A few weeks ago, I was out to lunch with a friend who was upset that there is so much crap on the television that she feels it's not worth watching. I've heard this same sentiment expressed by many people (friends, coworkers, family, the media, people standing in line at Starbucks...).
I watch a lot of television, probably averaging 1-2 hours a day. I make the most of it by watching my shows while I'm putting make-up on in the morning or doing the weekly ironing. It's amazing how much television that you can manage to squeeze in while doing daily chores.
When I think about some of my favorite shows, I feel like the quality of television has gone up in the last 5-10 years. There are so many great shows currently airing...Breaking Bad, Mad Men, Dexter, Sons of Anarchy, American Horror Story, Modern Family, pretty much everything on HBO, et... it's a lot of keep up with and it's quality.
Sure there's a lot of crap too, however, I think that my friend's statement points to a frustration of too much of everything. It's overwhelming.
Let me step away from television to make this point on a different issue, grocery stores. In America, we have grocery stores filled with so many choices that it's just crazy. My aunt's local Ralphs has an entire aisle dedicated to chips. An entire aisle.
We are so accustom to having it all that we get frustrated when our favorites disappear. My aunt has grown very fond of loaves of sandwich bread. For those not in the know, sandwich bread is basically just bread, but in thinner/smaller slices. It turns out "Sandwich Bread" has lost its popularity and is no longer offered in any of the many grocery stores within a few miles of my aunt's house.
At first, she simply wouldn't accept going back to normal bread. We had to drive around to several stores hunting down the stupid sandwich bread. It was fruitless and after a few months, she has gradually become more accepting.
It's this amazing plethora of choices that seems like an advantage at first glance, but I think it drives us all a bit nuts. If we can't have that one speciality item, we are unable to switch gears to pick another choice.
We have forgotten how to eliminate all of this unnecessary information and clutter from our minds and focus on things that we really like, want and ultimately, need. Clearly, Sandwich Bread and television are not needs!
Back to Television...prior to moving in with Dan, I had Directv with a DVR and tons of options. I loved it. Dan doesn't watch as much TV as I do and it was expensive, so we canceled it. I thought that I would die.
It's been a year now and I really don't miss it. I still watch all of my shows. I subscribe to Hulu and Netflix and I buy a lot from Amazon and Itunes. I'm happy to pay for exactly what I want to watch. I may have to seek out what I want, but I have eliminated the access to tons of stuff that I wouldn't watch. Clutter gone.
I know a lot of people that are doing the same thing. It's a technology shift in the way we access our entertainment. I don't mind the advertising, I know that it's part of the deal. I also don't mind casting my voice towards what I want by paying per episode or series.
I think this shift has upped the general quality in what is being produced. Instead of the Nielsen Ratings as the primary marker, networks can see what people are willing to pay for and what shows are trending in social media sites. The consumer has a bigger say than in the past.
I love, love, love Netflix's new experiment with House of Cards and Hemlock Grove, by putting the entire season up at the same time. I just read an article in Entertainment Weekly that talks about the joys of binge watching television. Television shows are like reading chapters in a book and there really is nothing more satisfying than having a marathon with a great book or series.
Speaking of binge watching, my enjoyment of a television show owes a lot to its pacing. A majority of my favorite shows have continuing story lines and having the ability to watching them without a week or weeks break in between, keeps the momentum going. Short of other responsibilities or mental exhaustion, I don't put a great book down part way through, I keep on reading. Pacing, arcs and momentum are key.
I love the shift that has happened in recent years that has led us away from a fall TV season with a big hiatus. There is now great shows premiering in all seasons. I appreciate having a fall finale with a part two in the spring, rather than showing a couple of episodes with a few weeks off. There is more continuity with the way shows are currently being shown. I feel like in part it's showing a greater respect towards quality television. Many show runners are now as popular as their stars.
Great writing is being shown a great deal of respect.
I love this shift.