Prepare yourselves. I'm about to go Baby Boomer on you.
I miss the good old days.
I do. I miss the good old days when May TV finales meant the end of something, when summertime was a vast wasteland of reruns and baseball. I miss the feeling of the fall premiere season, when putting on a jacket for the first time in months coincided with the first episodes of new TV. I miss having time to catch up on old stuff because there was no new stuff to watch.
Obviously, there are good things about TV right now. Let's get that out of the way right away. It's a blessing to be able to DVR everything and fast forward through commercials while watching the show whenever you have time. It's lovely not to have to put your "real" life on hold because you have to be home in time to catch the new episode of your favorite show and you forgot to rewind the tape in your VCR. It's wonderful to have so many choices, and so many good choices. With streaming and OnDemand and DVRs and (what?) live TV, there is LITERALLY always something on.
There is ALWAYS something on.
And it's too much. There are too many choices, too many ways to watch, too much freedom, too much saturation.
And it never. fucking. ends.
Back in "the day" before DVRs became commonplace (which really wasn't all that long ago), there was a rise and fall to the TV year, peaking in September and May. After Labor Day, we were ready for new TV, chomping at the bit for it. And the spring, just as we were starting to grow weary of all our shows, they gave us big season finales to kick off the summer months.
Now we're on a never-ending cycle of television. Game of Thrones, Veep, and Silicon Valley end? HBO follows them up immediately -- the next week! -- with True Detective, The Brink, and Ballers. Netflix is constantly churning out new shows. Channels not known for their series programming (Lifetime) are starting to get into the game. And none of this takes into consideration all the shows I've missed out on over the last few years because I didn't have time to watch them. In the past, I would've used the summer to catch up on The Americans or Hannibal or whatever, but now? NO TIME. And what's the point? Orange is the New Black is back. And are you watching UnREAL? And once all those shows are done, Fargo will be right around the corner. And then The Walking Dead, and then, and then, and then.
In the old days, the networks would use summertime reruns to acquaint us with shows we might have missed. This is how I found Scrubs, actually. I was at home cleaning on a Friday night (the show Ballers is about my life) and I tuned into a Scrubs marathon. I was hooked after two episodes. Nowadays? Ha. Like I'd ever watch live TV. And NBC to boot!
The other issue right now is that I have no patience for mediocre shows. If something doesn't grab me right away, I tune out. There are too many options and too little time. TV has become like the weather in New England. If you don't like the show you're watching now, wait five minutes and Netflix or Hulu or Amazon or your next door neighbor will release a new one.
I think I'm really starting to notice this now because...ugh...TV's not the best right now. There's been a lot of talk about how we're in a "Golden Age" of television, but I think that Golden Age has come and gone. Now that Mad Men and Breaking Bad are done, what remains to take their place? All the "good" shows (and I'm mostly talking about dramas here; there are still quite a few really great comedies) are "good," but not pantheon of TV good.
Even the water cooler shows, which are few and far between, are notable only for their popularity, not for their quality. Empire is a ton of fun. I love chatting about it with people and getting "Drip-Drop" stuck in my head (there it goes again), but would I put that show up there with The Sopranos, The Wire, or The West Wing? Never. I don't think I'd mention any show currently on television in the same breath as those shows, except to say, "[BLANK] is not as good as The Wire."
So, what's the point? I don't know what the point is. I'm just cranky. I miss the Thursday nights of old where we'd order in a pizza and sit on our couch for two hours straight while watching NBC. I miss the shared language of popular television. I miss being able to go to a party and have, at least, TV to talk about, because we were all watching Seinfeld or American Idol or Lost.
Now it's: "Do you have Netflix?"
"Cool. Have you seen House of Cards?"
"I'm not caught up yet. Do you like the PBS shows? Are you watching Call the Midwife?"
"Stop asking me that, Mom. You know I'm not. What about Penny Dreadful?"
"I don't have Showtime."
"No Amazon Prime."
"Hmmm...What about The Big Bang Theory?"
"Yes! I watch that! We can talk about that!"
This is what you've wrought, too much TV. The only conversations you've left us center around CBS sitcoms, you monster.
Enjoy this post? Click like on the Hammervision Facebook page and join the party.
Type your email address in the box and click the "create subscription" button. My list is completely spam free, and you can opt out at any time.