We’re ready to give these trends the boot as we head into a new year.
2016 was a great year for TV, but there were a few trends that need to go…
1. Bury Your Gays
Killing off characters in long-running television shows is a pretty common practice, but it seems that LGBT characters of shows are the ones killed off most frequently. In a study done by Autrostraddle, they found that over 170 lesbian and bisexual characters had been killed on tv, while only 18 were given a happy ending. In the span of thirty days this spring, four different lesbian or bisexual characters were killed off on their respective television shows: starting on February 22nd with the death of Jane the Virgin’s Rose and continuing with The 100’s Lexa, The Magicians’ Kira, and Denise on The Walking Dead. This trend is an oppressive contrast to the progress that has been seen in real life and therefore it should die in 2017.
2. Living on Plot Twists
Earlier this year, our fearless leader Neil Miller wrote an article about shows that are living on plot twists to keep them moving forward and it is worth revisiting as we are just about to head into a new year of television. When I think about cliffhanger and plot-twist heavy shows, my mind immediately goes to The Walking Dead. I used to love that show and tune in every single week to see what happened next, but something changed around season four. I started realizing that I was only watching the show to see what happened next, not because I was attached to any of the characters on the show. I was returning weekly out of obligation, not interest, but a television show should be able to keep fans coming back episode after episode and season after season for reasons other than cliffhangers and plot-twists. Let’s hope that in 2017, fewer shows rely on maintaining their audience by just leaving them hanging.
3. The Laugh Track
There are few things that infuriate me more on television that a show’s use of a laugh track. The laugh track rose to popularity in the 1960’s as a way to emulate the live studio audience feel for sitcoms without actually having to have a live studio audience there. It worked fine for the 60’s, but the continued use of it nowadays needs to be stopped. At this point, laugh tracks are a way to compensate for lazy comedy writing. Laughter is contagious so if an audience member hears a laugh track playing in the background they are probably going to laugh at whatever was just said regardless of it actually being funny or not. If the best comedy shows have moved past the archaic laugh track, why can’t every single one move past?
Are we really done with telling original stories? Can’t we just leave completed shows alone? This year saw four different television show revivals that were all met with generally middling reviews. Fans love the idea of a beloved show cancelled to soon or long since concluded coming back and being just as great, but the reality is that the revivals are never as good as the originals. The actors have changed, society has changed, and television has changed. Revivals and reboots only last for so long and then what? Just wait for the next show to come back? Or, you could find a new show with new writers, characters, and stories to be immersed into. Support the new and exciting, not the old and familiar.
5. Male Dominated Late Night Television Shows
You know what is nuts to me? The fact that Full Frontal with Samantha Bee is the only late night television show with a female host currently. For decades, men have dominated late night television shows, but 2016 introduced us to Bee’s foray into hosting her own show after 12 years of working on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. In reference to her being the only woman on late night tv right now, Bee said in an interview with TV Guide that “it’s not like I’m the only one who ever has been and I’m not going to be the last.” Bee’s show is certainly making a welcomed difference in late-night television show and we hope to see more like it in 2017.