Sunday, March 27, 2011

Block Party: Once Upon a Time in TV Land...

We're hosting a Block Party this week in an effort to get to know our blogger neighbors. First up is Lisa (aka The Blonde Blogette), a TV producer and reality television guru (and my good friend since approximately 1999). Thanks Lisa!

Who watched 30 Rock this week? The correct answer is, “I did!” (I will also accept, “It’s sitting on my DVR and I’m going to watch it as soon as possible,” or, “I’m watching it on Hulu right after I finish reading this.”)

Here’s why I love 30 Rock: it’s about Liz Lemon, the head writer of a TV show. And since Tina Fey created the show, writes for it, and stars as Liz Lemon, the series is mostly told from a writer’s perspective. And I love that! (Plus, it’s really funny.)

Because the show focuses on a TV writer’s world, it often addresses Liz Lemon’s fear of being out of a job as reality shows become more and more popular. This theme has popped up several times throughout the series, but last week’s episode took the idea to a new level, suggesting that writers may actually be going the way of the travel agent. As The Social Network and West Wing screenwriter Aaron Sorkin puts it to Liz in his cameo on the episode, “Our craft is dying while people are playing Angry Birds and poking each other on Facebook. What is poking, anyway, and why won’t anyone do it to me? I’m cool!”

There’s a lot of truth to Sorkin’s statement. And I can’t help but feel that this trend is being blamed on my generation and those to follow because we’ve made reality TV, celebrity news, and American Idol a part of our culture. Additionally, social networking has allowed us to immediately voice our opinions, judgment, and commentary on the shows and movies we watch. It seems unfair for a writer to sweat and slave over an original idea only to see it ripped to shreds by 17-year-old online commenters while some drunk, unscripted crazy-fest on TV gets another season for pulling in more ratings and revenue.

But scripted TV is evolving in that its creators understand pop culture itself is a language my generation speaks. It’s one of the reasons NBC’s Community is a hit; it constantly references other TV shows and movies, or even just popular genres of entertainment. Glee is such a pop culture phenomenon that in its second season, it makes references to itself. Both of these shows, along with 30 Rock, use a sort of meta-story format that allows the fictional characters to somehow live in the same world as the viewers. It gives the show a new level of relevance for my generation. These shows form a social community, which is what the next wave of entertainment is all about.

What do you think? Is a story more fun and entertaining when it’s relevant to your world as an audience? What about science fiction and fantasy? Let me know in the comments section!

Thanks to the fabulous Ink Slingers for inviting me to guest post on their blog!

Lisa ;)

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