Monday, June 15, 2015

All Hail "The Feels": My Current Fandom TV Schedule. And Sports.

I watched the fifth season finale of Game of Thrones on Sunday. I have read all the currently released A Song of Ice and Fire books, so the big shocker in the finale was not shocking at all. (I started reading the books after the TV version of the Red Wedding, so the Red Wedding was probably the last time I was surprised by the show.) I was a bit surprised by the stuff that's not in the books, or perhaps will be in the next book, but overall I find the show enjoyable.

I like to lump Game of Thrones with similar shows into a super-genre called Fandom TV. Plot holes, infidelity from the source material, and other random silliness are excusable in the storytelling form of Fandom TV. The goal of Fandom TV storytelling is to elicit what the folks on Tumblr call "The Feels."

Making the audience laugh, cry, angry, joyous, etc., is -- and should be -- the ultimate goal in this storytelling form and medium. Fandom TV is an emotionally manipulative medium, but it is not malevolent or evil, as long as the audience knows they're in it for The Feels. I'm in it for The Feels.

I am aware that many fans -- especially on Tumblr -- take their consumption of media beyond whether there were Feels or not. I understand and agree that serious critiquing is a perfectly valid form of media consumption. Personally, I'd rather be entertained by the boob tube and process all the heavy stuff for actual persons, places, things, ideas, and events that exist outside of the boob tube. But that's just me.

Here's my current schedule for Fandom TV, with shows that are currently in production/broadcast/streaming. Canceled shows and completed shows do not count. There are also sports in this schedule because sports -- team sports, especially -- are Fandom TV shows by default and by definition. Cheering and jeering for well-paid players of games? Nonsensical and Feelsy! That's Fandom TV, all right.

Anyhow, starting in Late Spring / Early Summer ...

Late Spring / Early Summer: Orange Is the New Black (Netflix). I could binge-watch the entire new season, but I don't have the time. I'll try to watch a new episode every few days or so. It took me almost a year to watch the previous season. Orange is the only realism-based comedy/drama in my current list of shows that I watch. As you'll see, the rest are fantastic, err, fantastical -- fantasy shows.

Late Summer: Doctor Who (Amazon Video or Google Play). I know that the Doctor and his companion's adventures are broadcast on BBC America in the US, but I don't have that channel. I don't have cable, so I usually buy the episode the next day.

Early Autumn: It's almost unbelievable that Supernatural (The CW) is going to start its 11th season on the air. That's the power of Fandom. I also try to watch Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (ABC), but the enjoyment is optimized when a Marvel Cinematic Universe movie is somehow tied to the show.

Mid-Autumn: NBA Basketball season starts, but the ca-ca-cable companies took my local sports teams away.

Late Autumn: I only really get hyped about NFL Football around playoff time, but Los Angeles will hopefully get a team soon, so we'll see about getting excited about football sooner.

Early Winter: Marvel's Agent Carter (ABC), a period piece, is slightly more enjoyable that its modern-day counterpart. I might give the Marvel Cinematic Universe Netflix show(s) a chance, sooner or later.

Mid-Winter: Vikings (History). As long as the History Channel streams new episodes of Vikings, for free, the day after, for everyone -- I'll be happy. These days, the increasingly obsolete cable companies are forcing networks to restrict the "free" (interrupted by commercials) streaming of their shows. Usually, it's the day after for cable subscribers, and the week after for everyone else.

Early Spring: It would have been time for Dodger Baseball, but again, the cable companies had to choose easy short-term profits over long-term innovation. That's a euphemism for the inevitable extinction of the traditional cable TV business model.

Mid-Spring: Game of Thrones (HBO Now). I have to remind myself to cancel auto-pay for HBO Now, until the next season of Game of Thrones. My Netflix and Amazon Prime subscriptions are sufficient for year-round streaming. In any case, in the spirit of the sixth season, and the hopeful release of The Winds of Winter, I shall paraphrase a verse from the Bible, Ecclesiastes 9:5 -- You know nothing, Jon Snow.

Those are the only shows I watch for The Feels, if short-term memory serves me well. Recently, I watched Resurrection (ABC), but I think they might have canceled that show. In years past, there were shows like Lost (ABC) and Breaking Bad (AMC but I binge-watched on Netflix and bought then-current episodes on Amazon Video). Decades ago, there were shows like The Simpsons (Fox), Friends (NBC), and Seinfeld (NBC). Yes, I am aware that Homer and company are still on the air, but Fox, or whoever owns The Simpsons, should just edit short gags and jokes from past episodes, and upload those short clips on YouTube. They could make all sorts of extra money from ads and views and ads and ads. Non-official Instagram accounts have uploaded 15-second clips that basically tell an entire Simpsons joke, to great effect.

In conclusion, shows come, and shows go. I've watched enough TV to not be shocked by anything on TV or in a movie, and/or I read enough George R.R. Martin books to not be shocked by anything in general storytelling. I don't watch reality shows, except perhaps a random episode or finale of Dancing with the Stars (ABC). The first two seasons of Survivor (CBS) were enough for me, as far as reality TV goes ... and game shows, too.

Speaking of game shows, I read recently that American Idol (Fox) will wrap production soon. Good riddance. Idol tried (and somewhat succeeded, sort of) in saving pop music's money-making ability, post-Napster -- but they pretty much ruined the tastes of mainstream audiences in the process. You can't run an entire industry on Photoshopped faces and Autotuned voices -- or can you? It takes talent to have that "powerhouse" vocal sound, but when that's the only vocal styling that's marketed (and marketable) across multiple genres of popular music, then it gets a bit tiresome and ironically generic.

The only news worth watching, in my opinion, are sports scores and weather forecasts and traffic reports. And human interest stories because, you know ...

The Feels.

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