Good afternoon class, today’s theme is one of great importance.
I don’t own a TV, I should point that out now, the whole hassle of getting cable etc just seems like a giant pain in the *ss. What I do have is a pretty fast wireless connection, which I use to watch anything good. Which differs greatly from what other people think is good. Or at least what is on offer on regular TV.
Last year my Christmas vacation was pretty long, and I realized how much I hate TV. Sure the movie channels were playing some Hitchcock films and there were re-runs of shows from 1967-1997. But it became visibly clear that I just don’t mesh with contemporary shows that often.
Point in fact, Beauty and the Geek; What The HELL? Who wants to watch that cr*p. Furthermore, what half-*ssed lazy producer allowed that to air? A Seacrest knockoff, presiding over what is essentially an extra long afterschool special on how we are more than the sum of our parts…. Hello???!!! I just accomplished that in three lines of text, and they need 5 seasons???? This is lurching into a far larger hatred of reality TV. I know that. The issue is; how, when so many different versions of the same thing exist, do people keep airing this trite, boring, infuriating sh*t?
Let’s explore s’more! X-Factor, America’s Got Talent, Dancing on Ice, The Hills, The Biggest Loser, Extreme Makeover, Iron Chef, Say Yes to the Dress, and all variations on the same freaking themes! WE GET IT!!! They will never sing, dance, dress, cook, or be as awesome as Hollywood portrays the ‘Regulars’ to be in the movies and any attempt at it will be documented for future generations to see how hard they failed at all of those things. My point is, stop making that stuff. I don’t care that Lou-Ann is from Missouri, grossly overweight, a crack addict, married to her half brother, with 4 kids by 3 fathers, but can sing like a goddamn angel. I don’t give a hoot. I really don’t. And neither should you! There are so many things we can change about our situation on our own, if you need TV to do it there are probably greater issues at stake.
As far as I’m concerned if Lou-Ann had any real talent someone would already be exploiting her in a music studio as she is obviously not capable of making any serious decisions without guidance. I don’t need to watch 25 episodes to know she’s going to go back on crack. I don’t need to see her abuse her children while a team of 12 film-makers watch because it sells. I would also like to say talent is acquired, no one is born with the ability to do backflips, cook well, or sing pitch perfect- they are ACQUIRED skills.
As you can tell, I’m sick of reality-TV and everything that goes with it. It highlights the armpit of society, lulls regular people into believing they are better than they are, because they don’t get drunk and vomit on each other like on Jersey Shore. Regulars, you are regular. You are not as bad as Snooki, but that doesn’t make you mother Teresa by default!
Furthermore, let’s add another problem here. Reality TV is lazy TV. No one could be bothered to make a decent script or flesh out characters. Somewhere a producer picks 5 people he/she knows are incompatible and locks them in a room with alchohol/team building exercise/ fashion accessories and decides to let nature take its course.. If I wanted to watch dumb people fight I would hang out in the local dive bar.
As bad as the social Darwinism that Reality-TV provides us with the other side of the spectrum is in need of improvement and revolution too.
Let’s move on to the teeney-bopper-drama-rama-fest. This one just takes the anti-reality stance too far. Only marginally better than reality TV, the teenage realm of “OH EM GEE GUYS, you’ll never guess who I saw kissing in the bushes!!! Yeah it was Dawn and Shannon’s ex- who dated, Camille, but ditched her for Cleo, Who is sleeping with Garrett, who is also going out with Leia, Who is seeing Brad behind Pete’s back!”. Who? What? Why?
The guilty parties here are One Tree Hill, Gossip Girl, 90210, The Secret Life of the American Teenager, Pretty Little Liars, the Vampire Diaries, and every other piece of contrived brain-dead writing in which 30-something year olds play 16 year olds.
First major problem, ALL YOUR STORIES ARE THE FREAKING SAME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Secondly, the body image you are pushing on already self-conscious teens is really sh*tty of you. I’m not just talking about all the high-school girls wearing more makeup than your average hooker and having to be on the anorexic side of Twiggy. You are also managing to propagate the illusion that all males must be sporty or lose any credibility as a male specimen. It’s pretty douche-ey. Especially considering that they only manage to do all the things asked of them ( i.e. look pretty, wear expensive clothes, do cool stunts) after several hours of hair and makeup, meeting their nutritionists, and working with their stunt coordinator in a gym for 7 hours a day. Thirdly, you make HS appear to be the be-all and end-all of all life on earth. Stop it! High-school is important only in so far as it leads you down a path. Don’t make HS the goal when it’s just a means to an end. Oh and stop making all HS look awesome in comparison to everyone else’s. Some of us went to boarding school where nothing fun ever happens. P.S. shoving a HS full of abstinent vampires, werewolves, and witches is not okay- it just screws everything up and taints every genre with your sh*tty prose and jack-wang writing.
Let’s just take some time here to point out it’s not just TV for teens that sucks. The TV geared at women sucks too, how many socially-awkward, desperately-single, middle-aged, weird sex fetishist, unfunny heroines can there be in one world??? Oh, according to TV lots, and lots, and lots of ’em!
So here’s a big ‘eff you’ to Desperate Housewives, Cashmere Mafia, Cougar Town, Lipstick Jungle, Sex and the City, The New Adventures of Old Christine, and all shows with females first name as the title.
I’ll be honest, not all TV is completely rotten. There are still some things that are amazing. I’ll just set myself down on this couch while you guys get your pens, paper and psych 101 books out so you can analyse me.
Mad Men: Slow burning drama, 1950s machismo, and an eye for detail in both story and style. This show has done well for itself. And yet bar Boardwalk Empire and Pan Am (neither of which I have watched beyond the pilots) it is the rare retro-gem. Maybe it’s John Hamm’s likeable rendition of the morally flexible Don Draper. Or Christina Hendricks’ sultry secretary with a secret heart. Maybe it’s that all the women look like Jackie O and all the guys swagger like they’re having drinks with Dean Martin and the Rat Pack. Somehow the whole cast seem to be imbued with style, a debonair chic that has been gone from TV for too long. Before someone tells me I’m backtracking, I’m really not. I do not recant my claim that teen TV is all bubblegum makeup and stripper clothes. I appreciate that the women in Mad Men have shapes, the guys have grey hairs, and lovehandles, lovehandles for all!!! Yes the story can be slow, and whole episodes can go with meetings and conversations that do not advance the plot in any way, yet it is compelling.
Fringe: Fringe is awkward to place. Is it a cop show or a monster show? Gosh I dunno’. What I do know is that my life would be a poorer place without knowing that someone, somewhere created Walter Bishop. He’s like a psychotic Uncle I wish I had. Fringe has the rare ability in a show to never jump the shark in terms of story, because the shark was jumped in the first episode. Fringe is like the X Files of this generation. It’s exiting because the crazy comes in never ending waves. How they keep coming up with new twists is beyond me. As soon as a formula has been set, they change things up, adding different timelines/dimensions. It stays fresh because it doesn’t have a pattern and it free-falls it’s way from episode to episode with the confusion of the main characters being one of the only linking factors. It’s great, watch it.
Supernatural: Truth be told I’m a little disenfranchised with this one. I loved the first three seasons, ghosts, demons, urban legends. The leads playing a broken family. It was a road-trip/monster/ buddy-cop/cowboy/family series with a seriously classic rock soundtrack and snappy one-liners. It was plaid shirt and jeans. It was a cold beer at the end of a long ride. It was watchable, engaging, fun and a little scary, with just enough action to keep you going. Now we have angels, demons, purgatory dwelling creatures, endless emo-angst and only the brief respite from that provided by one offs that seem to revolve mostly around comic-con in-jokes. Now, perhaps it is just the way of things when you make money from something you like, you keep on making it, and the money, until someone forces you to stop. It is now season 7, and I firmly believe that Supernatural could have ended in season 5, and have made far more of a cult following. Instead it limps on a broken ankle with its jaw hanging loose, achieving little and keeping me watching only because I have invested time and energy watching it. When the conclusion comes, I will pretend everything after season 4 didn’t happen.
Walking Dead: Dear God, THANK YOU! Walking Dead satisfies my need to watch zombie apocalypse scenarios and to finally have a team of survivors who are not awkwardly bad at staying alive under normal circumstances and suddenly become action heroes. YAY! Somehow Walking Dead manages to be both graphically thrilling and character driven. Having read the graphic novels all I can really say is I’m glad that the tv show is doing well. For this one I think the rarity of it makes it an interesting watch. Seldom does a horror show make it to tv, and I am glad to say that this one is well made. It also doesn’t shy away from killing off characters for fear of alienating people, it even seems to take a sort of sick pleasure in making the power-dynamic such a deep part of the story. My favourite part, the fact that survival is always the goal, every zombie movie there comes the ‘heroic moment’ when everyone decides to go back for the buddy who is dying, thus killing themselves in the process, all so they can have that one last group hug. This show acknowledges the truth, you want to live, and you’re not going back for Jimmy, even if he is a really nice guy.
Game of Thrones: Everyone loves an epic. Be it Lord Of The Rings, The Iliad and the Odyssey, King Arthur’s legend or any amount of other sword and sandals, or medieval what not, somehow there is a place for it. I don’t mean to overshadow Rome, or Spartacus, or any other number of shows that HBO bombed at making. In fact with the amount of sex in Rome I’m surprised it didn’t just admit is was soft core porn and go for that market. Anyway, Game of Thrones has the interesting characteristics about being about political infighting, and military warfare in healthy doses. I am however a little reticent about the future as I’m told magic will be playing a big ‘ol part in this…. Genre crossing is ok, just so long as it doesn’t get ridiculous. The actors, aside from looking permanently unwashed, all have depth of character which considering how vast the cast is, I’m quite impressed about. Furthermore the sick twists are actually compelling me to watch it, my morbid inner-self is fascinated by the violence of it all, and then by the sudden valour. It’s very hard to keep a handle on characters who are douchebags but also good guys. Or maybe I’m just too simple. Either way I’m anxiously optimistic about this one.
I’d like to make a quick mention of another two shows before I get to my final point. One is the Rubicon, it was good but very slow, and has been cancelled. If you like political dramas I do recommend it. The other is the brand new “Homeland” a new drama from the writers of 24, but it’s actually good. Gone are the days of ridiculous torture scenes, here instead is the psychological trauma of captivity and memory with the amazing Damien Lewis (the only ginger I care about), and the glorious Claire Danes.
Okay, so my final point was and is to encourage everyone to go and find/buy/stream “Community”. NBC have recently put it on hiatus, with it being replaced by 30 Rock (which I also love). My aim through this post is to make you watch it. It truly is a great show. Self-referential to a funny fault, chock full of useless pop culture references, oozing with charm, tripping over its own ridiculous feet. I could go own but a far better article exists on the New Yorker, it says all I want to with less awkward commas.
I urge you, sons and daughters of TV land, let not “Community” fall into darkness. Keep it alive in your hearts- or at least until then end of season 4 when we get to find out who graduates!!!