Bear with me. I will get to why this is relevant to this blog in a moment. But first I want to explain why the new TV show Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip sucks.
I have watched 2.2 episodes of the new series. Last night, I tried to watch episode 3 but I had a cold and after taking some heavily narcotic over the counter drug, I couldn’t keep my eyes open. That’s OK. I had already pretty much established my perspective on the show. I am not a HUGE TV fan. I don’t have the time or the energy to watch a lot of TV. Although I try not to miss the Daily Show or the Colbert Report.
I have to say I can get hooked on some shows on network TV. I was a big fan of the The West Wing, especially the first couple years. So, I was really looking forward to this new show that’s being created by Aaron Sorkin and Thomas Schlamme the team that produced the best of the The West Wing. And it stars Bradley Whitford who played a big part in the old show. So I was primed. Eager to get drawn in to a new diversion.
But here’s the thing: It’s about a TV show. So, unlike The West Wing which had revolved around political and social issues like war, poverty, government corruption, etc., the people on this new show are stressing about whether or not the next episode of their COMEDY gets good reviews, ratings, and retains its advertisers. So, what’s at stake? Nothing, but their own hides. Who cares?
The show is full of talented people. The writers, directors and actors are all good. Though I have to say, the casting is a little too pretty.
But set aside comparison to The West Wing. What’s really working on TV? Shows about crime, shows about people in hospitals facing horrendous disease and death, shows about terrorists, survival. In other words shows where something we can relate to is at stake. Do we really care if comedian X gets enough good lines in a sketch or if detergent maker Y hangs in there as a sponsor of the show? Also, I am a little tired of the visual style where everything is dark, deeply shadowed. As if chiaroscuro will deepen the meaning of every seen.
So, how does this relate to technology? I just got to thinking, this show seems to be directed at a younger audience. One that thinks Saturday Night Live is hip (is there such a demographic anymore?). Maybe there is an audience out there for this show. But when I look at the overall TV panoply I wonder why there is not a single show about the Internet…one that has the Internet as a central theme.
So here is my proposal to Hollywood: Stop making movies and shows that only use the Internet as a foil, full of geeks and perverts (often the same person to these folks). Instead, why not create a story enmeshed in the networked culture, one that is subject to the pressures of ever excellerating change, one that touches all parts of the world, not just the insular world of entertainment in the United States. Wouldn’t that attract the young audience they say they are after? Where is that young audience? On the Internet, increasingly aware of the power of the network (the computer network, not the broadcasting network), increasingly excited by the ability to be the producers of content and not the passive recipients.
They probably don’t embrace the Internet out of fear. They are afraid of YouTube, MySpace, Facebook, Google, Yahoo, Web 2.0, the blogoshphere. The fear will make traditional entertainment increasingly irrelevant. Get on the bus, people!
You’re right about cable the quality of shows produced on cable. Hmm, maybe HBO would like to buy my idea :-).
As Showtime and HBO have made TV shows a nice breath of fresh air with real adult language and content (Soprano’s, Deadwood (r.i.p.), Bill Mahr, etc.) network TV will never recover… bound by the FCC’s unclear rules on decency… Network TV is left being PG rated adult entertainment. Basic cable shows have less FCC guidelines to follow, but they don;t push the envelope enough… a few try: Rescue Me and Nip Tuck… but nothing like Paid Cable channels.