There is no denying that TV has changed in the last decade due to technology, accessibility and the great variety of shows that are out there. However, the most fascinating development for me is how television has not only become engrained in certain cultures, but has also become a culture of its own.
Shows are made like movies with in-depth narratives, fantastic quality and this high level of addictiveness. We no longer yearn for more at the end of the movie. We instead become encapsulated by TV shows always craving more, wondering what’s next and because there is so much more too it and we are finally becoming satisfied.
The documentary Hollywood: The Rise of Television Series (2005) sums up this growth well through discussing which shows have stood the test of time in terms of high end TV dramas and how the slow demise of censorship on screen has let shows gain a greater sense of reality than ever before.
Before I explore which were the most popular television dramas demonstrated in the documentary (and some of my own opinion) let me first define what television culture is. The oxford dictionary defines culture as “The ideas, customs and social behaviour of a particular people or society.”
I’m sure some of you know when you begin watching a television series you get drawn in after each episode reveals yet another shocking plot twist, another cliff hanger, another reason to watch the characters development, you want to watch just one more, you begin to know the characters as real people and then yet another cliff hanger again and again – it becomes addictive.
The culture of not watching a television series on television but rather having marathons dedicated to a particular show, attending conventions, themed parties and participating in cultural jokes and references has become quite common in todays society. The amount of emails I receive from friends who sign off with “xoxo gossip girl” is actually quite embarrassing. This is all a demonstration of how wider society is drawn together through one very unhealthy social behaviour…addictive TV drama series.
One of the first television series that was blessed with an addictive nature was the Soprano’s. The complex narrative allowed audience’s to develop their own personal relationships with the characters going beyond the 45 minutes of each episode. Other series include The Wire, Game of Thrones, the West Wing, Sex and the City, Break Bad and Orange is the New Black. The list goes on.
The biggest reason these shows were so successful was because of the slow demise of television censorship. The more realistic the shows became when demonstrating sex, violence, drugs and swearing the more relatable it became to audiences. Not only were the imaginations going wild for viewers the writers and creators were given more creative freedom giving way to a generation of high quality details (and addictive) TV drama series.
There is no censorship in reality so why should there be one on television? In an article written by Graeme Blundell he discusses the appeal of reality in television series and how from that, reality TV became a cheap way to exploit this audience demand for realism.
Personally, my favourite drama television series is Game of Thrones. There is enough a sense of reality that it is believable and there is also enough creativity to satisfy my imagination.