The Golden Age of Television

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A few years ago a good friend of mine shocked me.  I asked him what books he had read recently. He said, “none.”  I was astonished.  How could that be? He was about the most well read guy I knew, yet he said he did not read much anymore. Instead he was watching television. I was thunderstruck. What a pitiful waste of time I thought.

He explained that this was the golden age of television and he was spending a lot of time watching television. I thought this was absurd. After all I was brought up on the value of books and the idea that most television was crap–dreck. There was very little good about anything on television, I thought.

At the time, when I did watch TV  I mainly watched the network shows or sports. ‘What shows should I watch,’ asked. He pointed me in the direction of some television shows I had hardly heard of before. Shows like, The Wire, Mad Men, and Breaking Bad. They were on weird channels I rarely watched. I resolved to give them a try.

I started with The Wire. This is a television show about black youth in Baltimore and their foes, the police and district attorneys. The series spanned 5 seasons. I found it very difficult to watch. I had trouble understanding what the youth were saying. Their slang was nearly impenetrable. After less than half a season I gave up on the show. I thought my friend who recommended it was nuts.  Some time later, maybe a year later, I came back to that show and tried harder “to get it.”  What was this show about? At first I could not grasp it.

After  awhile I thought I started getting an understanding of  what was going on. At least I thought I did. Then I realized that this was an extremely interesting series with some amazing writing and gritty acting. This was a police show unlike any other. Ultimately, I concluded this was the best television I had ever seen.

I also liked Mad Men, though not as much. The creators I thought were geniuses. I fell in love with Breaking Bad. The development of characters in the series and quirky stories and unlikely cinematography was outstanding. I was hooked. I started to love television. I found it hard to believe that this had happened.

I did not give up on books. Thank goodness.  I don’t really think my friend had given up either. Yet I realized some of the best writing, and most creative minds were at work in television. Since then I have come to appreciate many other fantastic television shows. Most of these were not shown on the standard networks with their formulaic approaches, but I could find them. I could find them and be amazed. This is the golden age of television.

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