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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.

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The problem with American Sign Language (ASL) is that over 500,000 people in the U.S. use it, but the country has over 330 million people.

So for those with hearing loss, the chances of coming into contact with someone who uses the language are rare. Especially outside of the deaf community.

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Looking back, the year 1995 seems like such an innocent time. America was in the midst of its longest streak of peace and prosperity. September 11, 2001 was six years away, and the internet didn't seem like much more than a passing fad.

Twenty-four years ago, 18 million U.S. homes had modem-equipped computers, 7 million more than the year before. Most logged in through America Online where they got their email or communicated with random strangers in chat rooms.

According to a Pew Research study that year, only 32% of those who go online say they would miss it "a lot" if no longer available.

Imagine what those poll numbers would look like if the question was asked today.

RELATED: Bill and Melinda Gates had a surprising answer when asked about a 70 percent tax on the wealthiest Americans

"Few see online activities as essential to them, and no single online feature, with the exception of E-Mail, is used with any regularity," the Pew article said. "Consumers have yet to begin purchasing goods and services online, and there is little indication that online news features are changing traditional news consumption patterns."

"Late Night" host David Letterman had Microsoft founder and, at that time the richest man in the world, on his show for an interview in '95 to discuss the "the big new thing."

During the interview Letterman chided Gates about the usefulness of the new technology, comparing it to radio and tape recorders.

Gates seems excited by the internet because it will soon allow people to listen to a baseball game on their computer. To which Letterman smugly replies, "Does radio ring a bell?" to laughter from the crowd.

But Gates presses Letterman saying that the new technology allows you to listen to the game "whenever you want," to which Letterman responds, "Do tape recorders ring a bell?"

Gates then tells Letterman he can keep up with the latest in his favorite hobbies such as cigar smoking or race cars through the internet. Letterman shuts him down saying that he reads about his interests in magazines.

RELATED: Bill Gates has five books he thinks you should read this summer.

The discussion ends with the two laughing over meeting like-minded people in "troubled loner chat room on the internet."

The clip brings to mind a 1994 segment on "The Today Show" where host Bryant Gumbel and Katie Couric have a similar discussion.

"What is internet anyway?" an exasperated Gumball asks. "What do you write to it like mail?"

"It's a computer billboard but it's nationwide and it's several universities all joined together and it's getting bigger and bigger all the time," a producer explains from off-stage.





Culture
Photo by Li-An Lim on Unsplash

The future generations will have to live on this Earth for years to come, and, not surprisingly, they're very concerned about the fate of our planet. We've seen a rise in youth activists, such as Greta Thunberg, who are raising awareness for climate change. A recent survey indicates that those efforts are working, as more and more Americans (especially young Americans) feel concerned about climate change.

A new CBS News poll found that 70% of Americans between 18 and 29 feel climate change is a crisis or a serious problem, while 58% of Americans over the age of 65 share those beliefs. Additionally, younger generations are more likely to feel like it's their personal responsibility to address climate change, as well as think that transitioning to 100% renewable energy is viable. Overall, 25% of Americans feel that climate change is a "crisis," and 35% feel it is a "serious problem." 10% of Americans said they think climate change is a minor problem, and 16% of Americans feel it is not a problem that worries them.

The poll found that concern for the environment isn't a partisan issue – or at least when it comes to younger generations. Two-thirds of Republicans under the age of 45 feel that addressing climate change is their duty, sentiments shared by only 38% of Republicans over the age of 45.

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