By Colten Kamlade, Senior Columnist
I don’t watch a lot of TV anymore. I’ve tried to get into action dramas like Hell on Wheels and sitcoms like The Big Bang Theory, but I always grow tired of them.
I used to love sitting down to watch a good show. There’s something magical about getting wrapped up in a blanket with a hot cup of tea and watching a story unfold. So what has turned me off of television? I believe it’s because TV shows have become darker, characters are nastier, and the subject material is depressing.
My parents raised me on Little House on the Prairie, The Waltons, and other classics. The primary focus of these shows is the moral development of the characters. There are struggles, and there isn’t always a happy ending for the protagonists, but they face each problem with an arsenal of moral convictions. At the episode’s conclusion, there is a sense that the “right thing” has been done. Modern television does not give us this satisfaction. Everything is morally ambiguous to the point that even protagonists are not really heroes, but anti-heroes. I don’t want to discuss whether this is good or bad, but to ask why this change has occurred.
I think that art often reflects the state of society. Battlestar Galactica mirrored the fear and paranoia that festered in the U.S. after 9/11 and the 2003 invasion of Iraq. I believe that current TV shows reflect the uncertainty that we feel towards world events. Characters like Rick Grimes from The Walking Dead and Tyrion Lannister from Game of Thrones are prime examples of this trend. Rick is volatile, unpredictable, and in some episodes, prone to hallucinations. Tyrion is vile in many ways, and yet he can’t quite be labeled a villain. In a time when it’s not clear what is true or false, what is right or wrong, such characters represent a generation of people who are not quite sure of anything.
TV has always involved some darker elements, but these dark elements seem to be the main focus of recent television shows. Even Riverdale, the new live action take on the Archie comics, involves murder. It’s not necessarily bad that writers are tackling more difficult moral questions, but I do miss the simplicity of older television. It’s comforting to know who the good guys are. In an age of uncertainty, I’m thankful that I can retreat back into the annals of television history.