The Golden Age of Television


Television’s biggest feature is its length. Writers and directors have a chance to develop and fully engage with aspects of their story lines in a way that has always been elusive to film. As such people are becoming more and more invested with the characters’ lives they follow on screen.

In the past cinema has always been considered to be superior to television. The actors, directors and producers of film have enjoyed a higher status than their counter-parts, who were considered to be sell-outs. This position is fast coming to an end as we enter the New Golden Age of Television. Creators of TV shows are now enjoying praise for their artistry in many areas such as cinematography, post production, and scriptwriting. Today we have an abundance of top-quality comedies and dramas and it is estimated that up to one in five Americans talk about TV shows during a typical day. Filmmakers such as David Fincher, now the executive producer of House of Cards, are dipping their toes into television. A-list feature stars such as Colin Farrell, Vince Vaughn, and Rachel Mcadams, now starring in True Detective, are following suit.

The first Golden Age of Television started around the late 1940s and extended to the late 50s and early 60s. It refers to America’s welcoming embrace of the new invention as well as the programs that appeared during this period.

Since the first Golden Age, television’s revolution has come in two waves and is largely attributable to the way in which consumers access TV shows. The first wave came with the introduction of the subscription model. Consumers can now access television though cable, satellite and telco subscriptions. This model dispensed with the limits usually placed on the content of television and opened the door for writers and directors to engage with racier and provocative issues.

The second wave came with the rise in online streaming services. Companies such as Amazon and Netflix are creating opportunities for TV that were unheard of in the past. Their online streaming platforms place even less restraint on TV shows regarding time and creativity and are fast becoming the defining feature of the New Golden Age of Television. In fact, Amazon and Netflix shows brought in a total of 46 Emmy nominations in 2015. These streaming platforms allow viewers to watch their favorite TV shows at their own pace free from scheduling conflicts or commercial breaks. In fact, this online streaming phenomenon has become so popular that many people are simply canceling their cable or satellite subscriptions and looking to Netflix or Amazon to cater for their entertainment needs.

Television is quickly catching up to film in terms of both quality and viewership. Some would say we are in an age in which there is possibly too much excellent television. FX’s Landgraf has predicted that 2015 and 2016 will represent the peak in American Television after which we will see some decline. Whether that prediction will be realized or not, television is most certainly enjoying a large share of the entertainment pie.

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