As a common pastime in the U.S., television plays a monumental role in the lives of everyone.
As a continuation of my first storytelling article focused on film, I would like to shift my focus to television. Everyday, broadcasts are created to either educate us on the world we live in or entertain us by allowing the watcher to escape their world and enter a new one.
As early as the 1820s, the concept of the television began to take shape. Shortly after the turn of the century, several American laboratories at GE, Bell and RCA began to build the TV we know today. In in the 1930’s, static transmissions of music, dance, and even wrestling were shown on prototype sets. However, at the 1939 World’s fair RCA unveiled its new NBC studios in Rockefeller Plaza. The television network system had finally been revolutionized.
Fast forward to today where there are over 50 national broadcasting networks. NBC, ABC and CBS are at the top of the food chain with the highest ratings and the most well-known shows
Television is different from film in that it can be drawn out. For example, the story of a movie is only told over — roughly — a two hour period, whereas a television show’s overall story can be told over several season, and subsequently several years, with plot-developing stories contained in each episode.
But like with most things with entertainment, these rules can be broken in a way. This is the case with most “anthology” shows. Programs like Black Mirror are anthology shows where each episode is contains its own story but is completely unrelated to the episode that precedes it and the one that follows it.
Some shows like Modern Family, The Middle,The Simpsons, and South Park are somewhat in between an anthology and a continuous show. Each episode has its own story, but all of them connect to the same group of characters. Today, these seem to be the most popular and most apparent types of shows
Just like movies, TV shows have several different styles like live-action, staged (sitcom), and animated.
Below is my Top 10 list of TV Shows
10. The Middle (2009-)
The daily mishaps of a married woman and her semi-dysfunctional family and their attempts to survive life in general in the town of Orson, Indiana.
9. Key & Peele (2012-2015)
Project sees Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele in front of a live studio audience bantering about a topic weaved between filmed shorts and sketches.
8. Saturday Night Live (1975-)
A famous guest host stars in parodies and sketches created by the cast of this witty show.
7. Under the Dome (2013-2015)
An invisible and mysterious force field descends upon a small actual town of Chester’s Mill, Maine, USA, trapping residents inside, cut off from the rest of civilization. The trapped townspeople must discover the secrets and purpose of the “dome” or “sphere” and its origins, while coming to learn more than they ever knew about each other and animals too.
6. The Man in the High Castle (2015-)
A glimpse into an alternate history of North America. What life after WWII may have been like if the Nazis had won the war.
5. Black Mirror (2011-)
A television anthology series that shows the dark side of life and technology.
4. Better Call Saul (2015-)
The trials and tribulations of criminal lawyer, Jimmy McGill, in the time leading up to establishing his strip-mall law office in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
3. Bob’s Burgers (2011-)
Bob Belcher, along with his wife and three children, try to run their last hope of holding the family together, which is running Bob’s dream restaurant.
2. Stranger Things (2016-)
When a young boy disappears, his mother, a police chief, and his friends must confront terrifying forces in order to get him back.
1. Breaking Bad (2008-13)
A high school chemistry teacher diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer turns to manufacturing and selling methamphetamine in order to secure his family’s future.
Now, Top 10 lists are just a matter of preference, but there is a really strong case as to why Breaking Bad should be at the top of everyone’s list. First off, its all-star cast. The dynamic, drug-making duo of Bryan Cranston (Walter White) and Aaron Paul (Jessie Pinkman) made the show just simply entertaining to watch. Not only were the characters intriguing on a basic level, but they were deep, well-developed, and layered. The whole cast goes under some form of transformation throughout the series adding new motives and reactions to the events that play out.
Another aspect of the series that makes it supreme is its tactful use of cinematography — mainly POV shots. Whether the camera is placed behind a gas mask, at the bottom of a tub or looking down the barrel of the gun, the camera tells a story through unique viewpoints and aspects.
Both film and television can tell stories. with television being more readily available, and less expensive, than film, however, TV shows have become an easier nexus for people to connect and seem to be something that everyone can enjoy due to their shorter time frames. Either way, television and film serve as the popular storytellers of the 21st-century, and we wouldn’t live in the society that we do without them.