The writers at The Alabama Take regard the past ten years as they now dwindle away: each entry for The Decade reflects on an impressive moment, good or bad, and its effect.
In the decade that almost is, every thing we would want is there — right there! — hovering, waiting in that larger-than-life box.
For those still with television sets (or computers) and ample streaming (or friends’ passwords), just find whatever show that scratches your itch and watch. Rinse and repeat. It’s a beauty. It’s wonderful! It’s instant satisfaction! The sometimes-too-niche programming stretches as far as the mind can imagine, all with great casts, great writers, great sets, great, great, great. (or at least good.) No longer the excuse of nothing to watch on TV. There’s a program for you out there. Every one of you.
While Peak TV is simultaneously mind bogging and exciting, it does have its drawbacks. A nostalgic piece of melancholia stemming from this decade of vast, never-ending TV is what could be the end mono-culture, those moments where we all gather around to take in the same show at the same time. It’s no wonder that sports are still high priced and successful for channels: a narrative that you can’t predict; you have to watch live.
The best thing to come from Peak TV, though, is that it has shut down television watching as its own competitive sport. Assholes loved to go online, particularly Twitter — the online armpit — where they would spoil anything they could just to piss off others. That boast was no conversation of art or its effect but a braggart’s moment. Now? That shit’s out the window. Other than aforementioned live sporting events, no one watches the same thing at the same time. No more “I got it before you!” I’m currently in the middle of watching Servant (Apple TV+) and I can’t tell one other person who’s watching it. Honestly, I can’t find anyone who watches much on Apple TV+ at all. And since Servant utilizes elements of horror and suspense, it’s fine that almost no chatter exists. I can watch, think about it on my own, and not worry if someone has binged it in the pre-dawn hours of Saturday morning early awaiting to say “Here’s what happened!” as if it’s some breaking bit of fucking news as I scroll through my feed. Some people really will do anything to be noticed.
My house recently took in the lovely Looking for Alaska on Hulu. I’ve seen no one beyond my wife and I measure its merits, a shame as it’s a darling of a program. The same with Castle Rock, also on Hulu, and Living with Yourself from the brand that started it all: Netflix. These aren’t the greatest shows by any stretch, but they’re good. They should get some discussion. These and many others don’t get that chance, though, due to the deluge. Everyone’s off in their corner of streaming.
Apple TV+, Disney+, and to lesser extent Hulu also do their part to develop workarounds to the binge-and-spoil culture by dropping shows on a specific date. For Hulu, that seems to be Wednesdays for their flagships, i.e. Castle Rock and The Handmaid’s Tale. Apple and Disney have, for some reason, decided that Fridays were the best; I’m assuming because it’s the weekend? What was once reserved for going to the movies, but alas. Another tale for another day.
With Peak TV, it’s a little too easy to bemoan the lack of the classic water-cooler shows. Game of Thrones seemed to be the last of a dying breed. Peak TV and streaming have taken away some of our connective tissue, sure. But at least the overwhelming number of specific programming has stopped the I-watched-it-first-and-beat-you-to-it, nerd-cum-jerk atmosphere. I always hated those folks.