Goodbye, Jersey Shore: TV Goes Highbrow

We're living in the golden age of television.

I became an obsessive TV watcher around the time my parents sent me to boarding school. I thought Friends was the end-all-be-all of television until someone left tapes of My So-Called Life in the common room’s VCR. I paid as much attention to the dialogue and plot as I did Rayanne’s wardrobe, which means a lot. The writers had accurately captured the heightened sense of emotion and angst that comes with being that age. And I couldn’t get enough of it. When the show wasn’t renewed for a second season, I experienced my first of many devastating TV disappointments. (RIP Lone Star. RIP Terriers.)

But, years later, the tide seems to be turning in my favor. It seems that as movies have gotten dumber and flashier (EXPLOSIONS! COMIC BOOK HEROES! FANTASY!), television has gone the opposite direction. The quality of the writing and production has gotten noticeably better. The cost of making good TV shows is going down, thanks in part to digital distribution and production. Now more than ever, it's worth it to take a risk on a TV audience.

Cable and premium channels—and the internet—have become venues for big-name, high-production-value, character-driven programming. Shows like the The Wire, Mad Men, Breaking Bad, The Sopranos, and even Community are conditioning us to become a more patient and intelligent audience. TV is taking more risks and achieving better results.

Netflix’s bold $100 million deal to license 26 hours of original content before it’s even produced has turned quite a few heads in Hollywood. The show in question? House of Cards, a remake of the 1990 BBC miniseries of the same name that explored the "ruthless underside of British politics." The new version will be set against a backdrop of modern-day U.S. electoral politics, with Kevin Spacey starring as the "ambitious politician."

This is a risky approach for Netflix since the show doesn’t yet have a built-in audience despite the involvement of both Kevin Spacey and Executive Producer David Fincher. Why the confidence, then?

Because we are living in the golden age of television!

Photo (cc) via Flickr user videocrab.

Screenshot via (left) Wikimedia Commons (right)

Greta Thunberg has been dubbed the "Joan of Arc of climate change" for good reason. The 16-year-old activist embodies the courage and conviction of the unlikely underdog heroine, as well as the seemingly innate ability to lead a movement.

Thunberg has dedicated her young life to waking up the world to the climate crisis we face and cutting the crap that gets in the way of fixing it. Her speeches are a unique blend of calm rationality and no-holds-barred bluntness. She speaks truth to power, dispassionately and unflinchingly, and it is glorious.

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet
Ottawa Humane Society / Flickr

The Trump Administration won't be remembered for being kind to animals.

In 2018, it launched a new effort to reinstate cruel hunting practices in Alaska that had been outlawed under Obama. Hunters will be able to shoot hibernating bear cubs, murder wolf and coyote cubs while in their dens, and use dogs to hunt black bears.

Efforts to end animal cruelty by the USDA have been curtailed as well. In 2016, under the Obama Administration, the USDA issued 4,944 animal welfare citations, in two years the numbers dropped to just 1,716.

Keep Reading Show less

The disappearance of 40-year-old mortgage broker William Earl Moldt remained a mystery for 22 years because the technology used to find him hadn't been developed yet.

Moldt was reported missing on November 8, 1997. He had left a nightclub around 11 p.m. where he had been drinking. He wasn't known as a heavy drinker and witnesses at the bar said he didn't seem intoxicated when he left.

Keep Reading Show less
via Real Time with Bill Maher / YouTube and The Late Late Show with James Corden / YouTube

A controversial editorial on America's obesity epidemic and healthcare by comedian Bill Maher on his HBO show "Real Time" inspired a thoughtful, and funny, response by James Cordon. It also made for a great debate about healthcare that Americans are avoiding.

At the end of the September 6th episode of "Real Time, " Maher turned to the camera for his usual editorial and discussed how obesity is a huge part of the healthcare debate that no one is having.

"At Next Thursday's debate, one of the candidates has to say, 'The problem with our healthcare system is Americans eat shit and too much of it.' All the candidates will mention their health plans but no one will bring up the key factor: the citizens don't lift a finger to help," Maher said sternly.

Keep Reading Show less
via Gage Skidmore

The common stereotypes about liberals and conservatives are that liberals are bleeding hearts and conservatives are cold-hearted.

It makes sense, conservatives want limited government and to cut social programs that help the more vulnerable members of society. Whereas liberals don't mind paying a few more dollars in taxes to help the unfortunate.

A recent study out of Belgium scientifically supports the notion that people who scored lower on emotional ability tests tend to have right-wing and racist views.

Keep Reading Show less