Are the latest TV shows mirroring society? Cover Image
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Are the latest TV shows mirroring society?

Author(s): Iosif Astrukov
Subject(s): Fine Arts / Performing Arts, Film / Cinema / Cinematography
Published by: Институт за изследване на изкуствата, Българска академия на науките

Summary/Abstract: In a decade or so alone, TV shows as a genre have changed drastically, becoming central to popularity with audiences. The reasons for this are numerous and miscellaneous, both economic and social. Looking several decades back, the best formats until around the early 2000 were the so-called sitcoms, clearly associated with the television and all its specifics. Then, at the inception of the internet their onscreen existence was solely on television. After 2000, TV shows began to change appreciably both in form and in reference to perception. The earliest such series surprised with their vision, radically different from the then prevailing TV studio format, which until then was a priority of the expensive commercial films. Like films, TV shows were increasingly available online. Nowadays, television from a dominant media has become rather concomitant with TV shows. The internet viewability gave novel, once-unthinkable and game-changing dimensions to the industry. A TV show’s life on the internet is significantly longer than that on television. Moreover, there is no such thing as primetime online. Once uploaded onto a streaming platform, a TV show can be watched countless times and reach a practically unlimited audience. And the very perception of the series is nonlinear: authors have lost control over how their works will be watched. Unlimited audiences and multivariant broadcasting attracted huge investment in the TV shows that have now become an output that literally floods us on a daily basis. Naturally, streaming platforms with paid memberships emerged that, in their turn, evolved into major producers of series (Netflix). Paradoxically, with all the mass popularity, the perception of the shows is strongly individualised. This is the second social direction, which I deem to be even more important than the economic one as it directly reflects on the society and each individual. Or perhaps it would be more accurate to say that the screen reflects the society? In contemporary dominated by estrangement society, series become an outlet and replacement for communication at the same time. That is what we will see looking at the prevailing TV shows in American mainstream, whiche serves as a global model. The emblematic Westworld series (2016-) that has recently gained huge popularity provides a good case study of the described trends.

  • Issue Year: 2020
  • Issue No: 2
  • Page Range: 36-40
  • Page Count: 5
  • Language: English, Bulgarian