What Happened to the Vision in Television?
Here’s how I feel about television in general–it sucks. And so-called “Reality TV” is the biggest suck. If I was tied up in the basement of a serial killer with weird ethics who could only kill me if I begged for it, it would take about forty minutes of “The Bachelorette” to get me to break. I hope none of you out there are ethical serial killers. Switch on a good documentary channel though and you could lay me on a bed of nails for days and I’m not breaking a sweat.
I don’t watch serial drama or comedy anymore either. The last such shows I followed were in the ER and Northern Exposure era, which was of course shortly after I was born. I am just not that interested in forensics, zombies, or people who live in apartments and work in offices, even if they are funny. I guess I’m just a damn old crab or perhaps a snob about TV. And since the old man retired last year, I’ve been watching more of it than I have for years and years. Maybe that’s why I feel particularly cranky about it lately.
Most of his TV viewing is done on the food channels and whichever network is covering Nascar at the moment. I like food. I can watch Unique Sweets or Diners, Drive-ins and Dives repetitively, and lucky for us, we live in redneck country where the finest vittles to be found are cowboy coffee (we call it bong water), and bacon cheeseburgers, (which we don’t eat), so there’s no danger we’re going to run out of the house salivating to the nearest gourmet outlet demanding a creme brulee donut NOW!, because there aren’t any.
I let the old man fly solo with the Nascar races, as I don’t really get the whole concept of several hours of cars driving around and around a large oval track in the heat and I hate the way they always massacre the national anthem at the beginning. The only time it gets exciting is when there is a crash, which makes everyone feel guilty because someone could be hurt, and which brings the whole event to a stand still until everyone is found to be un-hurt and all the debris is cleaned up. Unless there is a fist fight in the pits, which is exciting except I don’t like violence much so even that is a guilty pleasure at best. So for me, the television snob, there are very few channels left to watch for reliable documentary and educational television programming. There is still PBS for Nova and Frontline, (and news without the partisan snarkiness); Link for politics and social issues from an unconventional point of view, and Pivot for issue driven entertainment. Channels like Discovery and TLC, which I now refer to as the The Lame Channel, have been so dumbed down (can you say Honey Boo Boo?) it would take several sleeping pills and a couple of Mojitos to get my BS filter low enough to tolerate much of either anymore.
It’s sad, because there was a time in my young life when I thought that the dream job for me would be documentary film making. I loved the whole concept of riveting reality based media that is poignantly produced and filmed and that educates and informs viewers. And there seemed to be a plethora of channels offering just such programming. There was Discovery and History and National Geographic and Science, all of which still exist, but the programming relies a lot more on sensationalism (SHARK WEEK!), and a lot less on solid informative content anymore. I loved the The Planet Green Channel, which highlighted new and exciting developments in green energy and sustainable living, but that channel just went POOF! one day and disappeared.. (Murdoch’s magic wand perhaps?). And TLC went from educational content to good old boys down home celebrity of the month behaving badly club crap in the blink of an eye.
So I’m down to just a few channels, and luckily I don’t need to make small talk with co-workers because I’m completely out of the loop when it comes to which celebrity is killing it with the tango this week, or who sang what how or who is the most patriotic redneck in the country at the moment and how he wants his country back.
What I do know is this: There is no vision left in television. I’m tired of the crap programming and dammit, I WANT MY TELEVISION BACK.