1/26/11

Are we alone in thinking this?

The Hubster and I have about given up on television, there just seems to be a general 'dumbing down' going on. We are not claiming to be any smarter than the next person, but we like to watch something that has a modicum of worth or entertainment to it.

But it's hard to find a program maintaining strong storylines, or wit, or originality, or good old fashioned entertainment anymore.

It seems television executives have decided the public deserve an endless supply of reality shows, usually showcasing the freaks of society, or those famous for being famous and not much else! Sorry but I am not interested in the self promoting untalented Kardashians, or Hugh Hefner's girlfriends, or a group of alcohol fueled wannabe's from the Jersey Shore. I am even less interested in celebrities eating bugs in a jungle, who the next Bachelor won't stay with, or listening to housewives in various cities bitch about each other!

But the 'drama' programs are not much better. Three years ago I watched Desperate Housewives, it was funny with good leads, but then it got ridiculous and two years ago I quit. It took the Hubster another season before he gave up, but after a tornado, a plane crash, arson, plus the odd murder it was beyond a joke. And yet ongoing great shows like ER, 24, Boston Legal and The Unit were dropped!

We have a particular issue with ABC. They are the worst for starting a show and then dropping it after a season or two. They replace good new family or legal drama's, with shows about aliens amongst us and humans with superpowers, yet more 'dumbing down'!

Our second gripe with ABC is their need to have a token gay couple in almost every show and then show them in very intimate situations. I accept there are gay couples, I have first hand experience in my immediate family and have no issue with this.  But enough already! I don't need to see it close-up on my 44" screen to know it goes on! I feel the same way about too much slobbering by straight couples too, whatever happened to subtlety?

So we find ourselves watching less television, using Netflix streaming and watching channels like Nat Geo, History, PBS, Discovery and HGTV. Many nights we just turn the rubbish off and read instead!

There are a few programs we still enjoy. We watch four drama's: Private Practice, Fringe, The Good Wife and Masterpiece Theater, which is currently Downton Abbey. Our purely for entertainment programs are: Hawaii Five O, Kitchen Nightmares, American Idol and Cake Boss (we love Buddy Valastro).

Another indicator of standards dropping are the dodgy British hosts popping up on American programs. Sorry but in all cases except Len Goodman, these are actually the 'c' list dregs of British TV.

Larry King's replacement Piers Morgan was a much maligned newspaper editor known for sleaze in the UK. It's quite beyond most of us Brits why he is a success over here, but they're glad to be shot of him back home!

So I am interested, are we alone in feeling like this?

Because if you just went by what's popular on television, we are rapidly becoming a nation of intellectually challenged idiots!

"The media can wreak great harm on the family when it offers an inadequate or even distorted vision of life, of the family itself and of religion and morality."

Pope John Paul II, May 2004

27 comments:

Rusty said...

Not to mention what seemed to be endless adds. I gave up watching TV about four years ago. Don't miss it at all. (OTOH Blogging can be just as addictive).

It seems these days most programs seem to be about all the nasty ways one can slaughter and destroy!

Totally boring.

CambridgeLady said...

As a Brit who lived in the USA we just about gave up on TV there. Truly dreadful. I love the BBC in the UK - BBC Four and Two are especially good for science, natural history, history and current affairs. And the drama series tend to be better than American ones IMO - more thoughtful and less about special effects and killing people - not to mention the lack of commercial breaks :). There is dross, of course, but there's usually plenty on. Can you get the iPlayer there? Or is it still restricted overseas?

Amy said...

You are definitely not alone. I could have written this post myself. It's the worst couple of years I've seen. I watch PBS, a lot of the history channels, Fringe on Fox, a couple comedies and that's about it. It is really awful. I get the feeling a lot less people are watching TV anymore, and are watching shows on Netflix, on demand etc. Maybe that's why the shows that take some braincells fail. There's not enough people with braincells watching them. And yes, the ads are terrible.c

Brit Gal Sarah said...

CL no iPlayer is still restricted sadly.

Amy we also watch Fringe on and off, it's pretty good.

Pam said...

Luckily, there is usually an NCIS re-run on, or one on our DVR. It is our show of choice these days. Now, after a hard day at work (!) I do enjoy mindless television (American Idol, Project Runway, AGT), but I'm with you and just can't watch anything to do with NJ or Housewives. Have mostly given up on sit-coms. Am sick of Gordon Ramsey too, but watch him just because nothing else is on. The Amazing Race is a fave fave. But Downton Abbey at the moment is like finding the Holy Grail. The quality of the script and the actors is just genius. Maggie Smith is beyond incredible with a subtle raised eyebrow and biting comment. It is witty, intelligent, well acted, locations are gorgeous, the COSTUMES are divine, it has everything. I am already dreading it coming to an end.

Inconsequential Man said...

Absolutely. Sadly it's what gets viewers. Even the History channel has more reality shows than actual history. Even little things like changing the name of a channel from National Geographic to just NatGeo stinks of dumbing down.

The only show I really watch with any regularity is Jeopardy and sometimes that could do with dumbing down, or maybe I should get smarter!

Yogi♪♪♪ said...

I have totally agree with you Sarah. None of the regular shows interest us at all any more. So Heather watches HGTV and I read or play scrabble on my ipod or do my blogging thing. Plus the other problem is that there are not that many G rated shows any more and we are very careful about what we expose Logan to and don't really feel like telling him to leave the room. We kind of enjoy his company.

We still like Survivor, Heather likes American Idol and Dancing with the Stars. Logan and I are big Amazing Race fans. Heather and I have been DVRing the PBS Masterpiece series you blogged about earlier.

We have over 150 channels but very little to watch.

Expat mum said...

Even BBC America is rubbish. 12 hours straight of bloody Gordon Ransay during the day, out-dated Top Gear in the evening. The news is great and Law & Order, UK but that'a about it.
I don't watch anything in the evening except a bit of CNN news, which is more like sound bites than anything else.

gigihawaii said...

The only shows I watch on TV are the NFL (pro football and the Super Bowl) and the NBA (pro basketball and the Natl Championship). I don't have the patience to watch reality shows and dramas/comedies on TV. As a matter of fact, I rarely watch movies on Netflix and at the theaters.

David, on the other hand, is a TV and movie addict!

Sherri said...

Sarah, John and I agree with you! We watch alot of Netflix movies and now we have a Roku box to watch movies, tv shows, etc. I truly do not appreciate seeing people "pee" on TV. Alot of the shows seem to be showing these bathroom scenes and truthfully we are sick of it! You are right about ABC dropping goods shows and showing less and less intelligent shows. I guess that is why books still continue to be popular and of course, my knitting!

Linda Reeder said...

It's not new. We're just older and wiser. there has always been mindless junk on TV. and do we really think Ozzie and harriet and Leave It to Beaver were realistic depictions of average family life. I wish!
I don't watch the alien or reality or supernatural shows. I'm not much on any of the half hour sitcoms anymore. I do like Antiques Roadshow and Masterpiece on PBC, and these comedy/drama shows - Brothers and Sisters, Chuck, Castle, House, Harry's Law (new), Parenthood, Good wife, Bluebloods, Gray's Anatomy, Private Practice. Some of these are back to back, so we record them to watch during the blank times. We also watch at least an hour of MSNBC news and commentary, and record John Stewart's daily Show to watch at an earlier time the next day. When all else fails, there's always The Home and Garden Channel.

Gaelyn said...

I lived quite well for two years and no TV. Then about a month ago we hooked up the TV that came with the new RV to that box thingy and have more choices than I know how to deal with. Mostly junk. But thank goodness we get 3 PBS choices, as long as the antennae is pointed in the right direction. The shows have gotten junkier and I'm seeing the same commercials.

Star said...

We agree with you Sarah. That's one of the things I really miss over here - decent TV programmes. We mostly read, listen to the BBC on my new wireless speaker, which I can take everywhere I go in the apartment or read books.
Larry loves his Kindle. I don't have one, yet.
So totally agree with all you said.

Star said...

ps this time, when I came over, I came armed with some DVD's for us to watch. That way we get NO adverts and we can pick and choose when we watch them and for how long.

Rare Lesser Spotted said...

I wholly agree. TV in the UK fries your brain. Some of the monority interest channels run by the BBC are ptretty good for documentaries which exercise the imagination and challenge beliefs and perceptions, but by and large the increasing number of US crime drama programmes particularly is mind numbingly purile and does nothing but sow the seed of a fear of crime in the back of the mind.

Iota said...

We cancelled our cable subscription when we went to the UK last summer, and on our return, decided to try life without it. Our 10 year old said, a few weeks later, "why did we have cable in the first place?" It's a lot of money, for very little entertainment.

Like you, we're increasingly using Netflix. At the moment, we're watching Doc Martin, and it's great. It's just not so nice to be sitting in our office in front of the computer, instead of on comfy sofas in front of the tv. I think tv is going to have to shape up, to compete with all the other media entertainment available in the 21st century (from my point of view, at any rate).

The word verification is baggiest!

Iota said...

We miss BBC America a little, but even that isn't nearly as good as it was when it first launched. Way too many commercials, and endless repeats of Gordon Ramsay (as Expat Mum says) and How Clean is Your House. Who cares how clean someone else's house is?

Brit Gal Sarah said...

Iota, you know if you have a Wii console then you could stream Netflix onto your tv and be comfy again!

Linda J. said...

I watch the Food Network and the Weather Channel on the few occasions my TV is turned on.

George said...

Believe me you are not alone. There are very few current television shows that we watch. The good thing is that this leaves more time for reading.
Thanks for expressing what many of us feel.

Kay said...

I totally agree with you, Sarah! We are relying more and more on our Netflix now. We are also reading more.... and blogging.
:-)

Betsy from Tennessee said...

George and I are TV-aholics. We do not watch reality shows or those stupid comedies --or even those Desperate Housewives-type drama. BUT--we still enjoy many of the dramas. Here are some of our fav's (many of which are on TNT or USA cable networks).

-The Closer
-Leverage (great character-driven drama)
-White Collar (another great show)
-Castle (the ONLY ABC show we watch)
-Law and Order: SVU
-Criminal Minds
-The Good Wife (great show)
-Blue Bloods (great show)
-NCIS and NCIS: LA

Well--that's enough... Guess you can tell that we can still find something which 'we' love to watch.. We love character-driven shows. Whenever they quit showing these kinds, we'll quit watching TV I'm sure.

Hugs,
Betsy

Frostbite and Sunburn said...

You've already mentioned three that we like (Fringe, Good Wife, Private Practise) - a couple of other people have mentioned Blue Bloods - that is proving to be very good indeed.

Downton Abbey has been a little star - and although not usually a fan of supernatural beings - have you seen Being Human? Brutal, very witty, scary - just very British humour.

You haven't mentioned Spooks but if you can download that or get a job-lot for a bargain price somewhere, invest the time in all the series (could take you a while!).

It's the ad breaks that make watching TV in real-time too painful to contemplate!!

My guilty pleasure is What Not to Wear ...

Linda Zoldoske said...

I gave up tv about 3 years ago. I mainly use it now to watch dvds (mostly British BBC). Just finished 'Doc Martin' - great! - and have the first series tapes of Dr. Findlay and Downtun Abbey to watch next. I do occasionally watch Masterpiece Theater or some special but have dropped even the latenight television because after stopping and then coming back to tv, you really notice how much of latenight is devoted to ads!

Laura, Happy Homemaker UK said...

I feel the same about children's programming and Disney movies!!

Michelloui | The American Resident said...

I am always disappointed when I visit rellies int he States as see the dross on TV. There are the occasional good programmes--especially on PBS (And no, I dont just mean the British imports!) and they shine out even more. I have to say since Ive lived in the UK (20 some years) the quality here is going downhill as well. I am soooo fed up with reality tv shows!

Dee @ Red Dirt Ramblings said...

Amen! I'm sick of it all. I do love Downton Abbey. It's wonderful, but we've been renting a lot from Netflix. We watched Babette's Feast last night and Food, Inc. a few days before. You'd think they would get the hint.~~Dee