Demi Rasizer is studying at the Middlesex County College, Edison, New Jersey. Demi is our 3rd Runner up and has chosen to write on the topic: Is the fad of Hollywood television series justified? Demi has bagged a prize of $75.
Television, like film, is a magnificent art, not a fad. Justification is not needed; to be enveloped in the creator’s vision is a privilege. For most of my life, I ignored television. I had no interest in “wasting” my time in a sedentary state, accomplishing nothing. That all changed my second semester of college. I had accidentally signed up for an English course that focused on film. I had two options, withdraw because I knew nothing about film, or rise to the challenge. I rose the challenge and am so grateful that I did. Serendipitous? Perhaps, I love film and television today, fully appreciating the creativity and effort put into each and every detail. Films transport us to an alternate reality, to a place we would never be able to travel on our own, an artist’s vision. Not merely a place, but a universe we could never experience in our own lives. Television does the same thing to an even greater extent. An average film is only ninety minutes long. We fall in love with characters, have our hearts broken and mended all within an hour or two. A television series may take thirteen hours in a season and seven seasons to completely tell a story, develop complex characters, and create a setting that incites a nostalgia we find ourselves wanting to savor.
The plot of an intricate television series can be fully actualized in the course of a thirteen episode season. Thirteen hours of winding twists and turns, broken hearts and mended wounds. The potential to convey a story in great detail is not afforded in a film; high budget television has provided the means to tell every detail that a film simply cannot due to time restraints. Plots become so complex over the weeks of a television show. Writers often develop multiple storylines at once, taking weeks to fulfill. What would be a simple trip in a film becomes an all-out odyssey in television. HBO’s the Sopranos had an elaborate plot that took years to develop. From Tony’s panic attacks to the demise of many of his associates, including his own family member Christopher at his own hands. The story simply could not be told in an average length motion picture.
Character development has been taken to new magnitude once never imagined in the pioneer days of film. An excellent television show allows us to become truly acquainted with a character. We see their strengths, weaknesses, and learn details about each character that we would never be able explore in a film. Exceptional writing in television may take hours, weeks, even years to wholly develop a character. A character becomes a family member for the duration of a series. Like a good book, television can go to depths that film simply cannot afford. Currently, Netflix’s House of Cards (US) has created characters of the last four seasons that we love to hate as an audience. We see the depth of desperation the Underwoods and willing to descend to in the conquest of absolute power. We’ve seen generosity on their part as well as cruelty and the worst of humanity. We watch them corrupt their own souls and all of those who come in contact with them. The creation of the Underwoods would not be possible in a few hours of film.
High-budget Hollywood television series’ is not a fad, they are an indispensable part of American culture. A medium for the first time in history being brought close or near to its potential. It is not a fad, and justification isn’t needed. The creators of television shows should be celebrated to the same degree that the directors of blockbuster films are. The mise en scene and effort placed into a show like AMC’s Mad Men was exceptional. Every detail screamed the 1960s, the authenticity, and effort placed into the setting was outstanding. The series was not a trip to the 1960s but a conquest into a period I never would have been able to experience if it was not for the creativity of its writers and staff. I was truly sad when the show ended. The collision of the plot, character development, and setting created an experience I had hoped would never end.
So the question, is the fad of Hollywood television series justified? Vindication is not needed. They continue to raise the standard of television, the quality continues to improve, and audiences continue to fall in love with the silver screen, except now we can do so in the comfort of our own homes. We can instantly transcend the monotony of our daily lives and gain a perspective we cannot even conceive of. Television has been ingrained in our culture since the 1960s, and it is here to stay. I am grateful for accidentally taking a film class. I would never have learned to appreciate the beauty film or television. When we watch television, we are not in a sedentary state, and we accomplish a lot. We learn. Knowledge is power; knowledge is freedom. The expression made possible through television has made me a better human-being; I am more tolerant, understanding, more educated, and most of all grateful for the life I live. Television is not an escape, but a transcendence necessary for the evolution of our culture. That is far from any fad I have seen.