In television land, sometimes less is more after all.
With cable exceeding the major networks these days, TV offerings have never been better. The likes of ABC, NBC and CBS are stuck in a creative rut, incapable of producing daring, challenging shows to an increasingly ravenous audience. Instead, they prefer safer series with amicable characters doing amicable things.
That has set cable apart in the fight for television dominance. Everyone is now playing catchup to AMC and its superlative growth–specifically The Walking Dead ratings-wise and Mad Men creatively. But networks also see an opportunity in the chaos, leading to the sternest competition for eyeballs ever. A new golden age of television is creeping near, if we’re not in the midst of it already, leaving one major downside: for pop culture fanatics, it’s too much to handle.
As a college student, I’m busy staring at a computer screen typing away or listening to instructors’ lectures. Only late at night–3 a.m. mostly–do I find myself having the time or patience to watch an hour or two of compelling TV. And as someone who follows lots of shows (and writes about them for a site, preferably in a timely manner) I can’t afford much sleep.
Forget the working world, too. In between kids, work and other priorities, working people can barely muster the time or energy to enjoy life. Netflix may have changed that dynamic with “binge watching” (a horrific phrase, honestly), but that is largely a weekend thing. Plus, never mind the fact that some shows don’t arrive on the digital channel for up to half a year after the air date.
The abundance of great television is overwhelming. This embarrassment of riches is both great and terrible, for most of the same reasons. For one, enjoying an hour of Breaking Bad is something to look forward to during the week, but we can’t do more of it. Some of us are stuck watching a critical episode ages after it airs, or missing out on the fun of critiquing it afterwards. The Internet helps this somewhat, but even then, the networks take their sweet time posting episodes up. Again, AMC is ahead in this department: Its shows are Netflix-bound a few hours after the original broadcast. A Brit can watch the latest Breaking Bad episode the following Monday morning.
Online viewing is the saviour for many of us pop culture junkies. And for those with busy schedules. Children are treasures, sure, but so are the final two 75-minute episodes of Breaking Bad. Don’t want to miss those!
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