These days it’s hard to define the time we are in as the golden age of anything. There is always someone to come say that it was better in a past generation. Cartoons were better in the 90s, movies need more Humphrey Bogart, music hasn’t been good since the 60s! But there is one thing today that can not be beat by any generation… Television. The new age of TV shows is astounding. With Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, and others producing original content that does not need to be held to any commercial, ratings, or governmental standards, it has allowed for the best shows in the history of motion picture.
These premium services can pump out fantastic shows due to growing memberships, and have even become some people’s only source of television entertainment. Over 40% of adults 18-34 use a device, such as Apple TV or Roku, to stream these services. And because of the added revenue from their membership fees, they can bring in A-List actors such as Kevin Spacey in House of Cards, James Franco in 11.22.63, and an entire cast for a new season of Arrested Development.
Not to be left behind, cable networks like FX, AMC, and USA have stepped up their shows as well. Unfortunately, while they aren’t held to any FCC regulations like the streaming services, they do have to compromise with advertisers. This has created some intense envelope pushing, especially on FX’s original series American Horror Story: Hotel, where the season premiere showed Max Greenberg (of New Girl fame) raped to death by a ghost, followed immediately by a vampire gang bang. On a softer note, USA’s show Mr. Robot has allowed the use of the “Seven Dirty Words”, if only on the on demand version of each episode. It remains to be seen how far the shows on these cable networks will go to compete with the premium content.
But it’s not just the consumers who think that premium services have taken over the television landscape. At last years Primetime Emmy Awards, HBO had 14 wins over 40 nominations, Netflix had 1 win over 13 nominations, and Amazon had 2 wins and 5 nominations that all went to Transparent.
These critically acclaimed shows are the base that television’s new era starts on. One day, you will tell your grandchildren, “Yeah, we didn’t have any jobs, or money, or thought of what was going to happen in the next six months. But God damn it, it was the best television ever.”