With the New Year Comes a Need for Fiction
by Amy Lignor
America’s TV culture has changed over the past few decades. What used to be the mighty thirty-minute sitcom has mostly disappeared. And now, drama may be headed right down the very same path.
Don’t get me wrong. There will be those TV shows coming early in 2016 that will spotlight the men and women with badges who work far too hard and put their lives on the line. There is always at least one TV show to do just that. This time, there are even mega-stars already in the show, as opposed to unknowns who became household names because of their roles. It is Jennifer Lopez who will star in “Shades of Blue” in January. Perhaps it will end up that singing is the career she should concentrate on most, but viewers who are die-hard fans of those CSI’s, Law & Order’s, NCIS, etc., can become truly loyal to the “blue” once a new show begins. We’ll just have to wait and see on that one.
And, yes, there are gazillions of those supposed “reality shows” continuing to air on all stations. Of course, the reason these are loved so much is because they are as far from reality as you can possibly get. I think we all agree that the “real” housewives in any location have a very thin grasp on what “reality” actually is.
But what is the largest sector to have taken over the airwaves? And why? A sector that actually shows no signs of stopping anytime soon? Well, it’s absolute fiction. The distant lands; the characters that are found in the most famous novels of all time, yet have been resurrected and updated to become modern marvels. Maybe it is the power of “Star Wars” and that Millennium Falcon re-appearing once again to take flight, but the fantastical is what all Americans seem to want to grab and hold on to as tightly as possible. You can’t really blame the culture. Reality is everywhere, and people are sick of it.
Just think: when “Once Upon a Time” was offered up, most laughed. They thought it would be a dumb show aimed at their daughters, and nothing more. But adults ended up flocking to the show like birds needing sustenance – a welcome break from the real world.
Sherlock Holmes has never been as famous as he is now, yet he is actually played by an American actor. Watson is a woman, and their team has a dynamic that has made people fall in love with them. Another famous fictional character to become a huge fan favorite is Ichabod Crane on “Sleepy Hollow.” A sci-fi, no-way-that-would-happen storyline has old Ichabod on a new path that fans are drawn to, because it is a complete escape for the mind. “Sleepy Hollow” allows everyone to go “out there,” which is exactly where people want to be.
Sound too easy? Not at all. Think about this: when speaking of “out there,” FOX says that the truth still is, and millions of watchers are drooling over the fact that the team of Mulder and Scully will be back in business very soon. The “X-Files” returns, offering the completely hard-to-believe conspiracy theories that will have people glued to the TV. Proving once again that watching this “out there” fiction is taking the sting out of reality.
Jack Bauer in “24” was a thrill…at one time. FOX (the station that heralds “Sleepy Hollow” and the “X-Files”) always receive the most thrilled fan base because they think outside the box as often as possible. But in 2015/2016, “24” is too close to reality. It was action-packed – it was the bad guy getting his due delivered by the hand of one person. Unfortunately, terrorism is now an everyday occurrence, making “24” a show that would be too hard to sell now.
So…since FOX wants a bad guy who is completely unbelievable, they are tossing out Lucifer to the nation. Seems a funny Lucifer will be that next bad guy fans fall in love with. Why? Because this is one “bad guy” who we know. He is not a terrorist. He will be portrayed as more of a pain who likes to get into trouble, which is fiction we can stand.
And the “good” side of things will even get their own naughty character in 2016. An angel who likes to spout perfect sarcasm played by an actress that is sorely missed on TV. God knows CBS needs a real hit, and Jane Lynch of “West Wing” fame is certainly the woman who can bring it to them, playing an angel named Amy who is bound and determined to make herself known to viewers.
Bottom line, people are tired. They do not need more drama in their daily lives. And ending the work day by sitting down in front of the TV and watching news that makes most everyone sick, just to then watch more drama, will not be the path for 2016.
The culture has spoken: Fiction is in.