TV?

This is an incomplete list of TV shows I have started, then not finished out of lack of interest:

Boardwalk Empire

Breaking Bad

Game of Thrones

Hannibal

Mad Men

I watched at least a season or two of most. I even got invested into some of them. I didn’t finish any of them. As a matter of fact, I haven’t watched all episodes of any non-comedic show in at least five years. We’re living in a Golden Age of Television. The New Yorker, stuffiest literary bastion of all, dedicates a considerable amount of real estate to think pieces and positive reviews of Broad City, Mad Men, and the lot.

I can’t seem to give a shit about anything on TV. I watch a show like Boardwalk Empire and I love the period set design and costumes, the nuanced characters, and the solid acting, but it’s just a story. It’s a great story, absolutely. You can superimpose some kind of external literary narrative on it, but there’s nothing else in there but the story. The writing serves the purpose of the story, the characters are round and compelling -good, interesting characters- but the only thing they do is to serve the advancement of the story. A show like Hannibal is visually and aurally beautiful, but the writing sucks -badly- and like everything else it obsesses over plot, sacrificing all else on the altar of narration.

Narration is a wonderful thing. We are homo narrans as much as we are homo sapiens but the power in a story comes from more than just it’s plot. In the most powerful stories I’ve read this year narration serves as a means to a point rather than the point itself. Books like “Wolf in White Van” and stories like Tobias Wolfe’s “Hunters in the Snow” use narration as a focus, telling us something larger about life or people or the relationships between in a powerful, novel way. Narration is employed and abandoned as needed, and the only TV show I’ve seen that even approaches this is Louie. The Golden Age TV makes the journey itself the point; there is no destination.

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