“So the Emmys this year… did you hear about all those big winners?! Game of Thrones? Oh ya, I mean it isn’t as good as it used to be but it’s still pretty good. Assassination of Versace? Ya I watched it, it was pretty cool. Darren Criss was great.”
And that was about the extent of the water cooler conversation this year. It felt…pitiful. Sad. And most of all, it felt like people didn’t really care, which is a strange feeling in comparison to other recent years, when it felt like people were personally affected when their favorite show took home the gold or got snubbed.
But the fact is, there just wasn’t much for people to care about this year. I know I was feeling starved for content, which seems ridiculous considering how much drama TV is available to us. But that’s just the thing — there’s so much stuff to wade through that it’s becoming hard to pick out the shows that are really worth something, and apparently it was a difficult year for the hunt. Whereas in previous years there have been stand-out series that everyone loved and raved about, like The Handmaid’s Tale, Stranger Things, and Westworld, which all received far less critical and fan praise in their subsequent seasons.
So why was there not that stand out show this season? Where was the one everyone was cheering for? I think this stems from the fact that the industry has pushed to produce more, and subsequently thinned out its audience. Also in doing so, it’s given up a lot of opportunity for proper marketing, and people like me, who seek out new drama regularly, don’t know where to look. Audiences have also decided that they don’t want to waste their time on something that won’t be worth it, so many people today won’t watch content that hasn’t already been raved about or received critical acclaim.
And finally, nothing has been surprising this year. It’s no wonder that Netflix documentaries are doing much better than the scripted dramas — they are more wild, unpredictable, and have inherent stakes. These days viewers are thrill seekers, and they won’t settle for just a single good shock, they need something to sustain them from the first episode to the finale. In an effort to combat the lack of genuinely good original ideas, networks and streaming services have opted to throw more money and energy at series that have been running a long time rather than develop something totally new. However, this leaves people feeling dissatisfied with their viewing options as the shows they once loved drift farther and farther away from the things that made them great.
(I’m talking about you, Orange Is The New Black.)
People are craving that one show that jumps out of the water and demands to be watched. They are becoming fewer and farther between as audiences’ resources and expectations increase. Is it possible that we’ve already reached the peak of our ideas?
I do not believe so, but I do believe that television creators are going to have to start working a lot harder to develop award winning programming, not necessarily because the competition is tougher, but because the judges are getting smarter.
TELL US: Do you think we’ve hit a wall in TV Drama? What TV Drama is currently holding your interest?