Tuesday, September 18, 2007
in defense of (great) television
it’s been awhile. i wanted to write an entry about my new sewing/crafting set-up in our office, but then i stopped using it the moment i set it up (but i'll share later, because i am excited about it).
the blame for my neglect falls on mad men and the wire, which are two really excellent cable TV dramas. i'll craft later. right now, mad men’s season one is stored temporarily on on demand and seasons one and two of the wire are on loan to me. so, i have to diligently watch them in blocks, because i don’t want to miss the deadline or keep my friend waiting. but i really want to watch them; they’re both really exceptional shows. and they both share critical acclaim, but neither seem to have the commensurate viewership. the earlier is set in the 1960s, capturing the dramatic metamorphosis of american social norms as it follows ad agency executives and their lives. what i like most about it is its look into middle and upper-middle class american gender roles, which are realistically driven more by individual interests than an over-arching allegory. the characters are simply people, flawed and relatable.
though i am not quite done with the first season, i feel comfortable saying the wire is probably one of the best shows ever made. i’ll say upfront that it is a cop drama, but quickly add that no other cop drama before it is as realistic and as compelling. it takes place in the baltimore ghettos, surrounding a homicide police unit focused on drug-dealing gangs. i love this quote by its writer/producer, david simon, who says of the show, "[it] really [is] about the american city, and about how we live together. it's about how institutions have an effect on individuals, and how... whether you're a cop, a longshoreman, a drug dealer, a politician, a judge [or] lawyer, you are ultimately compromised and must contend with whatever institution you've committed to." it's smart, gritty, and forces you to think about it, especially when you're not watching it.
and because this entry has become a recommendation list, i will also say that small town gay bar, who the #$&* is jackson pollock, and sicko are documentaries you should see, if you haven’t already.
i have zero problem enjoying TV or movies with the same enthusiasm that i give reading novels, doing puzzles, playing chess, video gaming, or crafting. everything in moderation, as the saying goes. but i wanna say that i think TV and movie watching gets a bad rap as being lowbrow and/or a waste of time. and although karl and i have our guilty pleasures like wife swap and real world, there’s a difference between those and, say, a documentary or a realistic cop drama that do something more for your awareness, bringing you to see and learn things that you might never be able to (or want to) experience. anyway, i guess what i am saying is anti-TV movements brought on by groups like adbusters are kind of silly to me. watching TV and movies can be as rewarding experience as you’d like it to be. and on that note, i’ve saved you the time of finding some good ones.