward Kitsis, at UW–Madison where they eventually formed one of the most dynamic relationships in television. The cult-classic “LOST” and fantasy drama “Once Upon a Time” are two of their most acclaimed creations.
Show: Gilmore Girls
Tricia O’Kelley has played iconic recurring characters in shows from “The Secret Life of the American Teenager” (on Hulu) to “Malcolm in the Middle.” She graduated from UW-Madison with a degree in TV and Film Production. Her portrayal of Nicole Leahy in “Gilmore Girls” is one of her most memorable roles.