Television is better than movies. It’s as simple as that.
At some point in recent years, TV surpassed movies in pretty much every aspect of visual entertainment.
Movies are still really entertaining. There is no doubt that I’m going to make my way to a theater this weekend to see the new Dark Knight film, but there is no way I would miss any of my shows for it.
The simple fact is: a lot of movies suck. Even worse, you can’t always tell when a movie sucks. Which means that when I go see a movie, I have to travel to a movie theater and spend astronomical amounts just to be trapped in a room with a bunch of strangers watching a film that I have to force myself to watch.
Meanwhile at 8PM tonight, if I’m not a fan of the Big Bang Theory, then I can just change the channel and watch True Blood, or a new episode of Duets, or even a new Anderson Cooper 360. I have so many options.
And now, television isn’t just a time-filler. For years, TV simply used to be a series of miniature movies with recurring characters and themes. They had old, over-used plots with mediocre actors. There were rarely any gripping subjects covered. And the production value was about as complex as a guy using a few lights, paint, a camera, and a garage.
Now, all of the best writers are far more excited to make a gripping series than a summer blockbuster. Shows from Newsroom to Breaking Bad address the tougher subjects that we face in every day life, and do it in an entertaining way that lasts for weeks, not just two hours.
TV has so much volume and variance that it makes it accessible to everyone. Now, instead of just that miniature movie format, there are countless types of shows that reach out to the full spectrum of audiences.
It’s become a wasteful rigmarole to create these meaningless films that cost astronomical fees, just for half the population to wait for it to go on demand.
Furthermore, I’ve heard they’re possibly picking up Ted for a TV series. Though I feel that would work, it only proves to me that TV is the dominant art form. The movie basically sparked producers’ minds as something people would tune in weekly to.
I think there’s something new and powerful in the experience of watching a TV show that has brought it closer to the movie watching experience. A gripping television show can bring my family together without any huge hassle. Television has improved to the classical standard of Aristotle’s poetics and covers basics to the minor parts of it.
There is a far more involved and beautiful plot to a series compared to a film (Mythos). Each character has time to go through a detailed development, including ups and downs and non-linear character arc that is unpredictable and doesn’t quite result in a happy ending (Ethos and Hamartia). Many shows have also incorporated what I consider to be the most important aspect of a great story; they show rather than tell. Nothing was better than Lost, when nothing was ever clearly told to the audience. It became a cult marvel to interpret the show's intricacies. Similarly, I feel shows like Homeland and Mad Men have been able to match the show’s symbolic weight.
On the other hand, many films can barely carry a plot and mainly focus on three parts of the poetics: Mimesis (imitation), Opsis (spectacle), and Catharsis (clarification… basically the sense that everything is resolved at the end of a movie). Just watch an action blockbuster.
Just like every art form, film and television ebb and flow. This is not the end of quality films and there is no need for panic. Media everywhere and art everywhere is constantly changing. As of now, for all the crap we see in the movies nowadays, we are lucky that TV has stepped up.
Keep up the love,
- Nick D