I’m surprised, even skeptical.
Our poll question over the weekend asked our website visitors if they think TV today is better or worse than 10 years ago. Fully 81 per cent chose ‘worse’.
Not only do I not think TV’s worse, I don’t think 80 per cent of you really believe that either. I’m chocking it up to knee-jerk negativity towards an entertainment form that’s often the brunt of insults.
Here’s what Americans (and many of us) were watching in 2002:
Friends, CSI, ER, Everybody Loves Raymond, Law and Order, Survivor, NFL and West Wing.
Here’s what we were watching in 2011:
American Idol, NFL, Dancing With the Stars, NCIS
Hmm. This would seem to punch a hole in my thesis. While I’ll grant that watching the tryouts for American Idol – the first couple weeks – is outrageously entertaining (if you’re a cruel, heartless person who loves seeing people makes fools of themselves), Dancing with the Stars is terrible (science proved it) and NCIS, well, I’ve never watched it, but I know it’s bad.
The thing is, though, I don’t think these primetime ratings provide the full picture. The past decade has seen HBO grow in popularity which, in turn, has allowed the big broadcasters to get a bit edgier.
Here are just a few of the shows that have come into existence over the past 10 years:
30 Rock, Dexter, Parks and Rec, Colbert Report, Modern Family, Eastbound and Down, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Family Guy, Mr. D, Veep, The Office, Life’s Too Short, Episodes
Only one of those isn’t a comedy, but there are also a zillion reality shows that I think we all know we watch even if we won’t admit it, from Swamp People to Masterchef. Then there are the boutique ones, like House Hunters and Market Warriors.
Numerous dramas are getting big nods, too, from True Blood to Breaking Bad, Walking Dead to Game of Thrones.
To top it off, good TV doesn’t disappear, it just goes into syndication. You still get to watch Seinfeld, but now you get the new programs, too.
An aside: Have you watched an episode of Friends lately? Don’t get me wrong: I enjoyed it a lot at the time, and a group of friends used to gather to watch Friends. But comedy doesn’t age well. Seinfeld isn’t as funny as Curb Your Enthusiasm, and Friends isn’t as funny as Parks and Rec.
Television hasn’t gotten worse, it’s gotten better. Now leave a comment and tell me why I’m wrong.