Ignorance in Bashing Television

OK, it’s time for a rant. Lately I’ve seen a influx of people bashing television. All kinds of people: directors, producers, blog writers, non-industry people, composers. The common thread these people are proclaiming is that television is “bad for you.” It “rots your mind, makes you brain dead, saps your creativity, is inferior to film.” 


My biggest problem is the generalization these (ignorant) people use to classify television. Not all shows are created equal, and they shouldn’t be lumped together in one category the same way all films should not. Television, like film, is an art form (even reality television). I’ve watched television shows that trump some films, and my favorite director (Joss Whedon) and composer (Christophe Beck) both came from television. You get out of television what you put into it, it’s called active viewing. If you sit in front of the TV, watching hour after hour of shows that you don’t remember by the time the next one comes on, or if you use television to procrastinate to the point that your dreams are passing you by, then yes, you’re wasting your time (and your life), and will have nothing to show for it. However, if you do the same thing but watch movie after movie on cable, how is it different? If you’re going to claim television is crap, then you should be prepared to do the same thing with film. There are shows I’m not interested in watching because I personally don’t procure any enjoyment out of them. There are also many, many movies that I feel the same way about. I don’t compare Apocalypse Now with American Pie 4; don’t compare Lost to Temptation Island. If you’re going to be ignorant about TV, you should be the same way about other art forms as well.

There are films that I love: American Beauty, Requiem For A Dream, Shaun of the Dead, Transformers, Amelie, Me And You and Everyone We Know, Training Day, Fight Club. There are things you can do in film that you can’t on television. But as a composer and viewer, I prefer television. There are shows that take me to the same places films do: Lost, The West Wing, Angel, Alias, Six Feet Under, Carnivale, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Gilmore Girls. Being able to connect with and watch these characters grow over the course of multiple seasons is rewarding to me, in a way that films sometimes aren’t. Most of my biggest influences as a composer came from or score television. I’ve heard television scores that are better than some films. I have the utmost respect for someone who can work 14 hours a day for 7 months of a season, with a small budget and (most of the time) no orchestra, scoring episode after episode, whether it’s “24″ or “Robot Chicken” (Sean Callery and Michael Suby respectively).

I’m not saying that everyone has to love television. But TV deserves some respect, and so do the people who pour their hearts and souls into creating it.