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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Television was never cool

And it still isn't. The problem is television now tries to be cool and like someone at a party who name drops, it just makes it worse. Take the show Parenthood. The pathos of this show knock you back immediately. But what makes this show almost intolerable are the contrived moments of parental coolness where everyone has a nice home, looks like a million bucks, doesn't have a crappy job, and has boatloads of time for interpersonal angst.  Can anyone say Thirty Something? But then comes the final stab in television faux edginess; the music.

Somewhere, maybe since Goodwiill Hunting television adapted the idea of interjecting crappy contemporary music (musac most of it) into scenes and hitting us over the head with pathos as if we weren't drowning already. The scenes overplayed by marginal actors are bad enough with everyone stumbling toward the tear jerker moment but then they crank up the "edgy" music with some guy crooning over the top of the scene and a guitar picking out sentimentality upon sentimentality.

And you quickly realize this is standard. But it goes with the way these shows are directed now. Canned over the top scenes designed to elicit maximum emotion for no gain. Think of  plane trying to start and taxing around on the runway but getting no lift. Now add crappy saccharine music that is supposed to make us think how young, edgy, urban, chic, heartfelt and relevant this show really is. When it is not at all.

We need the alternate universe that televison provides and started with shows like Bonanza and gave us an escape. And that was fine. It was contrived and not supposed to mimic real life or make a statement or even be relevant. And we could settle in with that. But this overthetop just happened kind of story telling doesn't really work. And it is not very entertaining.

And it certainly isn't cool.

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Books by William Hazelgrove