Television Tuesday :: 5 of happy television’s advantages

25 Nov

5. Because sometimes we want cheery things that won’t tire us out.
As evidenced by a fair amount of my media analysis, a lot of television is exhausting, emotionally.  Sometimes it’s fun to just sink into something goofy and smile and be distracted.  Look, objectively Agents of SHIELD season 2 had stronger writing than season 1, but which one of those am I more likely to want to rewatch a random episode of?

4. Because sometimes it’s easier to have likable characters on a show that isn’t all doom and gloom.
Here I am again to talk about my favorite television soapbox, Warehouse 13. The strength and charm of Warehouse largely comes from its characters: no-nonsense, good-hearted Myka, goofball Pete, mildly misanthropic Artie, girl wonder Claudia Donovan, considerate and by-the-book Jinks, and mysterious Ms. Frederic. The plots on the show, especially the artifact-of-the-week episodes, shine when they’re driven by the characters rather than dragging the characters into a plot. Even the sillier one-off episodes sometimes allow for really great character development. Warehouse wasn’t a plot-driven show at all – people watched because they liked the characters and enjoyed watching them have adventures. Which is not to say that’s not why some people watch more grim shows, but the nice thing about Warehouse was that if someone died, they could come back (…probably).  And take The Librarians, the epitome of silly fun.  Characters like arrogant thief Ezekiel and broody cowboy genius Jake would be miserable to be around on a more “serious” show, but since the narrative isn’t treating them too seriously they’re allowed to be fun or at least tolerable.  (Cassandra would be an angel princess no matter where she was, but that’s beside the point.)  Even the detour into Jake’s daddy issues manpain, while rife with cliches, was really only there to facilitate a larger plot point about magic and wasn’t played so dark that I’m never going to be able to look at him without groaning.

3. Because oftentimes less drama means healthier relationships.
Wistfully I ask, remember back in SHIELD’s goofy 1a for those few episodes when nobody was kissing or banging or flirting?  Remember when all the babies were constantly walking around with 😀 grins and supporting each other (and Coulson wasn’t such a jackass)?  I still feel more things about SHIELD than anything else I’m watching, but with increasing drama has come increasingly frustrating and unhealthy relationship permutations.  There are still healthy relationships (mostly in the form of ladies supporting each other and giving a damn about each other) but I sure do miss when they lived in a well-lit airplane and drank beer and played Scrabble and wore colors together.

2. Because not all television is for you.
I saw an review of Jessica Jones the other day that said something like “Marvel has obviously won this round over Supergirl,” and it’s been bothering me, because that argument ignores that they’re aimed at completely different audiences. Jessica Jones is for a distinctly adult audience, and is available only online, in a format that makes it appeal largely to an adult audience. Supergirl airs weekly on broadcast television at 8 PM, which is a timeslot for television aimed at families. The “family friendly” nature of the show has been heavily advertised, including having star Melissa Benoist visit the Girl Scouts of America and other child-centric organizations. There are dangerous situations, but so far there has been minimal death and pretty much everyone comes out okay in the end. And that’s important, because while some darkness is okay to show kids, there are some things that are just not for them, and that’s okay. Supergirl is kid-friendly, as is The Flash (generally). And that’s not a “failing” of the show, that’s just how they’re written. Kids like superheroes, and if every single superhero property is too dark or doom-and-gloom (hi, Man of Steel), well, what are they supposed to watch?

1. Because happy things are important too.
Lately, television in particular has embraced the mindset that Dark and Edgy Is Best, which, while not a bad opinion, becomes a problem when people act as if Dark and Edgy is the only way things should be, and anything that isn’t Dark and Edgy is automatically invalid or unimportant. Which I strongly disagree with. There’s a reason I can’t watch most of the popular shows right now – they’re bleak, they’re depressing, and they’re just not fun. I do not accept the thesis that shows must include death, torture, rape, and other terrible things that happen in the ~real world~ in order to be valid stories. Shows like Supergirl and The Flash, which feature protagonists who see the terrible in the world and want to fix it, and usually do fix it, those are just as important and valid.

–your fangirl heroines.


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