With our insistence on the binge, it’s a bit odd how television works nowadays. People straight inhaling episodes of ‘Breaking Bad,” with some of the most ardent fans hopping on the bandwagon right now, just as we’re about to reach the long-awaited conclusion. Same goes with “Friday Night Lights”–another “we, as people who care about ratings, hate this” high school drama that's now dominating those “10 Shows You HAVE TO Watch on Netflix Instant” listicles. Which again, despite getting the universal adulation now, was nearly cancelled on multiple occasions. Lest we mention the unquestioned divinity that is “The Wire,” which–huge gasp–almost got the axe as well.
There are a bunch of reasons for this trend. One, people who write about shows and also use big words have decided we’re in this “Golden Age of Television,” meaning every series and their oft-ignored step-sibling has the potential to be great because (a. it’s “from the creator of XYZ,” and (b. there are now more outlets to create smart and engaging content. College kids who bought $200 economics textbooks might realize this something with supply and demand–just like there’s always been a million attractive girls just inching to hook up with your markedly unimpressive ass, there’s now a shit ton of “quality” television shows. And even if your postgrad life looks like this, chances are the daily #grind isn’t exactly going to let you waste all your time binging on more than one show. Basically there are too many “good” options, and just not enough time. Watching a show then, which inevitably says something about you as a person, becomes a much bigger investment.
It’s weird though considering 2013, because bloggers who write articles like this one will tell you that we’re living in the land of instant gratification. Statuses need immediate liking, tweets need favoriting, and why (with like seven more y’s) haven’t they texted me back? This certainly won’t be the only thing you read on the internet you read all day, and if you’ve suddenly gotten curious about “Freaks and Geeks” creator Paul Feig, you could look him up on Wikipedia. So there’s this large-ish disconnect between what we want as creators of content (particularly millennials, which again, articles on the internet apparently have decided we all want everything now, and all need to be rich and famous. I blame Good Charlotte.), and what we've created as consumers–allowing for this virtually endless oversaturation of ideas, content, and the general availability of high quality shit–all of which makes the barrier of entry terrifically low, but the barrier of recognition scarily high.
You talk to parents, wizard-robe wearing elders, and other wisdom-bearing souls, and the narrative is always the same–work hard, put yourself in situations to get dope opportunities, don’t be a total douche, and things will probably work out. Yes and no I think, because there’s some factors at play that people even 10 years older didn’t totally have to deal with–namely, this whole slightly hilarious (but admittedly, a thing) #personalbrand shit. It sort of matters, insofar as:
1. Anyone who is a person and says things is basically saying the same thing over and over again, with only slight variations to their overall “this is me, and this is how I approach shit” model. For example, a lot of the stuff Paul Feig says in “Freaks and Geeks” is pretty evident in a later work of his, “Bridesmaids.” In many respects, Kristin Wiig’s character is just an older Lindsay Weir–just one small example, but they both have that “I’m really smart, but fuck could this world be brutal sometimes” mentality to them. Because of social media and the like, this stuff is now a lot more present, almost on a daily basis.
2. Instant gratification though (or really, the lack thereof), makes us easily frustrated. If you’ve ever written a knowingly clever joke in g chat, you’ll also know that the 30 seconds before they shoot you back with the “bahahahhha” is a remarkably stressful time. What if they don’t like it? Do you, as a person, suck?
3. In the working world, it's very tough to receive this sort of instant gratification. Namely because you just got here, and nobody really gives a shit until you prove yourself as one of the worthies. (which only really occurs when someone else needs something out of you.) But if you're used to getting that shit now, there's a chance you may pursue a path of extreme second-guessing and crazy adjustments. Because, you know, WHY THE FUCK AREN'T YOU LOOKING AT ME.
But that, my possible friend but most likely person I'd simply say “sup” to, is generally bad route to go down. Think of like that kid in high school who always was quiet, and then one day decided to wear all different clothes and try and fit in with some other group because he wanted to be cool. That shit was weird, and just uncomfortable for everyone involved. But most of all, it wasn't him. And he was a lot cooler, as every rapper will tell you, when he was “just doin’ him.”
4. In this world, in this economy,
in this gallery, to do anything that’s gonna make a long term impact, you’re probably gonna have to sit in the waiting room for a bit. It’ll be tough to stick to your guns as more and more people around you start getting called in for “appointments,” but you gotta remember what exactly you came here for. And that (a. each compromise will bring you to another, and another, and another, and (b. if you’re trying to get into the empire business, it’s all about the slow rise. That patience and a calculated rise leads to sustained success. Nobody may be reading your exhaustive television series bible now, but chill out for a second. If you really want to matter, it may take a decade or two.
5. No list is legitimate without at least 5 items. We all know this.