Channeling Society: Rebooting Television

When I was a kid in the early 80’s, “television” was something we did in-between bouts of playing outside until it was dark and winding our way through Jupiter’s Landing on the Commodore Vic-20. Television was something that we either watched Knight Rider or MacGuyver on, or played some classic Atari or Super Mario Bros on.

The Television (lets just call it TV from this point) was never something we sat endlessly in front of to fill our time. We didn’t have what seemed like hundreds of new shows to fill our eyes and minds with. We had maybe 6 shows that the height of TV popularity, with the rest going quite literally unnoticed. One of the most important aspects to early TV, was a simple concept:

Escapism.

When we watched Micheal Knight jump into K.I.T.T to go save the day, we could never imagine something so cool happening in real life. MacGuyver making an explosive device out of gum, mint tooth floss, a paperclip, and a match? Nothing in our wildest dreams could prepare us for that. How about the gang from Happy Days? We would have arguments as kids about how much cooler The Fonz was than Batman, Superman, or Hulk Hogan.

We watched these shows to escape to another world very different from ours, despite not knowing this as kids. As we grew up, TV became more action packed and serious. Gone were the days of Airwolf and the A-Team which, while action-oriented, had moments of comedy and levity that kept our kid-brains from being too scarred. TV when we were teenagers were delving into more serious fare, like Degrassi (the original, of course) and Beverly Hills, 90210.

Sure, we had sitcoms galore… but TV was starting to take a more adult turn towards the issues and scenarios teens were facing. Party of Five, Dawson’s Creek, and My So-Called Life. These were shows that most teenagers of the day watched, riveted by the stories and lives of the characters on screen that seemed to mirror some of their own experiences, worries, and concerns. TV was slowly becoming less of an escape and more of a socieital reflection.

The 2000’s brought us The Wire, Freaks and Geeks, Friday Night Lights, and even Veronica Mars. While some of the shows in the 2000’s had some comedy and genre-busting qualities, TV was now something that we weren’t quite escaping too… but becoming attached to as a way to try and cope with our own problems and situations, hoping these fictional characters had the answers we were looking for in our own lives.

Now in 2018, TV is starting to move away from its sometimes dark, definitely adult tones into something else: Retro.

People online have been complaining about all of the remakes and reboots of some of their favourite shows: X-Files had been resurrected for a couple more seasons. Will and Grace has come back. A reboot of Charmed is in the works, and even Murphy Brown is returning. I honestly believe that this is not going to be a bad thing, due to a side of this that people are completely missing. Something that society needs, not as a way to ignore what is happening in the world and the things affecting our lives, but as a way to maybe de-stress and distract our minds from the constant anxiety and fears we face every day:

An escape.

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