Thursday, March 18, 2010

Jaci's US Box - Introduction 3/18/10

Welcome to my new blog, which is going to be sharing my thoughts about television. Despite having been a TV critic for over 20 years, I still can't seem to get enough of the box.

Desperate Housewives, Brothers and Sisters, How to Make It in America, Law and Order - these were just some of the things I caught on US TV yesterday alone.

There is not a day, in the US, where there are not at least half a dozen shows that I really want to watch; many of them are brilliant. There is a range and skill here that I rarely see now on TV in the UK. It used to be there by the bucketload, but I have seen it go so far down the plughole that I think this period in Britain will go down as the Tarnished Age of Television.

It is often argued that reality TV is an indication of the democratisation of a culture that was (at least in Britain) established as an elitist sport. Today, as we know, that has all changed: anyone can be a star, and pretty much anyone can get on TV, to spout whatever rubbish they like, or to wash, air, or sell their grubby laundry.

You can share your love, your addictions, your crimes; your clothes, your plastic surgery, your deformities. And if you're not happy with you who are, there is any number of experts to help you turn into someone else.

But is it really true democracy, in which the supreme power is invested in people collectively; a society in which everyone has equal rights and privileges?

Of course it's not. Reality TV breeds puppets - easily exploitable commodities, who have no more control of their own strings than they ever did. They are all participants in one vast Truman Show, dancing to the tune of an audience that has elevated mediocrity and invariably the stupidity that goes with it, to an art form.

That doesn't mean that a lot of it isn't great fun; but please, let's stop intellectualising it and calling it progress.

It's getting harder for the Brothers and Sisters of this world to get made, and impossible for them to get a slot better than 10pm on a Sunday night. Really good shows are being dropped because they aren't reaching the advertisers' target audiences.

But despite the Kardashians and their ilk, I feel more optimistic about the future of the visual medium in the US than I do in Britain, where the alleged democracy the industry claims we are seeing on screen, still never manages to filter through to the largely white, male, middle class corridors of power.

As Orwell said: all animals are equal, but some are more equal than others.
Labels: introduction


  1. British TV is, as you say, sadly going down the khazi. While our ever-polite American cousins discuss it as the birthplace of I, Claudius and Upstairs Downstairs, we are "entertained" by horrors like Big Brother et al.

    There are still a few gems (Gavin & Stacey particularly springs to mind) but you have to work your way round a large pile of dross to reach them.

    Bet you're missing Pobol y Cwm, though! In case you're interested, Cai and Izzy nearly died of carbon monoxide poisoning recently, while Sioned got into trouble with Denzil and Eileen because she sold the heifer that they'd given her - riveting stuff!!!

  2. Welcome to blogworld Jaci - and I quite agree about the downward spiral of UK television...