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The TV Rant: Clichés

October 6, 2015

Is it just me or does anyone else get tired of the number of clichés on contemporary TV today? If we aren’t bombarded with repetitive storylines or lost in procedural hell, we are subjected to American remakes of foreign shows.  They offer a provocative twist designed to distract viewers into believing that they are watching “must see TV.” I don’t know what cliché or storyline gimmick that I am more annoyed with “love triangles” or “cheating wife scenarios?” Why is it a habit of networks to offer the same prototypical plots, characters and limited views on characterization or creativity? I, for one, am just asking for them to think outside the typical TV box for a change.

Is it too much to ask that the TV Gods create more than one show that takes place outside its normal parameters? Would the world come to an abrupt or catastrophic end if a show happened outside of a hospital, courtroom or police precinct? I would love it if Caucasian families were not the composite focus of nearly everything on TV. We live in one of the most ethnically diverse societies in the world, yet we entertain ourselves on the same ethnocentric points of view when it comes to how we tell stories on TV. We add the occasional minority into a few shows, but we stick to the unwritten rule of one minority per cast.  If we have too many minorities on one particular show, it risks being labeled an ethnic show instead of just a show.

Another thing that’s becoming cliché is having a Gay or Lesbian character on nearly every show now. I’d dare say that this has taken the place of the token minority character, the homosexual is the new minority. The issue I have with the trend in creating so many Gay/Lesbian themes is that it seems insulting that these themes seem more P.R. than they do about real progress or acceptance. Is anyone concerned if whether Gay/Lesbian artist are getting these roles or are we just exploiting the concept of Gay/Lesbian characterization? It seems to me as if TV smarts want to congratulate itself for being “groundbreaking” but is this the case?

We may feel as if they’re giving homosexual characterization a voice in society, but has anyone noticed that nearly all of the Gay/Lesbian themes are in a comedy series? We can poke fun at Gays/Lesbians at their expense and exploit their themes but does TV care about homosexuals and their issues or do they just think they’re fun to mock?

I’m so tired of the agenda to push sex and sexual themes down the viewer’s throats instead of creating real intrigue or telling compelling stories. I weigh shows, especially what we deem as a good TV show, by whether or not it can be worth watching if you take the sex and nudity out of the equation. If you take the sex or the sexual themes away from Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, Showtime’s The Affair, Shameless or anything on HBO and does it have the same appeal?

While Breaking Bad and Sons of Anarchy were no doubt full of the violence and sexually explicit themes that some viewers crave, even the purest fan like me can appreciate them for being original! Shows like this come along and prompt others to adopt their formula. The only problem is they often lack the heart of the original and things just begin to revolve around similar themes with no real point. Whenever I hear “from the network that brought you….” I understand exactly what the new show is all about before I see a single episode.

ABC canceled Desperate Housewives only to give viewers Mistresses, a British remake that in itself is a carbon copy of Desperate Housewife themes with a slightly younger set of women! ABC canceled the stinker Betrayal only for Showtime to introduce a minute later the same damn story about seemingly happily married people who begin an affair in the backdrop of a murder investigation! Showtime offers nudity thus its show is considered a critical success. I swear if more people had as much sex in the real world as they are having vicariously through their TV and on the internet we’d have less war, crime etc… Just a theory.

The TV powers that be market sex, violence, and suspense to the public as a means of “escape” but is this the only foundation to base a story? What happens if you are the type of viewer that simply wants to watch a good story and aren’t trying to escape anything? I am capable of watching TV while remaining engaged in my thinking so why do writers repeatedly create the need to “suspend disbelief” to escape into a fictional world filled with the over-the-top scenario? Instead of creating so many clichés that often take away from an otherwise decent story why can’t we simply encourage better writing? Why not make characters that are capable of rational thought or do a few things that average people do just to shake things up a bit from the procedural, suspended disbelief haze we call entertainment today?

Would it kill a writer to have a few male/female partnerships on TV that aren’t doomed to be romantic pairings? Is it possible to have a credible marriage on TV that while it is not perfect does not end up in an affair or love triangle scenario? Can the Hallmark channel have at least one made for TV movie that isn’t about a woman hooking up and falling in love with a stranger on the weekend of her wedding? What about their affinity for film’s about a kid hooking up his/her widowed parent a few weeks after burying their dead spouse, are kids that interested in their parent’s sex life? Can we stop calling films about people having affairs “romance” or “love stories?” Hell, I’ve seen more romance on an episode of “Snapped” than some of the crap that gets pawned off as romance today!

Perhaps you label my venting the madness of an old fashioned prude, but I assure you that there is a method to my madness. My issue is about more than just my values or morals, the TV fan in me, the one who loves stories, is just tired of seeing the same old gimmicks and clichés on TV! It is not merely a solution of turning the channel because TV seems to cut-copy and paste the same stories using nearly identical cast and clichés in the process, it’s inescapable. Like the Howard Beale character from the 1976 film classic Network, I’m yelling at my TV “I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not gonna take this anymore!” I’m only hoping that a few of you are fed up with me.

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