Small Screen is the New Mainstream

The demise of film and the rise of TV

By Becky Wreski

Movies are my bitch-lover. They provide me with bursts of entertainment, two-hour rushes jam-packed with character development and creative plotlines, climaxing with the same action scenes I’ve seen 300 times. Yet I always go home after a suspenseful ending to a three-hour big budget goldmine bust to lie in bed with my trusty old tube.

Today, TV beats film like a wild banshee beats a four-eyed tourist: hard.

The American Film Institute (AFI) updated its “100 Greatest Movies” list in 2007. Only 14 movies released between 1980 and 2007 made the countdown. Maybe sex and special effects didn’t impress the Academy. Obviously, AFI’s list isn’t an end-all-be-all list of great movies (here’s looking at you, Tootsie), but it does show a trend in entertainment. The past 20 years of movie-making produced lackluster shit—TV, on the other hand, has only gotten better.

What I’ve come to expect from major blockbusters, I now get right in my bedroom (for a lot less of my allotted beer money). When the economy died and ticket prices rose, especially in the IMAX and 3-D fields, movie-goers strapped for cash downsized to the small screen. It’s understandable since big-name, big screen actors, producers, and directors create some of their best content for TV—hello, Tom Hanks and Martin Scorsese on HBO.

Today’s writers deliver smarter content. We’ve come a long way from Saved By the Bell. Shows like Mad Men, Breaking Bad, The Good Wife, and Southland help people avoid the admittedly awesome movie theater popcorn, because these shows are simply better written than any JumboTron Terminator reboot or Rudolph-toting holiday family flick.

Movies give me a quick fix, but I’ll always come back to my TV. It’s convenient, it’s cheap…and it satisfies. Besides, I can make my own damn popcorn.

Illustration by Tate Chow