A problem with the usual TV formula

tv

So many channels and there’s nothing on.

A big problem I have with TV, especially American TV, is the way TV shows are generally produced. Usually, each TV show has to churn out one whole season per year, and each season consists of somewhere between 18 and 26 episodes. I never understood why TV shows work this way, and I certainly don’t think of it as a creative enterprise.

Of course, there’s a good reason why this is a problem. Righting a good story takes time and effort, and many TV shows expect to make several, and while most TV shows can, most don’t. In fact, many TV shows don’t take very long to run out of steam when it comes to creative ideas, and it’s mainly because the writers have to exhaust every ounce of their creativity just to keep a TV show alive at the behest of producers (who usually know nothing about how to make art).

This continuous wearing down of creativity is a particular problem in the world of comedy, where, after a while, they start resorting to cheap jokes and positively lame plots. Then again, this happens all the time in sitcoms, a genre devoid of any semblance of creativity where the conventional formula does the most damage. Perhaps the formula is the most straining in popular, long-running shows such as The Simpsons, which now puts out 22 new episodes a year, each of which show increasingly less creativity each year. What it does show is that we have a TV show that has been around for way too long and refuses to stop subjecting itself to the standard TV formula. Why do TV shows need so many episodes? There’s no real point since, in most TV shows, many of the episodes are basically filler, and this shows in the writing. Many TV shows deteriorate after using up all their best ideas, and the producers still insist that they continue anyway.

Instead of producing as many episodes as possible, wouldn’t it be more efficient and more creatively viable to make less episodes per year that are more well-written? Of course, I can probably suggest that until the cows came home but I doubt that TV producers will listen. They’re continually living in denial of the fact that TV is a dead art form. Many TV producers act as though TV isn’t being replaced Netflix, and the result is the same irresponsible writing that created terrible shows like Two and a Half Men. The conventional formula of making 20+ episodes per year has gotten tired and stale, and the age of the medium itself is showing (despite the presence of widely acclaimed TV shows that appear not to be afflicted by the standard formula).

All this mainly applies to scripted TV shows. For reality TV shows it’s even worse, with shows often running multiple seasons each year. Of course, reality TV shows are inherently uncreative, but they get produced so often and in the same formulaic way that it’s almost the same as having the same thing every year from scripted TV, this is mainly because TV producers don’t seem to realize that seeing the same things over and over again has gotten really sickening. As bad as it is, I doubt that things will change, since TV is a medium controlled by money-grubbing producers who are under the impression that viewers are morons. As long as that goes, TV will continue its transformation into a cultural wasteland.

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One thought on “A problem with the usual TV formula

  1. I agree with a lot of the points suggested here. When I was younger, I really enjoyed The Simpsons and used to eagerly await each new episode. I have not enjoyed a new episode for around ten years, as, since then, the jokes have become weaker and seem weird, such as a character yelling a strange phrase or trying to reference a story in the news. Someone once told me that the old episodes followed a story, while the newer ones just resembled a series of random events. One of the reasons I feel many TV series are less enjoyable is because, instead of telling a story, they seem designed to initially attract viewers and then continue running episodes until people get bored and the series is cancelled. In modern times, there are a number of series (such as Gotham, Bates Motel, Hannibal, etc.) that are intended to show the events prior to events in famous films. I suspect that these series will never reach a conclusion and will continue to be filmed until the ratings decrease, which means the viewers will not see how the series is linked to the films. I agree about reality TV shows. After seeing a number of reality TV stars becoming highly prolific, I now suspect these shows are only designed to gather publicity about these people and try to form a personality that can be sold to the public.

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