Show Me Some Bad TV

One thing that I’ve grown aware of from the past one week in Television Cultures discussion is just how blissfully unaware I have been with the TV I’ve been watching. It’s like someone pointing at me right in the face, ‘Milo, you do not ever encounter bad TV, shame on you’.

This all began with Telford Mills, a dear friend of mine who in the 2 years that I’ve known him for, recommended one-after-another impressive TV shows, as well as films and literary works. Prior to arriving in Australia my interaction with western TV consisted of series like Will & Grace, Skins, and, some titles now to be included in the ’embarrassed I enjoyed’ bracket (Brothers & Sisters, etc). I was a very ‘westernized’ child on the internet train line. These shows, interestingly formed a western reality that I now question about: is it the experience of interacting with a foreign culture through representation instead of senses.

Then came Six Feet Under, a show that asked some serious questions as I did with this new country I live in. Episode after episode it made me feel sarcastic, about the ‘western reality’ I portrayed, with what seems to be a deep tint of adolescent romantic characters. Six Feet Under, instead, appeared to have a much fuller figure than fiction. No one was living under a particular setup, different elements that make up a person were present in all the characters. It was hard to know who this person is after watching the first episode, the second episode, then you feel like you have made a connection with them, cracked their codes, then suddenly, something comes up, you feel like you don’t know them at all – just like people in real life.

Interestingly everyone cheats, back to fiction?

Graeme Blundel talked about the decade in television and how it evolved to be such a powerful and vibrant platform for building characters. Titles he mentioned, such as The Sopranos, The Wire, as I experienced, share the similar blend of reality and fiction. I don’t know if it makes the show better, and I even feel it defies the definition of entertainment. This is starting to sound like the high culture, low culture talk. Hmmm.

I have to mention Sex and the City. I watched it, really enjoyed it, and it was recommended by Telford, who quite publicly acknowledges his indifference to Pride & Prejudice (the book). I once said to him that in the titles he recommended, everyone is somehow a bit fucked up in general, fucked up and lifelike. No one was particularly giving the presentation on something like all the Ms. Benetts do, instead they are the presentation, they are the complexity. With Sex and the City I felt like a step back in time – when I was watching Will & Grace. There was so much fiction, and surreal encounters with Mr. Big, but hey, the characters weren’t – probably why it succeeded – everyone knew who Carrie was, and oh my, she exists.


2 Responses to “Show Me Some Bad TV”

  1. Interesting ‘high culture, low culture’ look at your television consumption – especially as a new arrival on Australian shores who has become increasingly Australianised (not boganised though, don’t worry!).

    What I took from your post was that you say that shows with more complex characters seemed less fictional, the characters less stereotypes and more reflections of the real. Whilst I definitely agree with this sentiment, I feel there is something to be said about the categorisation of ‘real-life people’, consequent levels of interaction and the knock-on effect of getting to know someone well or just having a surface value friendship, and of course, the role we all play within our social circles.

    I watch Will & Grace. Although the characters seem shallow and one-dimensional compared to those from Six Feet Under, they ring true for me. Will and Grace evolved from character studies. And as a straight single woman who lives with her gay best friend, I can certainly see myself and my housemate in those characters. The fact that I ‘know them’ in every episode, and know them well, makes them seem more real to me.


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