Monday, October 29, 2012

Digging Deeper: Complicating Television

Digging Deeper: Complicating Television

It has not been since recently that I have started watching more television shows. Though mostly online, which is part of the reason I think television has grown and is becoming more complex. Part of the reason television narratives have become more complex is due to “the new technologies of home recording, DVDs, and online participation.” This has helped the media industry prosper into a new era of television.  Websites such as Hulu and Netflix have become popular because they have made it easier for people to watch television online. For example, it is easy to stream a show and don’t have to worry about not watching an episode out of order. Television “has shifted more toward viewer control” and must become more complex to keep up with the demand of viewers. In the past year I have watched television shows like Entourage, Mad Men, Breaking Bad and currently started The Walking Dead. These shows as well as the ones used as examples in Narrative Complexity in Contemporary American Television “ask us to trust in the payoff that we will eventual arrive at a moment of complex but coherent comprehension, not the ambiguity and questioned causality typical of many art films.” The content on television has become engaging and entertaining for the viewers. Nowadays because it is easy to access, viewers want to watch television that they can relate to or even watch a great story unfold.
 I think part of the reason I have started watching more television is because “many narratively complex programs are among the medium’s biggest hits, suggesting that the market for complexity may be more valued on television than in film.” Before I had no time to watch television or films. Now I can make time for television because services like Netflix offer stream television on demand. When it comes to television word of mouth is important because if your friends with somebody that you know your fairly similar with and they recommend a tv show, you usually take their advice and watch it. In my opinion the raise of TV on DVD has also increased a larger viewer base for television shows. As it gives viewers total control of when and where they want to watch an episode. I would only invest on buying the TV series on DVD if I thought it was worth it to watch the TV series again.
I was introduced to the fan resource Lostpedia by my chemistry teacher senior year. He was a “Lost” nut. He loved the show, he cried when the series ended and told us he was going to get a tattoo of something “Lost” related. Complete nut, but I guess he’s not the only one as similarly, “Birmingham-Southern College's January term has a class called "Lost: My Religion," which plays off the cult-hit TV series "Lost," that went off the air in 2010.” This made me realize that shows like “Lost” really do engage the viewers, as the producers put in small details in their complex narrative. This makes viewers go back and watch these scenes again and absorb them into the television series. Sites like Lostpedia break the show/episodes apart and give you the smallest details and how they are correlated.  As television shows with a complex narrative grow in popularity, this makes viewers want more and more shows that are alike. The viewer has a choice from different television series genres that gives the “audiences pleasure not only in the diegetic twists but also in the exceptional storytelling techniques.” I believe television has become more complex starting from the 90’s forward and will only increase in complexity of narrative in the years to come.

Sources: Mittel, Jason; Narrative Complexity in Contemporary American Television

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