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.


Shannon said...

You perfectly and succinctly encapsulated the world of TV these days. I too have started to wean myself off the world of big screen movies (after all they come out so fast on DVD's nowadays) to the smaller screen of TV, with it's broader spectrum of viewing possibilities.

There are so many great shows that can be found these days on TV and so many big name actresses and actors who have found a home on the small screen that I feel I am getting an expansive array of material to watch everyday.

It's nice to be able to just sit on my own couch and relax and enjoy all these shows on my time (thanks to the DVR) and to watch other shows live and tweet along with the rest of the audience out there watching the same show.

Kristan Hoffman said...

I hadn't thought about it in that feminist-y context, but you're so right!!

Gift Basket said...

I've been wanting to watch this. Finally tickets are now available!

Carmen SanDiego said...

Excellent points DS. I had no idea why, as compared to tv, the movies were not interesting me as much lately but there you go: strong female characters

Your friend, Rusty said...

I agree completely. And even shows without female regulars like Supernatural do a great job of bringing in awesome female guests like Felicia Day.

SK said...

It's a good-and-bad thing with TV.

Good: TV lets shows with 'niche' appeal find an audience.

Bad: This lets the content producers treat 'women' as a 'niche', which is clearly bullshit.

Anonymous said...

Great article. TV rules. I still do like the blow up movies and Star Trek did have two women who were integral to the story. Almost everything we watch now other than tv are tv series from Netflix.

Izabel said...

I wonder if you got to know about this:
It happened some weeks ago, and we all know how happy you get whenever a new country joins in. :)

Gift Baskets said...

Your post made me laugh! I am for sure TV junkie