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An Anton Ali Pop-Ed: Where Has TV Gone?

I was sitting on the couch recently running through the channel lineup, and it really got me thinking about the lack of original programming on TV these days. Growing up, I didn't really have an issue with finding something good to watch. Maybe it's the amount of "space" they have to fill with the hundreds of digital channels that are out there now, but if we look at just the major networks, it really seems like everyone is starting to get lazy. Don't get me wrong, there are some still some good shows out there, but what was once the many has now become only a select few.

The term "reality TV" is clearly a term that we hopefully all use loosely. Kim Kardashian's sex tape is one thing, but Keeping Up with the Kardashians' most recent E! Network deal for a three-year show extension is worth a reported $40 million. Rumors of the show's authenticity has been swirling for years, but you probably don't need to spend too much time trying to crack the secret. Duck Dynasty is another recent TV wonder these days, but it has also been said that producers have scripted much of the show. I know. You're not supposed to take these shows seriously. At the end of the day, it's entertainment, right? But it seems unfair that shows like Breaking Bad have to play on the same TV.

There's a little bit of an upside though. The lack of quality scripted television on the major networks has paved the way for growth in the development of cable television. FX and AMC probably have some of the best shows that are (or were) on television. Louie, Justified, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia and American Horror Story are some examples of critically acclaimed shows that all reside on FX. The success of this channel has led to segmented programming on multiple channels — it's nice to see that. AMC had Breaking Bad, of course, and also has another fan favorite, The Walking Dead. Mad Men is an acquired taste, but it's another award-friendly show. This isn't Two and a Half Men award-friendly we're talking about either. Strong acting from most of the cast, high-quality writing and production value makes all of these above shows worth watching.

Reality TV will likely continue to be a mainstay in today's world of programming. The cost to produce original scripted television isn't cheap, and the flooded marketplace of channels doesn't help in attracting (and retaining) prized viewers. The more rudimentary approach to producing reality television keeps the risk relatively low. Not all reality TV is bad, but we have to draw the line somewhere. You know what spurred this article? Alaskan Women Looking for Love.

Oh boy, we're in trouble.

Contact Anton Ali on Twitter at @AntonRAli.
An Anton Ali Pop-Ed: Where Has TV Gone? Reviewed by Anton Ali on 11/06/2013 Rating: 5

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