Well, another television season has begun, and here comes another spate of hour-long drama consisting of young, ethnically diverse, beautiful, somewhat confused people trying to make their ways in a world that doesn’t seem to understand how truly special they are as they interact in a police department, government office, fire station, law firm, hospital or dysfunctional family.
The characters in each drama are completely interchangable and, except for a few superficial setting-specific dialog terms and situations, these dramas are almost identical.
We see the same wrenching choices, the same loyalties and betrayals, the same heroes and villains (each possessing one, and only one opposite character tendency that makes them both more credible and acceptable.) Even the plot “twists” are formulaic and predictable. And why shouldn’t they be? They have worked for decades, selling us cars, soap, footwear, and even convinced some of us to re-mortgage our homes to lending institutions that we finally repaid and got off our backs.
Still, we watch all season, at least watch some of them, and eagerly anticipate next season’s offerings which will surely be better than last’s, mesmerized as characters who live our entire lives in eight or ten episodes emotionally feed us vicariously.
I suppose there are a lot of our needs being met and that explains the popularity of these carousel-like series of pap, and watching illicit love, familial betrayal, horrifying accidents, terrifying twists of Fate, inhuman behavior, crushing indifference and so on is much “better” than living them.
But, overall, isn’t it better to go bowling?