Are we in the golden age of television?
Have you noticed in recent years that there is an overwhelming amount of good television on air? From cable to streaming services, producers have figured out the secret to good TV. This has resulted in a landslide of “Must See TV.”
In the past each decade has had a defining show. Shows like “MASH,” “I Love Lucy,” “The Twilight Zone” and others have been remembered and recognized long after their series last aired. Those shows took chances, they were iconic for their writing, advanced political views or cinematography. The other shows from the eras they were made in can’t hold a candle to them and were forgotten with time.
What will happen now that we seem to have the formula to making good television? Writers and producers know how to craft a story that is unique and draws in a diverse audience. “Mad Men,” “Breaking Bad” and “Orange is the New Black” may come to mind. There are so many modern shows that you need to watch to add commentary in society.
I can’t tell you how many times a friend has asked me “Wait, you haven’t watched _____ yet?” I always say that I will after I get through “Stranger Things,” “Fargo,” or whatever cinematographic masterpiece has come out that month.
The production of television has gone above and beyond your grandparents’ single-camera, one sound stage operations. With proper producing, a television show can now have the same technology a big-budget film has. Would the appeal of “Game of Thrones” or “Narcos” be as strong without the production value? Probably not.
The technology is not the only factor making modern television must-see. There is a formula for making the characters and plot resonate with the audience. Sometimes the characters remind the audience of people they know or even themselves. Even if the character is completely unique to the audience, seeing the humanity (or lack thereof) is important. A common theme of modern TV is just making the people and plots believable, even if it’s in an alternate universe.
Will we continue to be as blown away by television in years to come? Each generation thinks it has struck television gold, it is unfathomable that television could get better than this! But it does. It may be that this decade really is the golden era of television, or possibly we are now going to be stuck seeing great show after great show until all ideas have been drained.