You Are What You Watch
People frequently tell me that, as an aspiring TV writer, I’m lucky to be living in the “Golden Age of Television.” And from a work perspective, they’re absolutely right. I certainly hope to benefit from the money and freedom and opportunities being given to elite showrunners these days. But from a fan perspective, I really don’t watch much TV. Not nearly as much as I should. There are so many prestigious or cool shows that I should be following, but I just can’t make myself be interested. I consume less TV than any of my non-writer friends, and I often have to force myself to sit down and watch a new show.
Now, I’m certainly not suggesting I’m more productive than anyone else. I just find myself watching older entertainment. I consume a ton of 90s multi-camera sitcoms, 40s screwball comedies, music documentaries, and a multitude of other strange media. But aside from Billions, Barry, Russian Doll, and a few other shows, I don’t keep up with a lot of the current stuff.
For a while, I thought this was a huge problem. Obviously you need to pay attention to the industry you work in. But as I thought about it more, I realized that it might end up making me a better creator. When you look at the insanely great artists throughout history, nobody was trying to copy people around them. Bob Dylan was listening to old Civil War-era folk songs and sea shanties when nobody else thought it was cool. Then he applied what he learned to a contemporary songwriting style and won a Nobel Prize for Literature. Damien Chazelle was watching old MGM movie musicals when nobody else thought about them, and he ended up making La La Land. Quentin Tarantino spent his entire childhood watching obscure 70s revenge movies, and he turned out alright.
I’m not trying to sound like some hipster who doesn’t like anything current. I’m always trying to make myself watch more new TV. But I’ve learned to cut myself a bit of slack. Nobody succeeding in entertainment right now is doing so by copying others. They follow their own unique interests and develop their own voices, then apply it to the industry as it currently exists. So I’m not going to lose sleep over the fact that I have no interest in watching Atlanta. I’d much rather put myself in a position to create the next one.
Student, blogger, uninterested new show viewer