Opinion – Is TV In Better Shape Than Film?

September 24, 2017 (Last updated: September 29, 2017)
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The Emmys have got me thinking. I watched a lot of the shows that were nominated this year – Big Little Lies, Ray Donovan, Westworld and The Night Of come to me off the top of my head. These were all fantastic shows, Big Little Lies especially, as it wasn’t something I would have necessarily put down as my sort of thing. And there were plenty of other well-known programmes that were also nominated and that went on to win. However, it’s not so much the awards thing itself that is the main talking point here. The nominees were a very diverse bunch. For example, there was more than one decent female part in contention for the best actress categories, AND there were people from all backgrounds included (some of these actually won too!).

As a result of the positivity surrounding all aspects of these awards, I’ve come to the conclusion that TV is in better shape than film at the minute. Think about it – we’ve just had a massive awards ceremony where the majority of the nominees fully deserved their nominations and there was no controversy. What’s going on? This is not how I’m used to things working of late. Where were the racial and political undertones that ended up overshadowing the whole thing completely? These things just didn’t exist in the run-up to last weekend’s ceremony. As a result, people are talking about the TV shows and the performances within them… as they should be. Things were all very peaceful, and everybody focused on what they were there to focus on. TV has made miracles happen, end of.

However, you can’t deny that TV has had a tendency to be a hell of a lot more consistent than cinema of late as well. HBO series are always tremendous, and from this side of the pond, Sky Atlantic is doing a pretty good job of keeping up with the big boys from the US. Just look at the likes of Fortitude – that’s getting better as it goes along. Plus you’ve got the BBC still producing some knock-out stuff that attracts the big stars. Broken comes to mind here for me, with Sean Bean as a parish priest in a poor part of Sheffield. When TV channels want to create something worth watching, they can do it really bloody well, and it always gets people talking. I can give you two examples right here and now, of two shows that had that effect a couple or three years ago – True Detective (first season of course) and Happy Valley. Both were absolutely phenomenal and they brought in fecking huge audiences, and they got those audiences hyped for second seasons that took a really, REALLY long time to arrive. They were shows that grabbed hold of people all over the place. They forced you to talk to those you encountered as you went about your day – now that’s saying something, surely?

The thing is, TV has become more of an event than cinema. People look forward to new seasons of a favourite show and get excited about new ones starting. Film just doesn’t seem to have had that effect on mainstream audiences recently. And, seeing as we’re being honest, how often are we getting new and original content in film that succeeds in wowing everyone? Look at mother! as a good example – that was a very different idea, but it has also proved to be a very divisive film. However, when we get similarly out-there ideas released on the small screen, it unites people and suddenly we’re screaming for more. There’s also the whole idea that there is just a hell of a lot more decent parts on TV for actors from all backgrounds to move in on. It would seem that TV is the place that is more welcoming to up and coming actors, plus those who maybe want to regenerate their career or take it in a different direction.

Personally, I would say that TV is in a better position that film at the minute. There seems to be an awful lot more consistently good content being shown on the small screen all the time, whereas a lot of films succeed in falling on their arse after promising the world and failing to deliver. I’m not saying that film is in dire straits, just that in order to find the better stuff you do have to be prepared to root around a bit more. There’s also all the political stuff that I won’t venture too far into – just know that there’s a lot less controversy surrounding the best TV programmes than a lot of films.

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