Peak TVLatest News and Opinion
Posted Saturday 8/04/18 at 2:51AM EDT
Succession somehow succeeds by featuring aggressively unlikable characters
It's unusual to have a show where every character is unlikable, but the HBO drama about a dysfunctional media dynasty somehow succeeds. "Succession occupies a grey space between comedy and prestige drama, and its cast of horror-show characters are intent on inflicting maximum pain on each other," says EJ Dickson. "This often makes for extremely uncomfortable viewing." Shows like Curb Your Enthusiasm and It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia are other examples of shows packed with unlikable characters, but they bill themselves as comedies. Even anti-hero shows like The Sopranos, Breaking Bad and Mad Men each had a peripheral character "whose innocence or spunkiness humanizes the antihero and throws their bad behavior into relief," says Dickson. Succession's unlikable characters are why some critics initially didn't like the show. As Dickson points out, "Succession has no such moral center. In fact, it cleverly subverts the trope of the moral straight-man...Succession takes a cool, dispassionate, almost clinical interest in the foibles of the rich. Were it not for the snappy, profane one-liners, it would come off as almost documentarian in its approach towards the .001 percent." ALSO: How Succession became a Twitter sensation.
Posted Saturday 8/04/18 at 2:51AM EDT
Why Peak TV shows tend to follow their great first seasons with a sophomore slump
Westworld, UnReal and The Handmaid's Tale are fairly recent examples of Peak TV shows that followed great first seasons with a disappointing Season 2. But it's not just a recent trend. The Sopranos, Lost, Homeland and even Game of Thrones had second seasons that a lot of people found subpar. "A hopefully obvious answer to the disappointing second season problem is a basic tenet of human nature: It’s hard to replicate the experience of first watching something and falling in love with it," says Todd VanDerWerff. "The sheer thrill that accompanied the slow word-of-mouth excitement that boosted Stranger Things in season one was never going to happen again when the show returned for season two. But another obvious answer to this problem is that once a first season tells a mostly complete story, it can be incredibly hard to open up that story again to tell more stories." VanDerWerff adds: "But here’s the Catch-22 about second seasons: A good way to ensure you have a great second season is to air a somewhat disappointing first season. Yet in the age of Peak TV, airing a disappointing first season is a good way to ensure you don’t get a second season at all."
Posted Friday 8/03/18 at 3:50PM EDT
FX boss says TV's golden age has turned into "the gilded age of television," thanks to "narrative exhaustion
FX CEO John Landgraf, who's built a reputation for counting the number of scripted series each year, says there have been 319 scripted series that have premiered so far in 2018, up 5% over last year. At the TV press tour, Landgraf said he worried about "narrative exhaustion," where everything "feels vaguely familiar." “Profusion of stories is very good if you want to talk about innovation and diversity," he said, adding that thanks to that same profusion, “it’s very hard if you’re talking about trying to surprise the audience and delight the audience.” ALSO: Landgraf accuses Netflix of overspending, likening their strategy to "fishing" with "hand grenades."
Posted Thursday 8/02/18 at 3:05AM EDT
When do acclaimed TV shows peak?
Source: The Ringer
Using data from IMDb user rating data for individual TV episodes, The Ringer generated graphs showing "TV aging curbs" that reveal when comedies and dramas are at their best.
Posted Wednesday 8/01/18 at 12:04AM EDT
Can the TV recap survive in the Peak TV era?
Source: The Ringer
TV recaps changed the way we view television, immortalizing classic episodes of shows such as Lost, Mad Men, Breaking Bad and The Sopranos. But as Alison Herman points out, "the streaming model, with its seasons designed to be binged on one’s own schedule rather than watched live as a collective, has made the recap less essential as a place to process a show’s events until the next installment airs. Social media has supplanted comments sections as a meeting site for like-minded enthusiasts. The sheer volume of Peak TV has winnowed the number of shows with a following large and dedicated enough to merit a recap down to a handful of blockbusters and prestige stalwarts."
Posted Wednesday 8/01/18 at 12:04AM EDT
Can the Deadwood movie provide the perfect ending?
Source: The Atlantic
The HBO drama is the third big TV series from the 2000s to be revisted, after Gilmore Girls and Arrested Development. But those two were revived to mixed reviews. "Even without an ending, Deadwood is arguably the apex of the television medium," says David Sims. "Bringing it back feels both alluring and dangerous, a chance to improve on greatness, but with the potential to end on an even more bitter note. That challenge is Peak TV epitomized—risky, somewhat superfluous, but creatively thrilling nonetheless."
Posted Tuesday 7/31/18 at 4:36AM EDT
Presenting The Top 100 TV episodes so far this century
Source: The Ringer
The Ringer's list of 100 episodes include everything from The Price is Right to The Sopranos to Laguna Beach.
Posted Monday 7/30/18 at 12:49AM EDT
The Shield cast reunites
Source: Entertainment Weekly
Michael Chiklis posted pictures of his entire cast and creator Shawn Ryan to Instagram. "Old friends together like time has stood still. Such incredible chemistry. #goodtimes #shieldreunion," Chiklis tweeted. This year marks the 10th anniversary of The Shield's acclaimed series finale.
Posted Friday 7/13/18 at 11:36PM EDT
Sharp Objects is probably the biggest offender in "TV dramas are too quiet" trend
"The dialogue on Sharp Objects is occasionally so inaudible that it’s a very real distraction from an otherwise gorgeous show. It’s time to talk about this problem!" says Kathryn VanArendonk, adding: "It happens in important expositional moments...It happens in vital character-development scenes...It happens in big revelatory moments." Sharp Objects isn't the only too-quiet show. Fargo, Mr. Robot, Dietland, Ozark, Mindhunters, The Americans and The Handmaid's Tale are also offenders. "If quiet dialogue were just a problem for Sharp Objects, this would be a small-scale grievance," she says. "But in its general disregard for audibility — in its commitment to a range of volumes that prioritize slammed car doors and vodka glugs above spoken words — Sharp Objects feels like one of an increasingly noticeable cohort."
Posted Friday 7/13/18 at 2:51AM EDT
Emmy nominations showed some progress, but voters were still too reliant on old favorites
The Emmy nominations announced Thursday showed that "the industry and its members are still broadening their scope in terms of the voices and types of shows they recognize, which counts as progress," says Jen Chaney. "But there’s also still a repetitive quality in the nominations that has been endemic to the Emmys basically since forever and hasn’t quite gone away." Modern Family was finally dropped from the outstanding comedy series category, but every outstanding drama series contender this year has been nominated in the category before. "While most if not all of them are deserving, that speaks to a long-standing trend of carbon-copy voting," she says. She also points out that the same seven reality competition series were also re-nominated from last year. The outstanding variety talk series remained nearly identical from last year, too, with the exception of The Daily Show with Trevor Noah replacing Real Time with Bill Maher. The rubber-stamping is especially flagrant in the outstanding animated series category, which has often featured South Park and The Simpsons since the 1990s -- while rejecting groundbreaking animated shows like BoJack Horseman (Rick and Morty earned its first nomination in that category on Thursday). "I said this last year, I’m saying it now, and I’ll probably say it again at roughly this same time in 2019: the television landscape is enormous and the Emmy nominations recognize only a fraction of it," says Chaney. "That’s inevitable to an extent. There’s simply too much to nominate everything that’s deserving. But while Emmy voters are recognizing more of the breadth of quality viewing that exists, they could still do even better. More than anything, they need to be more daring, something that is, admittedly, hard to do when a persistent chunk of your voting block leans toward old favorites."
- Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos on his groundbreaking day: "I’m most happy that the nominations were spread out among 40 different shows"
- Freshman comedies had their best showing in two decades, while no freshman dramas were nominated for outstanding drama series
- Late-night hosts react to Emmy nominations: Jimmy Kimmel poked fun at ABC while celebrating his show's two noms
- This Is Us creator Dan Fogelman is honored to have the only network show up for best drama series: "To be popular and well-regarded by fancy people is exciting because it means we’re threading a very fine needle"
- This was the last chance for Emmy voters to pay proper respect to The Americans, and they did the bare minimum
- Comedy has benefitted the most from Peak TV, and TV Academy is starting to recognize that
- Winners and Losers: Comedy was the big winner this year, Drama was the big loser
- Ozark was a big disappointment because Netflix sunk a lot of money into its Emmy campaign, expecting it to become the next big awards competitor
Posted Sunday 7/08/18 at 6:39PM EDT
HBO must become bigger and broader, says its new overseer at AT&T
Source: The New York Times
HBO's successful approach of quality over quantity may become a thing of the past. The New York Times has obtained a recording of John Stankey, the longtime AT&T executive now charged with overseeing HBO as head of Warner Media, in conversation with HBO chairman and CEO Richard Plepler before HBO staffers on June 19. In the tape, Stankey appears to suggest that HBO move away from being a boutique operation focused on its signature Sunday night lineup, into something bigger and better -- something more akin to Netflix (without actually naming the streaming giant). “We need hours a day,” Stankey said, referring to the time viewers spend watching HBO programs. “It’s not hours a week, and it’s not hours a month. We need hours a day. You are competing with devices that sit in people’s hands that capture their attention every 15 minutes.” Stankey added: “I want more hours of engagement. Why are more hours of engagement important? Because you get more data and information about a customer that then allows you to do things like monetize through alternate models of advertising as well as subscriptions, which I think is very important to play in tomorrow’s world.” Pleper pointed out that HBO's approach has generated a lot of money. “Yes, you do,” Stankey responded. “Just not enough.” In an interview with The Times last month, Stankey promised a hands-off approach to HBO and CNN.
Posted Saturday 7/07/18 at 10:36AM EDT
GLOW proves that streaming shows don't have to structure their seasons like a very long movie
"The truism about writing a season of a streaming TV show — that it isn’t really TV, it’s a very long movie — is one of the more tiresome, unnecessary clichés currently in vogue," says Kathryn VanArendonk. Even showrunners of non-streaming shows -- from Mr. Robot to Game of Thrones to Twin Peaks and Westworld -- like to describe their seasons as like a "10-hour movie." But as VanArendonk points out, "the problem is that too many shows built for the long haul are boring. They’re full of baggy, meandering stories that equate episodic stories with frivolity and season-length ones with quality. Even more frustrating, the ten-hour-movie phenomenon ignores the potential for an episode to be something other than a plot bucket. The implication is that a show with an episodic framework is something lesser than, weaker, or simpler. GLOW season two is a great reminder that using an episode as an individual unit rather than one act in a film — or a book chapter, or some otherwise meaningless divider — makes the whole season stronger." She adds: "It’s so encouraging to see a show like GLOW approach the streaming form in a way that doesn’t turn the whole season into structureless pulp. The strength of separate units, stories with their own power and weight, doesn’t have to get discarded just because the episodes don’t come out one at a time."
Posted Friday 7/06/18 at 3:07PM EDT
Blumhouse's Jason Blum: TV showrunners make the best directors for our movies
The producer of low-budget horror films like Get Out and The Purge, who is also producing HBO's Sharp Objects, tells indiewire of why he prefers hiring from TV: “The best directors for us, for our movies, are showrunners. Better than the man or woman who had the hottest movie at Sundance or the greatest resume or anything else, the best prototype to direct a Blumhouse movie is a showrunner.” That's because TV shows prepare directors to be flexible while making the most of their time on set. “Showrunners are used to our pace in the movie business,” says Blum. “We have a somewhat TV-pace in (our) movies, but also the movies are much more successful if the director writes, because you can do stuff on the fly, and the showrunner has a kind-of producer mentality.”
Posted Friday 6/29/18 at 10:56PM EDT
We are living in TV's golden age of "What the hell did I just watch?"
Source: The A.V. Club
Westworld isn't the only show that confuses viewers, intentionally or not. "In fact," says Sean O'Neal, "Westworld is just one of a modern breed of deliberately obfuscating shows that demand to be worked in order to—or sometimes, rather than—enjoyed. Its lightly scrambled timelines and endless robot teases are certainly nothing compared to Legion, a series so far gone that most everyone in its orbit has avowed that being confused is entirely the point—that you should just embrace never quite knowing what’s going on as part of its appeal. Indeed, every episode of Legion feels like blundering, in media res, into someone else’s weird dream after they ate too much Indian food and watched a Cronenberg movie. It’s entrancing but often exhausting, though always beautiful to look at, and I’d sure like to sit its cast and crew down and offer $100 to any one of them who can clearly, succinctly tell me what’s going on." O'Neal adds that a lot of pop-culture these days seems to require extracurricular work: "It’s endemic of a lot of our current, internet-engine-driving entertainment, actually," he says, "all of which assume a certain amount of prior research before you’re even welcomed in the door: in the blockbuster comic-book movies that function as Very Special Episodes; in huge sci-fi film franchises that just assume you’ve also caught up on its cartoon spinoffs; even in our massive crossover hip-hop albums."
Posted Friday 6/29/18 at 10:56PM EDT
Literary writers used to be snobs when it came to television -- now they want to be TV writers
Source: Vanity Fair
"So utterly has the literati’s disdain for the small screen dissolved that nowadays novelists are lining up to have their books adapted," says Joy Press. "If you eavesdrop on any gathering of serious writers, they’re as likely to be discussing Killing Eve or Better Call Saul as they are the latest book by Zadie Smith or Rachel Kushner. Even the University of Iowa is launching TV-writing programs this fall ... Peak TV has turned the industry into a monstrous maw starving for writing talent. Last year, nearly 500 scripted series aired on broadcast, cable, and streaming outlets. Netflix alone plans to unleash 700 original series and movies in 2018. This attention overload means that standing out from the pack is paramount."