Wednesday, June 05, 2013
Ticket to the couch show
When I was a kid, I lived for the movies. Watching the trailers in the theater before a movie started was almost sacred, your one glimpse of what’s to come and what to get excited about. You couldn’t just pop onto YouTube to see all that summer had to offer. You had to wait and anticipate and decide in those two minutes if the fourth Superman movie would really solve the problem of nuclear proliferation.
But over the years, film has become less a driving force in my life. Sure, I still love the movies. The smell of movie theater popcorn makes me instantly feel 13 again and excited about sitting in a dark room with strangers and told fantastical stories.
But that at once solitary yet completely communal act of going to the movies has become less of a cultural driver in recent years because of cinema’s once scoffed upon little sibling, the television. TV is now our cultural barometer, with endless chatter and words and hand-wringing spent on the latest “Game of Thrones,” or “Mad Men” or “Breaking Bad” et al. The serialized nature of TV, its long burn versus quick payoff, makes it perfect for our media obsessed minds. Why just hyperventilate about a 2-hour movie when you could freak out about 22 episodes hour-long spread out over months and month.
I suspect part of TV’s appeal now is the ability to discuss it with dozens, hundred, thousands, millions as it happens. “OMG THE FUCKING STARKS!” said everyone at 9:59 p.m. Sunday night. You can be part of a live conversation and share your opinion with the universe the second it happens. In movies, that immediacy is blocked by basic human decency and the desire not to be the asshole in the theaters who lights up his cellphone to type, “Cool movie, bro.” Heaven forbid we have to wait two hours to tell the world exactly what we thought. But besides the more superficial I tweet therefore I exist aspect of social media, there is also more of a chance to help mold the creative process on TV. That long season means a longer production process which means more fan input which means more audience feedback which could have an impact on storylines and characters. It happens, just ask Brittana (circa seasons 1-2, that is).
But for me, what has turned me over the years away from my first love of the darkened theater and into my current love of my couch (besides comfort and better snacks) is the fact that TV has done a better job of giving women more and better roles. Period. One needs only to look at the current summer movie season to see it’s the same-old boys club where big things go boom. By my informal count there are only three female-led movies coming out: “The Bling Ring,” “Blue Jasmine” and “The Heat.” Two are arthousey fare – Sofia Coppola and Woody Allen projects – and the latter is a buddy cop comedy.
On TV meanwhile the summer offers “Rizzoli & Isles,” “The Fosters,” “The Killing,” “Covert Affairs,” Major Crimes,” “Pretty Little Liars,” “True Blood,” “Hot in Cleveland,” “Unforgettable,” Mistresses” and many more I can’t think of off the top of my head. Women get to be the crime fighters and action heroes and antiheroes and damsels who get themselves into and out of distress almost everything in between.
So I guess what I’m saying is even though movies won my heart first, TV is who I will always go home with. Here’s to long hot summers. And if you want to watch in the dark, just turn off the lights.