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Television’s golden cage

The growing intellectual currency of television has altered the cultural conversation in fundamental ways.  Reuters The growing intellectual currency of television has altered the cultural conversation in fundamental ways. Reuters
By: New York Times | Updated: March 11, 2014 12:49 am

BY: David Carr

An explosion in quality programming induces pleasure — and guilt.

Not long ago, a friend at work told me I absolutely, positively must watch Broad City on Comedy Central, saying it was a slacker-infused hilarity. My reaction? Oh no, not another one.

The vast wasteland of television has been replaced by an excess of excellence that is fundamentally altering my media diet and threatening to consume my waking life in the process. I am not alone. Even as alternatives proliferate and people cut the cord, they are continuing to spend ever more time in front of the TV without a trace of embarrassment. I was never one of those snobby people who would claim to not own a television when the subject came up, but I was generally more a reader than a watcher. That was before the explosion in quality television tipped me over into a viewing frenzy.

And what a feast. Right now, I am on the second episode of Season 2 of House of Cards, have caught up on Girls and am revelling in every episode of Justified. I may be a little behind on The Walking Dead and Nashville and have just started The Americans, but I am pretty much in step with comedies like Modern Family and Archer and like everyone one else I know, dying to see how True Detective ends. Oh, and the fourth season of Game of Thrones starts next month. Whew. Never mind being able to hold all these serials simultaneously in my head, how can there possibly be room for anything else? So far, the biggest losers in this fight for mind share are not my employer or loved ones, but other forms of media.

My once-beloved magazines sit in a forlorn pile, patiently waiting for their turn in front of my eyes. Television now meets many of the needs that pile previously satisfied. I have yet to read the big heave on Amazon in The New Yorker, or the feature on the pathology of contemporary fraternities in the March issue of The Atlantic. I am a huge fan of the resurgent trade magazines like Adweek and The Hollywood Reporter, but watching the products they describe usually wins out over reading about them.

And then there are books. I have a hierarchy: books I’d like to read, books I should read, books I should read by friends of mine and books I should read by friends of mine whom I am likely to bump into. They all remain on standby. That tablets now contain all manner of brilliant stories that happen to be told in video, not print, may be partly why ebook sales levelled out last year. After a day of online reading that has me bathed in the information stream, when …continued »

First Published on: March 11, 201412:47 amSingle Page Format
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