This might be a new golden age for TV

posted by Jeff | Sunday, October 20, 2019, 9:26 AM | comments: 0

Over the years, and especially since having a child, I've watched way less TV than I used to. That's partly surprising because a decade ago, one had to deliberately set their DVR to record stuff, if they had a DVR at all, so the convenience of watching stuff wasn't where it is today. In more recent years, I've tried to keep up with one or two network shows, but I don't watch any of them at all right now. I bought a FireTV Recast to DVR over-the-air stuff now, but the only thing I really watch with it is the nightly world news.

However, I've found that I am watching a number of things without strong intention, or looking for the shows, because they get critical praise and they come in shorter seasons. There are a ton of series like this in the last few years. On Amazon, it's been The Marvelous Mrs. MaiselCatastropheFleabagThe RomanoffsJack Ryan, not to mention a ton of really good original movies. Hulu made Veronica Mars the show it was always meant to be, and some people apparently can stomach Handmaid's Tale. Netflix has a number of winners, in particular great kids shows like VoltronThe Magic Schoolbus and Captain Underpants.

I would venture to say that most of these shows wouldn't exist were it not for the streaming services. Even with a billion cable channels, there isn't room to be experimental or interesting with the prospect of low viewership. The shows aren't infinitely cheaper to make, certainly, but even the cost dynamic to promote them is different when you're not using your own broadcast airtime to sell them. It's a different world. There's a certain democratization of TV that has occurred, and the "good" stuff has risen from the streaming services. I feel like there are more good shows than ever.

My suspicion is that this won't last, but I'll try to be optimistic anyway. The World Wide Web was a great equalizer at first for straight up "print" content, but in the last 20 years, we've seen the Internet fill with total shit, and people content to consume it. With a lower barrier to entry (I mean, you're reading this blog, right?), putting crap "on the air" is relatively cheap and easy. Look at all of the nonsense that people repost on social media. There's no critical thinking anymore.

For now though, I'm excited to see some of these new shows coming out. There isn't a single show I've watched the last few years on network TV, except maybe Younger, but I'm not sure if that counts being on TV Land (it's so good, by the way).


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