|AllSaints Spitalfield's Chic Rock 'N' Roll Fashions|
can text and, from the latest news, various governments are funding companies to use those texts against various ‘radicals’ and ‘dissidents’ after governments have been overthrown so that the post-revolutionary Reign of Terror can begin far more quickly and efficiently. Yes, it’s happening in those various North African and Middle Eastern countries that were part of the democratic “Spring” that began around this time last year and continued into the spring. And, of course, if it can happen there, don’t think it hasn’t already happened here. The other cultural signifier that Andersen ignored is that television has a wider range and quality of programming than ever before. We might not like the same shows, but I bet we can find more shows to like than ten years ago and most certainly twenty years ago and much of it is by channel brand. There are History Channel junkies, Bravo devotees, HGTV aficionados, and as many sports channels than Heinz varieties. (One curlicue is TVLand, which proves Andersen’s theory. It was always a rerun channel. Last year, it started original programming and, though Hot in Cleveland is cute, all of the original series could have played in around 1989 and done pretty well in the ratings for CBS back then).
So, let’s hop into the Miata and travel back to the ‘90s – 1994 to be exact – in care of the Sundance Channel that has been replaying My So-Called Life. It is timeless in both recalling the first Clinton term and unconsciously commenting upon the state of the teenage and family show genre as it has exploded on channels like ABC Family and the reality soap opera that was invented by MTV in 1992 with The Real Word, now a lumbering dinosaur of bad manners in a culturally
diverse society, and its newer incarnations such as Jersey Shore, even worse manners in a society so parochial, moronic, and myopic that it’s almost like an American looking-glass version of a Taliban wet dream, and Teen Mom, a testament both to where bad manners can lead and the need for universal birth control to be an immediately available option for adolescents.
|Jersey Shore Cast|
My So-Called Life, though it could have turned into a soap opera, is more than a few steps above the earlier mentioned ‘fare’ because it was a scripted fictional show that did not run even a full season. Because of this, it has a rounded life as a narrative and a completion that makes it more attractive to analyze more deeply. Has there been any graduate work done on the Edward Zwick/Marshall Herskovitz shows (thirtysomething, My So-Called Life, Relativity, Once and Again)? All were set in midwestern cities, except Relativity, and featured mainly middle-class characters that were ethnically and religiously diverse, struggling with self-awareness in the context of families, friends, and work. They also featured honestly rendered gay characters. The shows were wry, intelligent, and had a great look – sort of a post-Bauhaus look in the work scenes and Arts & Crafts at home. All had low ratings that were blamed on either poor time slots, too much navel gazing, or a tone and texture that wasn’t as obvious or as mass accessible as the house styles of other shows of that period produced/created by Bochco (smart, randy, loudmouth cop or legal shows), Kelley (eccentric, quirky, stunt cast legal shows), or Wolf (almost shadow box meditations on up-to-the-minute tabloid crime cases).
|The Cast of My So-Called Life|
The mature family show genre hopped on to premium cable with The Sopranos, Queer As Folk, and Six Feet Under. The family/workplace drama was taken up by FX and AMC with offerings such as Rescue Me, Mad Men, and Sons of Anarchy. None of these were or are ratings blockbusters, but can you imagine TV in the last twelve years without them?