Sam commented on my last post calling me the TV Show Master so I wanted to write a post on TV.
I’ve definitely watched a lot of TV in my lifetime. There are so many good shows out there that it’s easy to get hooked in their world that’s exponentially more exciting than mine. What intrigues me is that I don’t remember what I liked about the TV show a lot of times, I only know how much I liked it.
For instance, I remember thinking the first season of Fargo was one of my favorite TV shows ever. Yet all I can remember is that Billy Bob and Colin Hanks square off in the end. That’s it. All other details are zilch. That was only 3 years ago. Imagine TV shows that go back further than that. Sopranos? Aside from the episode with Christopher and Paulie hunting down the Russian (and the next scene if you watch that), and Meadow being a dumb name, that’s all I can remember. Dexter? Rita was hot. Boardwalk Empire? Nuckie was a dumb name. That’s the extent of my memory.
I’m not joking either. I remember liking the shows, but I don’t know the specific reasons. I can only convey the feelings I remember when I was watching them and what impression they left on me. With that in mind, I do have some qualities of shows that I do like:
Intelligence – I don’t want to watch people who are dumber than me. They have to be crafty and adapt to their circumstances in ways that I would have not thought of. Think Jaime Lannister in the last episode where he outwitted the attack on Casterly Rock. He’s a likable character along with Tyrion. Intellectual depth to the characters is a must for a memorable show. I also noticed this with Marty from Ozark, Mike from Better Call Saul (and Breaking Bad), and Michael Scott from the Office.
The Fear of Death– Most quality shows have some suspense that is always lingering. Characters are never safe and there’s always the fear that the next episode could be their last. If you know the character is going to make it, then why they hell am I watching. I want to know that their life is always in danger.
Clever Wit – Varga from the 3rd Season of Fargo is my best example (that I can remember) that each time he spoke I was curious to know what words he was choosing and how he was using them. Every piece of dialogue was calculated and this kept my interest. Other characters who come to mind were Omar from the Wire but more with his actions. Billy Bob in the first season from Fargo is also on the list.
Realism – This is the #1 reason I like a show. If I can’t believe what is going on, I lose interest. You can say, “in GoT there are dragons, that’s not realistic.” It doesn’t actually have to be realistic, but the people have to act realistic to their surroundings. If one guy is acting questionable, and there is not a good explanation for why they are acting that way, then I tend to say, “that’s stupid.” #1 reason for why I turn a TV show off
I like other shows like Arrested Development, Family Guy (the first 5 seasons), South Park, Silicon Valley, and The Office (mainly for Michael), but I wouldn’t categorize these comedies as first rate television. Real life is necessary for a good show.
I’ll close with a good clip.