Television: The Greatest Art Form Ever?
I’ve never really written anything in a public forum before, so this is my first foray into the world of blogging. I thought that my first entry would be an article about why I think that television might be the highest form of art. Feel free to ignore my pseudo-intellectual rambling, but I truly hope that you enjoy what you read.
There are three things that I love about television.
The first is that television combines several distinct art forms into one incredible whole. No other medium allows people to tell stories as long and as well paced as a novel, while essentially being a high-end theatre production with musical accompaniment. As a musician, I take a very keen interest in a show’s soundtrack. When television is done right, it has the ability to transcend all other forms of art. It’s similar to how Wagner combined music with drama into what was called a “Gesamtkunstwerk,” which means something along the lines of “Total Art Work.” That may sound like a presumptuous comparison to make, but I guess that’s how deep my passion for television runs. This by no means implies that all television is anywhere close to the ideal; however, there are some shows that certainly find themselves near that terriotry.
The second is that television makes you think. When I say think I mean that the show tells a story that can be parsed for metaphors and thematic content. A lot of shows are well paced, well written, and can bring forth strong emotions (see the paragraph below), but they often lack that special something that elevates a show above the average. I think that this is worth noting because a lot of television doesn’t do anything of the sort. I can be moved without thought, but once I'm over whatever I'm feeling, it's nice to be left with something.
The third is that television moves you. Maybe you just witnessed the Grey’s Anatomy season finale and felt a great sense of unease and terror wash over you as a truly nerve-wracking episode went by. Maybe you watch Glee on a regular basis. Each week, the cast somehow lifts your spirits in a way that only a group of misfit kids with unreal real-life problems that are dealt with in song can. Maybe your favourite character on Lost has just died and you find yourself legitimately sad and, dare I say, crying inconsolably? If television can do that, then it has done it’s job.
On the whole, the emotional aspect seems to be more important than the intellectual. When I watched Across the Sea (Lost), although it made me think for hours, the hour of television itself didn’t truly move me. I wasn't particularly attached to the characters of young Jacob and young MIB and later on, when they had grown up, too much information was packed into the remaining half hour. Although the general experience of sitting around and thinking was very enjoyable, the hour spent watching was far less exciting. The best possible episode is one that combines both emotional satisfaction with a lot to think about. This may be why I absolutely loved the lost finale.
I hope you enjoyed reading my thoughts and thanks for your time! Next time I post, I plan on discussing serialised drama versus procedurals and more episodic shows.