Life in Hollywood, below-the-line

Life in Hollywood, below-the-line
Work gloves at the end of the 2006/2007 television season (photo by Richard Blair)

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Just for the Hell of It -- Episode Ten

                         Have you heard the good news?

Well I’ll be damned.  In a world battered by wave after wave of increasingly terrible news --  the medieval beheadings of ISIS, the infectious nightmare of Ebola, the looming election season -- comes a ray of light to pierce the darkness.  The network that brought us three of the finest shows on television over the past decade -- Breaking Bad, Mad Men, and The Walking Dead -- has decided to dump the bulk of its so-called “reality programming."  Only Comic Book Men and Talking Dead (the post-Walking Dead discussion/call-in show) will survive the purge.
The quote from AMC, via the Hollywood Reporter:
“We are proud of our efforts in unscripted programming and the unique worlds we have been able to introduce, but in an environment of exploding content options for viewers, we have decided to make scripted programming our priority.”  
Although I seriously doubt AMC has anything to be proud of in their stabs at "unscripted programming" (the Industry's lipstick-on-a-pig term for un-reality television), this announcement is music to my ears.
You can read the entire article here, but I offer you my own biased translation:  
“We weren’t making enough money trying to shove all this “reality” bilge down the throats of our viewers -- who apparently are a lot smarter than we thought -- so we’re flushing that steaming pile of unscripted crap down the toilet, where it belongs.”
For anyone who appreciates quality television, this is very good news. AMC seemed to be leaning toward the dark path blazed by A&E (which lost what little credibility that network still had with their recent cancellation of Longmire) in descending back down the cultural/evolutionary ladder into the fetid swamps that spawned the likes of Duck Dynasty.*
“Reality TV” is nothing but a carny act, a modern shuck-and-jive wherein a group of carefully selected “regular people” are put in front of cameras, then poked with a sharp stick to see what happens.  What felt like a fresh take on innocent televised fun back in the days of Candid Camera  eventually mutated into into something infinitely more cynical, manipulative, and ugly.  

I'm glad to see it go, if only from the programming schedule of a single cable network. One step at a time, people, one step at a time. 

Well done, AMC.  I can only hope the rest of the networks follow your lead.

* If you're a fan of this show, relax. It doesn't matter to me what you watch on television -- that's your business, not mine -- so don't take it personally if I don't share your taste in viewing material.  And much as I hate to barf up the hoary old cliche of "Wouldn't it be boring if we all liked the same things?", there's some truth to it. Besides, "different strokes for different folks" pretty much makes the world go 'round -- and you might well laugh long and hard at my own choices of television viewing… 


k4kafka said...

I am old enough to remember the early days of television, when there were only three networks and test patterns after midnight. And yet, we were presented with some wonderful live original plays performed by young unknown actors...With so many talented people in this town...why wouldn't that concept work today ? I know the answer...(sadly)

Michael Taylor said...

Kafka --

That's one good thing about cable -- great shows like "The Wire" (among many others) provided an opportunity for legions of terrific young actors to show what they could do. We can't go back to the past, but in a way, cable offers a similar (if thoroughly updated) forum for new talent as those shows back in the day.

And yes, I too fell asleep more times than I care to admit while staring at those test patterns...