View Full Version : American TV: Criticisms and praise
09-03-2001, 07:38 PM
What is good and what is bad about American television? While foreign commentators continue to find fault with a lot of programming that comes out of America I believe that some praise is due as well. There are some people, I'm sure, who would be able to say "everything I learned, I learned from Jerry Springer's wind-up speech" or "everything I learned, I learned from John Boy Walton". The appalling childhoods and family lives of some people make that true. So, in my opinion, inadvertently or otherwise, some American television offers the world moral instruction. A criticism: Programmes are too formulaic. Shows are too much about lawyers, doctors, crime fighters.
09-03-2001, 08:40 PM
One British point of view (mine) is that US comedy has improved immeasurably over the years.
I loved both Seinfeld and The Larry Sanders Show and I mourn their passing.
09-03-2001, 10:25 PM
There's been only 4 TV shows I've watched regularly, and luckily 2 of them are on right now. Cheers, Seinfeld, Sopranos, and The West Wing.
Sopranos and West Wing grew on me. I avoid hype so I didn't watch these for the longest time. I just eased into them and finally got hooked.
I'm not a very cultured person either, I can admit that. I'm your typical american dude. I watch sports, drink beer, and look for boobs on the TV.
TV shows are just too predictable.
We have the shows that center around a certain jobs-hospitals, courtrooms, police. We have the standup comedian who gets their own show and the character has his real name in it. We have the out of place formula, where you take a person and put them in an environment where they don't fit it. There's always the wacky neighbor.
09-03-2001, 10:37 PM
Part of my job at a newspaper involved putting together the TV section, so I got this to say:
American networks are HEAVILY into following trends. One show hits, and you are guaranteed that next year there will be no less than four to six shows that copy that basic premise.
When "Seinfeld" hit, there was a big rush to the comedy circuit to give comedians their own show. Most of them sucked.
When "Judge Judy" hit, the syndicates came out with a bunch of justice clones.
When "Friends" hit, the networks followed with more shows about kooky young people living impossibly high on the hog in big cities.
Other disturbing trends include cramming as many ads into a show as possible, to the point where (last I looked) about 20 minutes of a 60-minute show consists of ads. They'll also turncate the credits and create a cold start into the next show, to keep you from changing the channel.
And while some comedies have gotten better, a lot of them rely more on sexually suggestive material and cursing in an attempt to be funny.
However, this will not degenerate into a "TV is sucking worse every year" thread, because when I was growing up in the '60s and '70s, I watched TONS of TV, and a lot of that sucked back then, too.
What's good about TV: every once in awhile, a combination of actors and writers will create landmark shows that are worth watching again and again. And for every critic who wails that the country will never be united around a single show again (and I'm old enough to have heard that when "Mary Tyler Moore Show," "M*A*S*H*," and now "Seinfeld" went off the air), a show comes along like "Sex and the City" and "The Sopranos" to prove them dead wrong. And we still gather around the glowing boob tube for the big events, too. Big, meaningful cultural events, like the end of "Survivor I" :D
Now that's entertainment.
09-04-2001, 06:16 AM
I can remember the sixties and seventies too. At the beginning of the seventies American sitcoms suddenly became irreverent and brilliantly written. The Mary Tyler Moore Show, M.A.S.H. and Taxi were very different from the bland stuff of the previous decade. Before the seventies British humor was considered superior to American where I live but I don't believe it ever has been again except in a handful of examples like Blackadder, the Comic Strip Stuff and Monty Python. Nowadays some British sitcoms are so unfunny they are downright embarrassing especially when they have laugh tracks. How scriptwriting in both countries could change so much in such a short time has always been a mystery to me.
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