When I had a TV subscription, my viewing habits were fairly simple. In the evening, I would put on the television and try to find a sporting event. If nothing of interest was on, then I would flip around the channels until I found something, but more often than not, I’d settle for a re-run of some show like Seinfeld. I never had the patience for channel surfing, so much of it went unnoticed and unwatched. Most of the time, the television was just background noise while I did something else like screw around on-line.
When you cut the cord, television watching becomes something different than the ever present background noise. If you want to watch something, you have to think about what you want to watch. Then you have to figure out the source. I’m an Amazon Prime customer so I have their library of movies and TV shows. I also have access to the dark underworld of pirate sources. The Kodi app for the Amazon Fire gives me access to television channels from all over the world. I’m spoiled for choice.
Anyway, since I have never been much of a TV watcher, I ask people for recommendations and then find a source for them. Someone I know has been binge watching a program called The Walking Dead. He told me it was OK. I had some vague recollections about it from a few years ago. A bunch of people started writing about the best tactics for dealing with a zombie attacks. There was probably a National Review article on the conservative case for surrendering to the rage zombies.
I downloaded the first season and I can see why people like it. You can’t think about the zombies as they make no sense. The claim is a virus turns the dead into walking attack corpses, but that’s silly. The human body starts to decay at death, so in a few weeks, the zombies would have fallen to pieces. A supernatural explanation, like the war skeletons from Jason and the Argonauts gets around that problem, but I’m not the target audience for this stuff. Maybe the writers don’t want to spend time on the science of zombies.
The funny thing about that though is the novel that kicked off the whole end times plague genre had a simple solution that would probably make the story better. I Am Legend used a disease that turned people into something like vampires. They were still alive, but they just liked killing people and eating them. The cause of the vampire-ness was a blood disease. There was also an evolutionary angle as not all of the infected became murderous ghouls. Some retained their humanity and their faculties.
Doing some research on-line, I learned that the show is very popular and has a devoted following, even after seven seasons. I’m only through one season, but I can see why people like it. Most of our video entertainments are just poorly disguised lectures about how white people suck and men are terrible. This show is just a good drama for adults to enjoy with their kids. The men are men and the women are women. More important, the writers seem to respect the male and female characters by writing them properly.
For some reason, the show reminded me of the series Justified that was popular half a dozen years ago. That was another show that was just good old fashioned drama aimed at adults looking to be entertained. The fact that Hollywood is able to make these sorts of programs means they make the PC crap on purpose. It’s not that they are just a bunch of moonbats making what they like. It’s that they really want to make lectures so they do it as often as they can. These normal programs are happy accidents that pay the bills.
That last part is probably a huge driver for Hollywood. One of the things you learn when you go off the grid for your TV is that there is a lot of crap produced every year. I have an app that let’s me scan through all movies released by year. I bet most people have not heard of 90% of them. Anyone heard of Lazer Team, released last year? How about Doris, staring Sally Field, who I was sure was dead. How is that people allegedly good at making movies cannot see that these are terrible movie ideas? How do they get made?
The most likely answer is the business works on the theory that if they can get financing for a project, they make it, even if it is hilariously stupid. It’s like the venture capital business. The winners pay for the many losers. As a result, even dumb ideas like a King Arthur movie with black guys as the knights gets made. Of course, the fanatics who want to make lectures are driven to get the financing so they can deliver their lecture. That’s why so much of what is made looks like a deliberate insult to the intended audience.
That’s the other strange thing about all the terrible shows is that Hollywood has a massive amount of data on audiences. They use this to market test all sorts of things about movie and TV projects. Big budget movies are now written by committees, that include marketing people and data analysts. It seems like the obvious step is to use the data to determine what is worth financing. There can be no model that says a movie like Catfight has a chance to earn enough to pay for the camera rentals.
Maybe that’s what’s over the next hill as people cut the cord and the business model begins to unravel. The music business had to adapt when digital technology broke up their oligopoly. Maybe a similar thing will happen with video. We’ll get fewer shows, but they will be driven by market research, rather than the whims of studios. Or, maybe they just pay everyone less and keep pumping out crap movies like the Brothers Grimsby. As long as there are suckers with money, Hollywood will be happy to take their money.
One final thought on this topic. For those thinking of going off the grid for television, be prepared for your viewing habits to radically change. I found I watch less sportsball than when I had a sub. Even the limited effort to find a sports stream is enough to have me looking for other things to do in the evening. On the other hand, you will binge watch a series, which means spending a rainy weekend on the couch watching a full season of a TV show. You watch less, but more, if that makes sense.