With shows like Game of Thrones and Breaking Bad commanding everyone's attention with their shocking twists and incredible characters, it is becoming increasingly evident that TV reigns supreme as the go-to medium for superior storytelling. Most high-profile movies aim to wow, but they usually go about it in the wrong way. They'll hire perfect 10s and hunky meatheads, blow a bunch of shit up, throw in skeletal plot lines and shitty dialogue that even a four-year-old could whip up, and shove it down viewers throats while screaming, “Love me because I'm beautiful!” And yes, I just described almost every Michael Bay movie. But that's usually how it goes down, and that's a damn shame. Television shows like the aforementioned titles repeatedly prove that engaging characters and raw emotion snag the ratings and the fans, while effects and a cast of all beautiful people should come second.
Don't get me wrong. I love movies, and will probably never kick my habit of attending Thursday night showings of any flick I anticipate will be fun, even if I'm the only person among an audience of crickets. Several releases from the past two months (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and Guardians of the Galaxy being the big two) have coaxed me out of my apartment and into a comfy, slightly moth-eaten theater seat, cheerfully reminding me that movies can still be amazing AND have a ridiculous budget. But even as I'm enjoying these flashy, fun, star-studded pictures, I can't shake off the feeling that it's unnecessary. Yes, Guardians of the Galaxy was a shitload of fun and I've seen it four times. And sure, some TV shows fall into this same trap and only have stunningly beautiful yet criminally shitty actors and actresses. However, it isn't nearly as common and nowhere close to as blatant or in your face.
Whereas movies usually have a budgetary advantage, TV shows have an even better asset: time. The very structure of one season of a television show allows for much more character development, suspense, and, most importantly, margin of error. If a director screws up a two-hour movie and it bombs at the box office, that sucks for them. The director will have to lick his wounds, maybe disappear for a while, and try again when he's ready.
With TV shows, the game changes completely. Say your show has been picked up for a 22 episode season by a popular network and the first handful of episodes just plain blow. Ratings may plummet and scathing criticisms may be thrown around, but you still have time pick up the pieces and save the show. Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. immediately comes to mind as a perfect example of how quickly a show can get its shit together. The pilot and most of the following episodes lacked excitement and emotional investment, resulting in a show that could have been over before it really even started. Then Captain America: The Winter Soldier stormed into theaters and shocked viewers with its devastating repercussions, repercussions that carried over into Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. With these consequences came interesting new story arcs for the show's most disappointing characters (lookin' at you, Agent Ward) and bold new twists that basically forced audiences to tune in every week. Every episode after that delivered the energy and excitement the show so desperately needed, even throwing in some emotional weight to balance out the sometimes mindless action.
And on top of all of that, TV shows are becoming more fun for me. I love the weekly cliffhangers and the excited, sometimes fan-girly (yeah, dudes can fan-girl) discussions that inevitably follow, and I love the gradual build to the season finale. Now, my excitement for watching a season or series finale in my living room rivals and sometimes surpasses the excitement I feel towards attending a big blockbuster premiere in a theater full of sweaty people who reek of popcorn and cheaply manufactured butter.
Anyway, I think I've made my point clear. TV, keep up the great work. Movies, step up your game.