It’s undeniable that we have more television choices than ever before. With hundreds of channels to choose from plus an entire selection of past and currently-airing shows on Netflix, the choice of what to watch can be as overwhelming as it is exciting.
To me, even more than the quality of shows that are being put out right now, it’s the variety and availability of shows that make me believe we are living in the “Golden Era of Television”. Television has gained so much more respect as a medium of storytelling and while that has largely been contributed to shows like Mad Men and Breaking Bad, I think it’s also because we watch TV differently now than we did in the past. There is a difference in watching a show live and week-to-week compared to marathoning a show over the course of a few weeks or months. You lose some of the excitement and anticipation that comes from being forced to wait to see the resolution of a cliffhanger, but it also allows you to become more immersed in the fictional world the showrunner has created. It’s the fact that we have so many shows that can be watched and so many methods in which to to watch them that makes this an exciting time to be a television fan.
When I started watching more TV around 2009, I was only watching one or two shows live and catching up with one or two more via Netflix. Then I started watching some of the more recent, well-loved or critically-acclaimed shows, such as Arrested Development, Veronica Mars, and Pushing Daisies, and that’s when I really fell in love with television. I enjoyed all three of them, though none ever came close to being a favorite, but I loved seeing what other people saw in them. I could see why they are still so fondly thought of, years after their cancellation and in doing so, it makes me feel like I understand a little more about the recent history of television and its potential as a medium.
Now, my to-watch list has reached almost comically ridiculous levels. I want to see the award-winners and understand what made them so great. I want to see the shows that have shaped television into what it is today. I want to see the shows that have incredibly enthusiastic fanbases so I can see why they are loved so much. I want to see the shows I probably would have watched but I missed out on the first time around since they aired before my love for television kicked in. I want to see all the shows I know I’m missing out on now but that I don’t have the time to add onto my list of currently-airing shows that I watch. I’ll probably never get around to watching them all, as my list is growing faster than it’s shrinking, but knowing that I have the option to watch them is part of what keeps me excited about TV.