television: an oversaturated serial
We now live in what is most likely the new Golden Age of serialized content.
I say serialized content and not television, because television as a whole isn’t what is experiencing a renaissance — it’s the content that is in the form of dramatic storytelling that is.
Yet, as a person who absolutely loves serialized content (I don’t even read stand alone novels) I can’t help but feel rather fatigued by all the content that is now available.
I find myself continuously filtering out series that I used to addictively keep up with, because… well I’m just not as engaged as I used to be.
With the high level of demand that currently exists, one starts to notice a certain drop in quality…
It’s like those small family-owned restaurants or business that decide to expand and create a franchise.
At first, the business blooms due to quality and customers love being there and the product; but upon expanding the quality drops, the personal engagement reduces, and the overall product loses its uniqueness.
The same process can be applied when thinking about serialized content.
Allow me to go off on a little tangent…
In Lebanon, television networks broadcast one primetime serial approximately five days a week (seven during Ramadan) and once that particular serial is over, the network broadcasts another.
Each network broadcasts one serial from beginning to end, regardless of episode count.
This not only adds pressure on writers, but also risks a lack of variety on the networks, and from a business perspective — less work for people who work in the industry and thus a reduction in need for new fresh talent and voices.
Two sides of the coin, polar opposites — both negatives given in a certain point of view.
While on one hand, in the US of A, the amount of endless opportunities due to the high demand of content leads to a dwindling of quality, in Lebanon the industry forms a sort of clique due to its limited opportunities and makes it hard to offer new, edgy content.
When you look at the franchise-filled box office, you can see many similarities in the lack of originality — hell, you can almost see a foreshadowing of what will happen to television content.
Between pointless remakes, and nostalgia driven reboots, the box office hasn’t had much to offer its ever-dwindling audience in a long time.
Studio networks are too busy competing for social media attention and box office numbers to care about the lack of memorable products that there are being screened in movie theaters.
Sure, when Star Wars Episode 7: The Force Awakens, Wonder Woman, and Avengers: Infinity War came out everybody was talking about them… but how long before the images blur, lines from the film forgotten, and plot lines fade away?
The target for filmmakers and television showrunners now is not to make great memorable content but to simply make content.
This is why films and television series of old continue to entertain audiences and remain in their memories to this day.
Television serialized content creators are now facing the same dilemmas.
An over-competitive and unforgiving environment with a high-maintenance overly opinionated audience that suffers from zero attention span, and zero censorship on social media.
In many ways, its Game of Thrones, the home game…
With all that in mind, I find myself losing interest in all of it and becoming way more selective in what I watch, where I watch it, and most importantly when and how… and I may not be the only one.
The world outside of the tube is already noisy and chaotic, and watching television series used to be the only organized thing of your day, but now you have the ability to choose between the thousands of series that exist, and the hundreds of networks, and streaming services.
By the time you make a decision, you realize that you are too tired to even care…
What is the real cause of all this?
Accessibility? Greed? Money?
Everyone now can create, exhibit and distribute his or her content to as many viewers as possible, and sometimes even get paid to do so…
Does this somehow reduce the magic of the product?
Is this problem in existence in other art forms?
Fashion? Dance? Painting? Sculpting?
More than likely the answer is going to be a big NO due to the fact that you need an actual skill to be able to deliver something of worth…
Is then the saturation of television content, and film the consequence of making this art form, this business of motion pictures, accessible to almost everyone?
The only answer I have at this point is: I don’t know, but something tells me that it is…