I didn’t board the Game of Thrones train until about a couple of years ago. By then, I already came across a few spoilers because of how incredibly popular this series is. That didn’t stop me from watching though. The first thought that came to mind when I started to watch the show was how much it felt like I was watching a movie. The value that goes into a high budget film was almost the same as the episode I was watching. Everything from the sets to costumes to the acting was set at a high standard.
It would be a fair statement to say that television has come a very long way in the past few years. It’s an event on social media whenever a new episode of a popular TV series airs (enter Game of Thrones). There’s also the binging culture that Netflix influenced for shows. The interesting aspect I noticed is the parallels between film and television in terms of cinematic quality.
HBO was the first to start this trend with its famous series The Sopranos. With a show about a mobster trying to balance his home life and criminal organization, HBO introduced mature content into the mainstream of television shows. It’s also often credited as the first show to be considered an art form on the same level as feature films. This set the tone for future HBO shows such as Boardwalk Empire, True Detective, and Game of Thrones.
AMC followed the trend with shows like Breaking Bad, Mad Men, and The Walking Dead. All these shows provide the same level of artistry
that HBO started in the one hour drama category. The mature content and high production value followed as well with these shows.
I think what makes these shows so popular is their ability to push barriers in the Hollywood industry. They produce original ideas that multiple people resonate with in one way or another. In most of these shows, the main character is someone who isn’t the perfect hero. They may fight for the right cause, but have unorthodox methods of doing so.
These shows have garnered the respect of many television and film fans alike. Television is no longer the lower tier art form that it was before The Sopranos. There have been countless Primetime Emmy awards given to Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones, and The Sopranos to prove it. The effort that goes into the writing and production of each episode is evident. No can achieve this high quality content without working as hard as these filmmakers do.
There’s also a financial benefit that comes with these television shows. They offer opportunities for longer franchises, spin-offs, and merchandising at a level that films can’t achieve. This is due to the longevity that shows run on television. They accumulate a following of people over the course of multiple episodes and as a result this audience wants to see more of their favorite characters. Breaking Bad produced a spin-off based on a beloved character named Better Call Saul. Even The Walking Dead came up with a prequel to the show called Fear the Walking Dead. I don’t even want to think about how much merchandise there is out there for Game of Thrones.
Because of the influence cable television has, online streaming services continue the trend of breaking barriers. Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon are the top contenders for this. Netflix’s Stranger Things surprised us all with its mysterious storyline. Film has a clear influence on this show as there are many nods to the classic E.T. and The Goonies throughout the series. Hulu’s most famous example right now is The Handmaid’s Tale with its dark political themes. Then Amazon’s most critically acclaimed show is Transparent.
The golden era of television is far from over. Now that television has the freedom to explore deeper storylines with a higher production quality, I have a feeling that we can expect more great shows to cross our TV screens.