TV Is In an Upward Spiral
Netflix's House of Cards the latest evolution in the golden age of TV
By Kevin Spak, Newser User
Posted Feb 7, 2013 1:52 PM CST
This image released by Netflix shows Robin Wright as Claire Underwood, left, and Kevin Spacey as US Congressman Frank Underwood in a scene from "House of Cards."   (AP Photo/Netflix, Melinda Sue Gordon)

(Newser) – Forget, for a second, that Netflix's House of Cards represents a bold challenge to HBO, a salvo in the war on cable. Instead, focus on this simple fact, writes Derek Thompson at the Atlantic: "The market for super-deluxe-high-quality TV programming is getting deeper." This is, as has oft been stated, the "golden age of television." As movies descend into mediocrity, chasing franchise money, TV is in a race for high-quality content.

This race started in cable, where networks don't need to draw mass audiences; they just need shows so good that their audiences will riot if cable packages drop them. The result is a race for quality, not mass appeal. Now, Netflix has calculated that it needs what HBO needed when it launched this whole model: Something to increase its value in the eyes of non-subscribers. Which "means there's even more money in the market for lavish television," writes Thompson. "For every House of Cards auction, there is another bidder. For every auteur, there is another hand shaking money in her face." The result: Even more great TV. Read the full column here.

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Showing 3 of 19 comments
Feb 10, 2013 1:45 AM CST
I've been watching TV since 1952, and in general TV has gotten worse, with a few notable exceptions. There were some great shows in the 1950s, such as Playhouse 90, World of Tomorrow, Sid Ceaser's Show of Shows, Ed Sullivan, et al. The population since then has more than doubled, and the number of TV channels has increased over 500 fold, but the amount of great writing and acting has not. I'm thankful for HBO and for Hulu and Neflix and other who have preserved access to older shows, while bringing us some very good original ones as well. My personal one from HBO was the miniseries Rome, and from Comedy channel "Colbert Report" and a few others like Monk and the Simpsons. So if you dredge the general swamp that TV has become there is some gold to be panned. But in the final analysis, it takes great writing and great acting to make for great entertainment. It takes talent, but there is just a finite amount of the latter. We have to understand that mostly TV targets the lowest common denominator to sell to. It's a massive wasteland that those searching for quality entertainment have to tread through to find edification.
Feb 8, 2013 10:58 PM CST
House of Cards is excellent.
Feb 8, 2013 1:35 PM CST
I've been watching TV for 50 years. Yes, this is the Golden Age. Especially if you can figure out how to watch TV from the U.K. "Utopia" is fantastic. "The Hour" is also great (I think season 1, at least, is available on Netflix.) Here's an embarrassing anecdote: About 20 years ago I took a group of kids on a field trip (I'm a teacher) that involved visiting a TV station with film/TV production facilities, studios, etc. Part of the tour included a session with a TV executive who talked to us about the future of TV. He predicted 500+ channels, and so on. I said, "It's kind of hard for me to believe that there's enough talent out there for THAT MUCH television." He immediately looked insulted and I felt like a moron. Turns out he was right and I was pretty much wrong, especially if you think "talent" might have played a role in figuring out that shows about choosing a wedding dress or buying a house or towing broken down vehicles or, apparently, ANYTHING could make for a successful, incredibly profitable television series. Makes me wish I had a time machine. By the way, some previous posters, no one's impressed by people who say, "I don't watch television. It's all crap." The rest of us are thinking, "You're just not doing it right."