08th Feb2018

Culture Dump #24: Are we exiting TVs golden age?

by Simon Bland

game-of-thrones-dragon

It’s been awhile since we left Tony Soprano eating with his family in that diner. Two whole years have passed since Don Draper dreamed up his last big ad campaign at that mountain retreat. In just over a year’s time, Westeros will be through with fighting and the battle for the Iron Throne will be done and dusted. Old news. Over. Kaput. What will we watch then? Will there be anything out there in telly land worthy of taking the place of these epic water cooler shows or has the wave of amazing TV silently crashed into the shore and disappeared without any of us noticing?

It was shows like these that heralded in television’s golden age just over over a decade ago. In the years that followed, small screen entertainment just got better and better, from gripping hour-long dramas like The Wire and Breaking Bad to smart, quick-hit comedies like 30 Rock and Parks and Recreation. TV quickly established itself as the place to be, often overtaking its big screen counterparts in terms of quality, depth and overall enjoyment. Big name stars flocked to the series format and awards were won.  It was even powerful enough to bring gone-before-their-time shows back from the dead, with avid viewers embracing high-brow programming and demanding more from those who controlled its fate. However while we were all busy binge watching, we stopped paying attention to how long this flip of fortune may last.

To say that 2017 saw a lot of changes in film and television is a bit of an understatement. Revelations about Harvey Weinstein not only rocked Hollywood but had ripple effects in all corners of show business, including television. Many of the shows that helped redefine what could be done in the format were affected. Kevin Spacey was unceremoniously fired from House of Cards; FX cut all future ties with Louis C.K; Transparent star Jeffrey Tambour hinted at his departure from the award-winning show and Netflix has yet to decide the fate of Aziz Ansari’s Master of None. Similar to how allegations against Brand New front-man Jesse Lacey signalled a time-to-move-on book-end to the emo genre for let down fans, perhaps this whistle blowing marks the end of a golden era for television entertainment.

Separating the art from the abusers involved in creating it can be a confusing process for all those who related to, and built aspects of their identity around, the shows impacted by recent allegations. For years, the stream of unparalleled and abundant television entertainment seemed too good to be true and as the Weinstein scandal and its fallout continues to unfold, we may have discovered that that’s exactly what it was. Maybe this is the right time for television’s golden age to come to a close. As for what comes next? Only time will tell. However it’s safe to say that big changes are certainly on the way.

What do you think we can expect from television’s Silver Age? Let me know in the comments section below!

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