Recently, I sat on my couch watching the last several minutes of the Season 2 finale of the HBO show Game of Thrones, and it was like Christmas morning. My jaw nearly dropped to the floor watching the epic and brilliant show. But then came the bad part of Christmas Morning, the part when it was no longer Christmas morning.
I realized I’d have to wait the majority of the year to see more, but maybe it’s not such a bad thing. There is definitely something to say for quality over quantity in TV shows.
Television is an interesting storytelling medium because different types of shows are made in different ways. In the past, , shows were not made to have very continuous plotlines for a variety of reasons.
The first reason was that audiences in the early days were not as educated about different filmmaking styles. Although most don’t have formal educations about filmmaking, the hours of television and movies they have watched during their life makes them keen to pick up on the filmmakers’ suggestions, themes, and attitudes that are necessary for a complex plot. As an audience today, we have a much more defined view of realism and style which allows us to explore more complex and mature themes and content.
Another reason was that, until recently, it was difficult to watch an episode of a show that you missed.. Today, a variety of technological means,legal and illegal, allow you to keep up with television shows that require continuous viewership, even if you miss them when they first air.
Ever since these two problems were solved, shows with continuous and complex plots have become common, and traditional sitcom-like shows whose episodes have self-contained plots have become rare.
This is for a variety of reasons:
There are some shows, like Seinfeld or Friends, that have self-contained plots, and others, like Game of Thrones, whose plotlines operate like really long movies. The problem with having your plot operate like a movie, is that you are actually expected to maintain a certain level of quality for the show to be enjoyable. People often say things like “Oh man I wish they weren’t making an Anchorman sequel because I liked the first one so much and it will probably ruin it.” But when is the last time you heard someone say “Gosh, I wish they would stop making new seasons of 30 Rock.”
Although the dilemma of quality vs. quantity is ever-present in the world of television shows, the different types of shows give the viewers a wide variety of choices that make the medium even more enjoyable.