Golden Age of Television (2000s–present)

In the United States, the current Golden Age of Television, or Peak TV, has been a period widely regarded as being marked by a large number of "high quality", internationally acclaimed television programs.[1][2][3][4]

Named in reference to the original Golden Age of Television in the 1950s, the period has also been referred to as the "New", "Second" or "Third Golden Age of Television". The various names reflect disagreement over whether shows of the 1980s and 1990s belong to a since-concluded golden era or to the current one.[5][6][7][8][9][10] Various sources have identified the beginning of the current period as the early 1980s,[11] the late 1980s-early 1990s,[12] the mid-to-late 1990s,[13][14] or the early 2000s.[15]

It is believed to have resulted from advances in media distribution technology,[5][9] digital TV technology (including HDTV, online video platforms, TV streaming, video-on-demand, and web TV),[16][5] and a large increase in the number of hours of available television, which has prompted a major wave of content creation.[17]

HistoryEdit

French scholar Alexis Pichard has argued that TV series enjoyed a Second Golden Age[18] starting in the 2000s which was a combination of three elements: first, an improvement in both visual aesthetics and storytelling; second, an overall homogeneity between cable series and networks series; and third, a tremendous popular success. Pichard contends that this Second Golden Age was the result of a revolution initiated by the traditional networks in the 1980s and carried on by the cable channels (especially HBO) in the 1990s.[19]

Film director Francis Ford Coppola thinks that the second golden age of television comes from "kids" with their "little father's camcorder", who wanted to make films like he did in the 1970s but were not permitted to, so they did it for television.[20]

The new Golden Age turned on creator-driven tragic dramas of the 2000s and 2010s, including Buffy The Vampire Slayer[21]and Oz,[22] which both first aired in 1997; 1999's The Sopranos[23] and The West Wing; 2001's Six Feet Under and 24;[24][25] 2002's The Wire[26] and The Shield,[27] 2004's Deadwood[28][29] and Battlestar Galactica;[30] 2005's Avatar: The Last Airbender;[31] 2006's Friday Night Lights;[32] 2007's Mad Men[33]; 2008's Breaking Bad;[34][35] 2011's Game of Thrones;[10][36][37] and 2013's House of Cards.[38] Others appear in the Writer's Guild of America vote for 101 Best Written TV Shows.[39]

OriginsEdit

The Golden Age of television is believed to have resulted from advances in media distribution technology,[5][9] digital TV technology (including HDTV, online video platforms, TV streaming, video-on-demand, and web TV),[16][5] and a large increase in the number of hours of available television, which has prompted a major wave of content creation.[17]

Stephanie Zacharek of The Village Voice has argued that the current golden age began earlier with network shows like Babylon 5 and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (both of which premiered in 1993), and Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997).[13] Will Gompertz of the BBC believes that Friends, which debuted in 1994, might stake a claim as the opening bookend show of the period.[14] Matt Zoller Seitz argues that it began in the 1980s with Hill Street Blues (1981) and St. Elsewhere (1982).[11] Kirk Hamilton of Kotaku has said that Avatar: The Last Airbender (2005) should be considered a part of the golden age of television, and recommended "the sophisticated kids show" to others.[40] With the rise of instant access to content on Netflix, creator-driven television shows like Breaking Bad, The Shield (2002), Friday Night Lights (2006) and Mad Men gained cult followings that grew to become widely popular. The success of instant access to television shows was presaged by the popularity of DVDs, and continues to increase with the rise of digital platforms and online companies.

The increase in the number of shows is also cited as evidence of a Golden Age, or "peak TV". In the five years between 2011 and 2016, the number of scripted television shows, on broadcast, cable and digital platforms increased by 71%. In 2002, 182 television shows aired, while 2016 had 455 original scripted television shows and 495 in 2018. The number of shows are rising largely due to companies like Netflix, Amazon Video and Hulu investing heavily in original content. The number of shows aired by online service increased from only one in 2009 to over 93 in 2016. John Landgraf, the CEO of FX Networks, has stated that the amount of television series being aired during peak TV could be overwhelming for the viewer to choose from, especially for critics obligated to review as many shows as possible, which results in a decreased output of television series in the future.[41][42][43][44][45][46]

Late eraEdit

An increasing reliance on rebooting and reviving existing franchises led to widespread belief that the Golden Age of Television was ending in the late 2010s,[47] with the caveat that some of these reboots (such as DuckTales,[48] Girl Meets World[49] and One Day at a Time[50][51]) share the positive reception and mature character development of original shows of the era. Viewership patterns in 2020 shifted rapidly toward reruns.[52]

Characteristics and criticismEdit

Characteristics of this golden age are complicated characters who may be morally ambiguous or antiheroes, questionable behavior, complex plots, diverse perspectives and often forays into R-rated territory.[53][54][55]

Genres of television associated with this golden age include dramas (especially ones originating on cable and digital platforms); sitcoms (especially ones that use comedy-drama which some critics would call "sadcoms"),[56] single-camera setup, or adult animation; sketch comedy (especially series linked to alternative comedy); and late-night talk shows (especially ones that emphasize news satire).

The era is not without criticism as the quantity of original shows being produced have some, like FX CEO John Landgraf,[57] worried about overwhelming the viewing audience.[58]

Notable figuresEdit

Showrunners
Actors
Hosts

Notable outletsEdit

Terrestrial networksEdit

Cable/satellite channelsEdit

International networksEdit

Streaming servicesEdit

Notable showsEdit

Past shows associated with the second Golden Age of TelevisionEdit

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

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External linksEdit