posted by Joe Anaya on November 24th, 2014

It is the best of times; it is the worst of times. It’s really a great time for television shows and an awful time for television shows. This era of television has seen the rise of groundbreaking dramas and the decline of Western civilization.

If the Golden Age of Television was in the 50s, this is the Platinum Age. There have been more brilliant television shows in the last 10 years than possibly, well, ever.

It all started with the seminal HBO series The Sopranos. And continues with HBO’s fantasy adventure Game Of Thrones. Despite winning 15 Emmys this year, the premium cable channel doesn’t have a monopoly on quality television.

AMC had Breaking Bad and is wrapping up Mad Men. FX has Sons Of Anarchy in its final season. Comedy Central has South Park, The Daily Show, and Colbert Report.

Because the stakes have been raised, the networks have a few shows worth watching. Anyone who’s had a family enjoys Modern Family. Even BBC/PBS has Downton Abbey and Sherlock.

And yet, despite all the top-notch talent and quality that gives me ammunition in the boob-tube argument, at the same time, there’s the vast wasteland that is reality television. Seriously, who greenlit Toddlers In Tiaras, Jersey Shores, or Keeping Up With The Kardashians?

Encouraging people to be mean to each other for their 15 minutes of fame is the lowest form of programming. All the Housewives Of anywhere throwing things at each other; all the hillbillies and rednecks behaving oddly, I’m talking to you, Here Comes Honey Boo Boo.

Couples’ Therapy isn’t even clever enough to come up with anything better than a working title. Any opportunity to put people arguing on television has a decent chance to get on the air.

In writing, there’s a saying that “conflict is drama.” But gratuitous conflict for conflict’s sake is not drama; it’s just boorish behavior. Networks are so desperate for content; they’ll put on anything that takes up 60 minutes of airtime.

But maybe that same need is the reason there are network executives willing to take a risk on a series about a school teach turned meth kingpin. So, the reason it is the worst of times is the same reason it’s the best of times. So, I guess I’ll take it.

File Under Mr. Cool