7 Things: TV Thoughts

As surprising as I know this must be, I’m behind. This post belongs to the week of July 15-21.

It was during the latter part of the week of July 15-21 that the nominees for this year’s Emmy Awards were announced. In honor of that announcement, here are seven random thoughts on TV. Some of them Emmy-related. Most of them not.

Thought 1 – They need separate awards shows for cable and network shows.

I have been saying this for years. The fact is, cable shows have an incredible advantage. They get sex. They get violence. They get “fuck”s by the wagonload. They get all of those things that give us sheer visceral reactions. With sex and violence and, yes, even fucks, we respond automatically. We look away when someone gets decapitated and their blood flies at the screen. Or get nauseous. Or stare with wide-eyed pleasure. (I would say I don’t judge, but if you stare with wide-eyed pleasure as someone’s head gets chopped off, I do judge you enough to never want to be alone with you.) We get turned on, or possibly disturbed (I’m talking to you, Homeland), when people have sex. We feel the enthusiasm behind their verbal fucks. (Because, let’s face it, sometimes a ‘fuck’ is the only punctuation that really applies.)

See, cable shows can do things that network shows can’t, because they don’t have to rely on large audiences and advertisers. They can make violent, sexually-explicit, drugged-out, sailor-mouthed shows that appeal to only a few million people, and that’s cool. And because they are niche and not trying to please the masses, they are better in a lot of ways. I’m not saying they’re not.

I will say, though, that they aren’t so much better that they should be dominating everything. I believe it’s more those visceral reactions of seeing blood fly or naked boobies that make people fall to their knees in praise.

Thought 2 – The answer is not to make network shows more like cable shows.

Great drama fucks with your emotions. If you come away feeling nothing, then the drama was mediocre at best. So, it’s not all that surprising that dramas with violence and sex rush to the top of the pack in critical and commercial acclaim. Since we get those automatic reactions to what they show us, we realize that we have indeed felt something.

Even if it’s bad.

And it’s often bad.

So much so that I sometimes feel as if we honor our own anguish. It’s like a “Life in Hell” strip.

TV Makes You Cry

One can hardly blame these cable networks for going with the visceral responses and pulling in the critical praise. You only have to look at past years’ nominees to see how much sex and, even more so, violence are rewarded. That’s why some people seem to think the answer to networks competing with cable in quality is for networks to push the envelope.

But you know what? I don’t want to watch all cable shows. I want to watch some cable shows designed for garnering award nominations, and then I want to watch some shows that are just fun to watch. The shows that get critical acclaim aren’t usually the shows that make me feel good. Sometimes I prefer the violence off-screen, the sex in my imagination, and I’m just going to say it… sometimes even the fucks aren’t necessary.

Thought 3 -RuPaul makes me happy.

This has nothing to do with the Emmys, because bitch was snubbed. But while we’re on the subject of TV that makes me feel good, I simply have to bring up RuPaul’s Drag Race (and Drag U). Proof that reality TV doesn’t have to suck or be about humiliation.

Thought 4 – I hate  it when the TV industry discovers something “of-the-moment”.

If you watch TV, you might think that every person working in finance is running a Ponzi scheme and that every file on earth is redacted.

Thought 5 – Not every show needs a musical episode.

Some shows have done it and done it well. Few shows lend to this format, though. Could we please stop asking when every fucking show is going to do its musical episode? Cop Rock tanked and was yanked for a reason.

Thought 6 – TV showrunners should never fire their writers. Never.

They do it to save money. Often when they need room in the budgets to hang onto the casts. It shows every time. Pretty actors can’t make up for shit storylines. I’m talking to you, Criminal Minds.

Thought 7 – I am loving the portrayal of foster families on Common Law.

I take issue with the portrayal of foster and adoptive parents in film and television. The frequency with which these types of parents – and the foster and adoptive systems in general – are shown in a good light barely registers on the scale when compared to the frequency with which they have been portrayed negatively.

It bothers me especially in kids’ films, because I feel as if, from a tender age, kids get all this exposure to the “horrible” side of orphanages and adoption, and it sinks in. So if the unthinkable happens and these kids lose both parents, this image in their minds of where they could end up and what could happen to them… I don’t know. It just sits wrong with me.

That’s why I find the portrayal of foster parents and foster siblings so refreshing on Common Law. One of the main characters is from the foster system, and, as an adult, he calls his foster moms “Mom” and the foster kids who were in the same houses with him “Brother.” It’s a loving, positive portrayal of alternative families, and I can get behind that.

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