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What TV says about us

The past year saw a lot of changes in television.  Award-winning series such as House of Cards and Transparent saw their stars face sexual misconduct allegations that left their shows in jeopardy.  Long-defunct series made history by returning to television with rave reviews.  And according to Trump, televised football is now in jeopardy due to a knee and a league-wide show of solidarity.
But what else were people watching?

Based on Neilson ratings, Trump was once again wrong.  Sunday Night Football was actually the most watched show in 2017.  This was followed by The Big Bang Theory, The Good Doctor, Young Sheldon, NCIS, This Is Us, America’s Got Talent, The Walking Dead and Bull.

This would suggest that people really wanted to laugh and find someone worth cheering for in 2017.  Gee, I wonder why that would be.

However, according to the changing world of Hollywood, ratings alone are no longer the standard for success.  Instead, the belief is that audiences should not only be watching shows but also interacting with them and other fans.  This means social media has become an integral part of television.

Remember when you used to tell your crazy uncle that yelling at the TV set was pointless?  Apparently, he was ahead of his time.  Because today, the louder he yells, the better it is.  Except now that yelling is being done with a few million thumbs and it’s reaching a lot more people.

So according to the INSIDER, the most talked about shows last year included a violent fantasy series that leaves fans begging for more for months on end and another that has a body count that never ends as the dead come back for more.

Several popular comic book-turned-television series proved that studios are still trying to squeeze out every ounce of pubescent inner-child from their viewers.  And then twist it into something even darker.

According to the list, laughter is still key from nerds to modern families and anyone who was willing to skewer the White House every week.  Ironically, American Horror Stor(ies) also continued to be a big draw when they focused on the clashes of ideologies in America.  Based on a true story, perhaps?

And after 19 seasons, Americans are still avid voyeurs, watching and dissecting a group of housemates as they play games and lie to each for money.

So the most popular shows ran the gambit from laughter to tears, fantasy to reality, family fun to horror.  But if you look closely, they all questioned our humanity and morality.

Big Brother and Empire could make anyone feel morally superior.  NCIS and Grey’s Anatomy gave us the heroes in our midst.  This Is Us and 13 Reasons Why made us question our own everyday actions and the repercussions on those around us.

Perhaps given the current social climate, television audiences aren’t just looking for an escape.  We’re looking for answers as to how we got here.  And we’re ready to talk about them.

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