I like to complain. I know, shocking as it is, it’s true. I enjoy criticising a predominantly sincere and sanguine outlook, often resulting from epistemological differences that share marginal and peripheral relevance to that which one can call his own, insofar as to instigate and culminate in a conjoined and coherent reconsideration of ideas resulting in a more satisfactory and desirable bifurcation of policy… what?.. I moan so much that people change their minds. Sadly, this trend is reaching pandemic heights and it’s affecting what has become one of our most valued civil liberties: good television.
Right now, I feel very disillusioned with what I watch on television; new game shows, sit-coms and even some mainstream dramas splurge out what often feels like a never-ending ooze of mediocrity. Studios and programme makers have found what works and are sticking to it like leg hair to a band-aid. This is particularly true for comedy shows and I think a lot of stems from public outcry in an increasingly outspoken conservative culture. I’m not saying there are suddenly more conservatively right-wing thinking people out there, just that they’ve suddenly got a lot better about voicing their opinions.
I love watching old sit-coms like Cheers or Mash or anything from that generation. The writing was original, sharp and funny. What’s more, these kind of shows were never afraid to toe the line every now and again. They were never overtly offensive, always relatively family-friendly but there was often the odd joke in there that made your mouth drop as you recoiled in laughter as you thought, “how did they get away with saying that?” It was precisely these moments that kept you watching series after series.
Over the years, original comedy slowly began to fizzle out; perhaps all the best jokes had already been told? However, suddenly that risqué style of programming suffered a bombardment of complaints from housewives and grandparents who, in their best Mrs Lovejoy expression proclaimed, “please, SOMEBODY please think of the children!” Well, I’m sorry Mrs Lovejoy, but look at your children now. Guess what, they’re bored! I’m not sure what it was, but television studios instantly took note of all these mollycoddled people and immediately started issuing apologies for any content that may have (or will ever in the future) caused offence. Script writers were told not to do it again and very quickly we’ve landed in the situation we are in now where T.V is boring and afraid to take any risks.
We can look back at shows like Cheers or Mash and say they were relevant for their time but the truth is, these (and many other) classics just wouldn’t get made in this current age. A studio just doesn’t have the will any more to risk the wrath of ill-informed pensioners armed with a laptop that their grandchild helped them buy and an on-line complaints form. Instead, they will continue to churn out unsatisfying droll that is as bland as the paper the script is printed on.
Sadly, this pathological antagonist feels partly to blame; perhaps it was people like me – people who like to complain – that spurred on this movement. It’s just a shame that creativity on the whole has to pay the price. At least I still have my DVD boxsets of old series to wash away the dissatisfaction.