The Death of Television

30 Jul

In a follow up to Alex’s post yesterday, I just wanted to make a few comments. For some reason, I too was watching that God-awful show the other night. I can’t explain it, but I was completely memorized by the action, and on some level was living vicariously through those meat heads. It was strange, because although I completely recognized that me watching this crap was a waste of time, I simply couldn’t stop. I have a strange feeling that a lot of other people have this same problem. It’s Pringles syndrome. One you start….


I did a quick search to see how well reality TV shows are doing these days. According to Nielsen, out of the top 20 shows this season, 8 of them are reality TV shows. The top 4 are all American Idol. How many people are watching this crap? Try 26 million a night. The only sitcoms on the list are Desperate Housewives and Two and Half Men. The rest are cop/doctor shows (except no House).


So what does this tell us? We’re going to see this crap for a long time to come. As long as people are watching, TV networks are going to make more of the same. This means, we’re going to have Survivor: Darfour, and CSI: Winnipeg, starring some good but forgotten movie actor. It seems like television is the only market you can completely saturate, and the masses keep asking for more. The more gluttonous we become, the worse it gets.


I honestly blame TLC for this. Once upon a time, TLC stood for The Learning Channel. Now it’s (i’m guessing) The Life Channel. That’s a pretty broad scope of television shows. It all started with the now non-existent Trading Spaces. At first it was on once a week, then every day, then there were spin offs- and now you’ve got shows like Trading Wives. Ask me 15 years ago if I’d ever imagine they’d make a show about two families switching spouses for a week, and I’d say it would be a hit- if it were on the Playboy channel.


A&E’s done the same thing, except I think they’re acronym hasn’t changed. A&E, just one question: I know Jon & Kate may be considered entertaining, but what the fuck does it have to do with art? And don’t even get me started on the Philly parking ticket show. Seriously? A fucking show about parking enforcers? How pathetic are we? Next thing you know, there will be a reality show about janitors.


You could argue that it’s a lot cheaper to produce reality TV shows, but the fact is, there’s just no good original ideas being produced. Look at the top shows: American Idol, The Office, Trading Spaces, Hell’s Kitchen- all originally done in Britain. The American television industry is so creatively bankrupt, they can’t even come up with their own shows. The ones they do come up with, they rip off a hundred times. We’re in the era of television franchises people.

I think I’m just going to stick to streaming episodes of Mad Men and get rid of my cable.

8 Responses to “The Death of Television”

  1. Shayla July 30, 2009 at 9:31 AM #

    And this is why I got rid of cable and now save $50 a month. Downloading TV for the win.

  2. Adam July 30, 2009 at 11:23 AM #

    Young Guns is such a wicked movie!!

  3. Brent Chittenden July 30, 2009 at 11:27 AM #

    I guess if you’re talking regular cable but there have been a ton of good shows in the last few years.

    The Shield
    The Wire
    Rescue Me
    Harvey Birdman
    Doll House
    Penn and Teller’s Bullshit
    Robot Chicken

    Now yes two of which (The Shield and The Wire) are cop shows but neither would ever been confused with a CSI (Never seen Grisham beat a suspect with a phone book). Dexter and Harvey Birdman are both based on existing properties but Doll House and Bullshit are more or less original and both extremely good. And while everyone probably snickered at Robot Chicken being on the list, it is incredibly well written comedy.

    The point being is television is like music or film. Yes there is a lot of crap but saying it’s all crap is not completely true.

    For ever CSI (and anyone notice how all those shows have the magical power of taking a terrific actor and making them have all the acting skills of 2×4?) there’s a Shield or a Wire. Much like how for every crap pop punk rap phenom we get someone that is great like EL-P or the Danger Mouse and Sparklehorse presents album. For ever Epic Movie or 2012 we get a Wrestler or Let the Right One In.

  4. jimfairthorne July 30, 2009 at 12:30 PM #

    The point I’m trying to make is that out of the top 20 shows of last season, only 2 were original.

    That’s a good list of shows. I’ve seen a few of them. Need to watch more quality. There’s also:

    Prison Break
    Battlestar Galactica
    Breaking Bad
    South Park
    Survivorman (although it is a reality show, it’s a real…ish)

    I’ve heard 2 & 1/2 Men is a good show, but I still haven’t gotten around to watching it. Apparently Charlie Sheen plays himself, and is pretty much what Alex is going to be like 15 years from now.

  5. Brent Chittenden July 30, 2009 at 3:33 PM #

    lol You think Alex will be alive in 15 years?

    I say he’s dead or in a vegitative state.

  6. Ana Rose October 21, 2009 at 9:42 PM #

    Green Day; 21st Century Break Down (song)

    “We are the class of, the class of ’13. Born in the era of humility. We are the desperate in the decline. Raised by the bastards of 1969.”

    Now, if teens are considering themsleves “the desperate in the decline” and “born in the era of humility”, I think we’ve done something wrong here…

    and i would say a fair amount (as in almost all) kids and teens watch TV…

    Ok, to be frank, TV is poisoning the minds of children. And NOW it’s starting to make sense…


  1. TLC: The Lowest Common Denominator Channel « State of Affairs - October 7, 2009

    […] beginning of this diatribe, I don’t watch an awful lot of television (though Jim and I have both written on the subject before), and the few channels I do watch are still dedicated to providing me quality […]

  2. Hockey » Blog Archive » TLC: The Lowest Common Denominator Channel « State of Affairs - October 7, 2009

    […] the beginning of this diatribe, I don’t watch an awful lot of television (though Jim and I have both written on the subject before), and the few channels I do watch are still dedicated to providing me quality […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: