Article by Rob Leary – House PR, London
What a time to be alive for TV addicts and serial-series watchers. There just isn’t enough time in the day, the week or even the year to watch all the brilliant series that are churned out across UK terrestrial stations, internet based streamers such as Netflix, Sky based channels and various US channels such as HBO. It seems that just as one good series finishes, another begins and it’s taking over the lives of many of us in the UK.
Go back 2 or 3 years and I barely turned on the TV or watched anything on my laptop other than football or space documentaries to relax to (good old Brian Cox, Discovery Channel and the likes!), but like the masses I am now truly addicted to dedicating hours of my week to series after series. This year alone has seen some amazing productions that really push the boundaries of TV’s preceding years – be it Humans, in my opinion Channel 4’s best TV drama series since the excellent Utopia, which unfortunately was not recommissioned past a second series – or the dark storylines of Bloodline,Hannibal (season 3) and Breaking Bad spin off Better Call Saul. Not to mention the ever-brilliant, controversial and brutal Game of Thrones (season 6) and Sky Atlantic’s addictive series Fortitude, whose story-line made the week long waits in between episodes tormenting. I could go on listing… and this proves the point that there is just too much good TV!
Series are the talk of the village, town and city. They are the go-to conversation for a variety of different aged Brits, and provide perfect date-night conversation-fodder to get you through to date 2. So why are they so popular and why do we spend hours tuning in? There are many reasons…
Arguably over the last 5 to 10 years the shift from watching TV on just a TV to a laptop/tablet/iPad has made a huge difference – you can watch anything, wherever (wifi dependent) and whenever you want, and without having to have a DVD player, the ability to pause your TV or a chunky video (old school). This shift has allowed writers and producers to push the boundaries of TV further, the 9pm watershed is broken, and scenes have arguably got much more brutal and raunchier at the same time – which attracts a whole new crowd of its own to start watching.
Secondly I would argue the standards of acting & scripts are getting better and better, the budgets are growing (you only have to see Game of Thrones’ movie-like production cost), and the filming equipment used & the graphics are improving by the minute, all resulting in series being aesthetically beautiful regardless of content.
Furthermore, you only have to look at True Detective (season 1 & 2) to see the level of actors that are ‘stepping down’ from the big screen to work on series – Matthew McConaughey, Colin Farrell, Rachel McAdams and Vince Vaughn to name but a few of the stellar cast. This means the public don’t have to purchase a cinema ticket to see their favourite actors anymore.
Lastly, there has been a change in accessibility to viewing series in one go, which has revolutionised how series are presented. For example Orange Is The New Black have recognised the growth in people mass-watching in one go and now put full series out all at once – allowing their watchers to view it all in one long ‘Sunday-session’ and not endure the week breaks – and why not? This will undoubtedly be a much more common way of streaming series in the near future and I expect to see further titles released in this way.
Although I must add the downside of a series being hurried out is that as a watcher you lose the anticipation. Don’t get me wrong, I dislike having to wait a week or longer to find out what happens next, who killed who or ‘is he/she actually dead?’, but the wait is also what keeps it even more exciting. In modern times Breaking Bad is the best example of this, taking a 6 month plus break in the middle of season 5 whilst it’s watchers we’re left to ponder what would happen. I’d suspect direct TV releases will follow the usual format in terms of weekly releases for a good while to come, but with the growth of Netflix and Amazon Prime, who have the ability to pump out series in one go, it’ll be interesting to see if this’ll change on a wider scale rapidly.
All in all, there are many more reasons as to why we are living in the age of the TV series. It seems a shame that many great series probably go unwatched due to the amount of them being churned out, but it’s a great time to be alive for people like me who enjoy a good story line to get stuck into! …and with new series of Homeland, Fortitude, American Horror Story, Bloodline, Humans (and many, many more) all announced, it’s looking like more hours of my life are going to be sat watching TV rather than getting outdoors…