Originality Takes a Back Seat as Television Mimics the Movies

If you thought your TV was a safe haven unsaturated by comic book adaptations, think again.

Culture writer Vincent Mancuso laments television's lack of originality in this piece up at New York Observer. Sure, this being the so-called "Golden Age" of television means that we've got great shows built on original concepts like Breaking Bad and Mad Men. But so much else is based on tried-and-true faces, formulas, and franchises. And that bothers Mancuso:

"Television quality has no doubt changed recently - overwhelmingly for the positive, mind you - but how so? Let’s take a look at the majority of shows generating buzz for Fall or recently getting greenlit: Gotham, Constantine, The Flash, Daredevil, Teen Titans, Supergirl, iZombie, etc, etc ad infinitum. 

Adaptations, spinoffs, re-tellings. Familiarity, familiarity, familiarity. Comfort. Being able to say 'oh I’ll watch that as TV, it was really good as that other thing.'"

In a way, Mancuso is accusing television of chasing the bait that has served Hollywood so well in recent years. Sure, if you live in New York or L.A. you have the opportunity to see indie and art house films whenever you like. For everyone else, the menu selections are almost wholly adaptations, sequels, and remakes. Is this the direction that television is trending toward?Mancuso thinks so. He points out that even "original" shows tend to feature established stars or be headed by familiar showrunners. Any new debut that doesn't fit the paradigm meets a swift end. To Mancuso, it's all becoming "security blanket" entertainment.

Of course, the counterpoint is that television has always been a security blanket. For example, very rarely has traditional sitcom structure been tinkered with over the past 70 years. Multi-camera shows like The Big Bang Theory and Two and a Half Men are popular because they play by the same rules that Lucy Ricardo and Jack Tripper did generations before. Things are this way because, as the numbers will show, it's what the people want. A television is a mirror. Stare into the screen and you'll see but a reflection of the society tuning in. 

So perhaps Mancuso's gripe isn't actually with the shows, but rather the audience. It's an interesting thing to think about. What say you?

Read more at New York Observer 

Photo credit:  BrAt82 / Shutterstock

​There are two kinds of failure – but only one is honorable

Malcolm Gladwell teaches "Get over yourself and get to work" for Big Think Edge.

Big Think Edge
  • Learn to recognize failure and know the big difference between panicking and choking.
  • At Big Think Edge, Malcolm Gladwell teaches how to check your inner critic and get clear on what failure is.
  • Subscribe to Big Think Edge before we launch on March 30 to get 20% off monthly and annual memberships.
Keep reading Show less

Why are so many objects in space shaped like discs?

It's one of the most consistent patterns in the unviverse. What causes it?

  • Spinning discs are everywhere – just look at our solar system, the rings of Saturn, and all the spiral galaxies in the universe.
  • Spinning discs are the result of two things: The force of gravity and a phenomenon in physics called the conservation of angular momentum.
  • Gravity brings matter together; the closer the matter gets, the more it accelerates – much like an ice skater who spins faster and faster the closer their arms get to their body. Then, this spinning cloud collapses due to up and down and diagonal collisions that cancel each other out until the only motion they have in common is the spin – and voila: A flat disc.

Trauma in childhood leads to empathy in adulthood

It's not just a case of "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger."

Mind & Brain

  • A new study suggests children who endure trauma grow up to be adults with more empathy than others.
  • The effect is not universal, however. Only one kind of empathy was greatly effected.
  • The study may lead to further investigations into how people cope with trauma and lead to new ways to help victims bounce back.
Keep reading Show less
Photo by Alina Grubnyak on Unsplash
Mind & Brain

Do human beings have a magnetic sense? Biologists know other animals do. They think it helps creatures including bees, turtles and birds navigate through the world.

Keep reading Show less