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Blog In TV Fans

Is TV getting smarter or dumber?

By David Silverberg
Posted Jan 13, 2012 in Technology
This week, two things made me rethink TV's potential in bringing us quality programming: a clip from Toddlers & Tiaras, and the announcement of a new show about musical chairs. Sure, reality TV is nothing new, but when I saw this segment about this for-some-reason popular TV show about kid beauty pageants, I gasped in amazement. People watch this drivel? They love seeing parents feed their children sugar juice so they can be pumped for their exploitive pageants?
Then I heard about a reality show riffing off the musical chairs game, and I wondered how far TV has sunk. Have execs really run out of ideas? I know reality shows are crazy cheap, but it seems Hollywood sees us as idiots, hungry to consume the next reality TV trend like pigs at the trough.
And judging by ratings, perhaps some of us enjoy that sojourn at the trough.
But I'm confident TV shows have actually gotten smarter over the past few years. Well. Some shows.
I recently binged on all the seasons except one of Breaking Bad, the hit AMC show about a science teacher-turned-drug-dealer. It's well-written. The acting is spot on. The shows leave you hooked, like how I still am with Dexter , a show about a serial killer. Breaking Bad gave me good reason to believe TV was challenging viewers and making us piece together the puzzle before the big reveal.
Others have told me they feel the same about The Wire, Mad Men, Weeds, Entourage, Boardwalk Empire and many more cable shows. They say they can't stop watching these shows, compelled to finish the season to its completion, outside life be damned! I can relate. I haven't missed a Dexter, Walking Dead or Californication episode yet. And I thought I was more of a reader than boob-tuber.
That goes to show how addictive good TV can be. But then I look at The Bachelor and Pawn Stars and some show about coupons (30 minutes of people redeeming coupons?) and I wonder where we're headed. Will we see more Breaking Bad or more Toddlers & Tiaras? Or will they continue to co-exist like two rival gangs jockeying for more turf to sell their stash to us hungry customers?
Yep, I've definitely been watching too much Breaking Bad.

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