Is Television finally better than the movies?

Homeland Carrie Collage

“Movies will never die, not as long as director Terrence Malick can make every blade of grass sway like the first dance of creation, but TV is where the action is, the addictions forged, the dream machine operating on all cylinders.” (James Wolcott, “Primetime’s Graduation” Vanity Fair May 2012 p150)

I have proudly worn the badge of movie geek for as long as I can remember. I may not know a lot about a lot of things, but for most of my life I have been completely confident in my knowledge and love of the movies.

These days, I find myself going to the movie theatre less and less. One could perhaps attribute that to the fact that I am finally a member of the gainfully employed, but the truth is even at home I’ll skim through the newest movie releases on Netflix and rarely press play. As the former Friday Film Review writer for this website, a part of my heart breaks to admit it but I can’t deny it any more; I am falling out of love with new movies.

My pop culture allegiance is most definitely starting to shift towards television.

I used to happily fork over my cash to the ticket attendant at AMC or Scotia Bank on any film that seemed even remotely interesting. I reveled in the fact that I’d seen every new film out there and could quickly and decisively give you my opinion on it. But these days I recommend to people that they check out Homeland or Portlandia. As I approach thirty, the “old” lady in me does find special delight in curling up on the couch while I shove my face with junk food and watch my favourite show.

Like everyone else on the planet, I went to go see The Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises. Summer Blockbusters are meant to be seen on the big screen anyways; all those explosions and car chases and tight outfits are so much more grandiose at the movie theatre than they are at home. And I know myself; there will always be that undeniable urge inside me to sit in the dark with a group of strangers and stare at a large screen while shoving my face with junk food.

And with the holidays around the corner, the studios are releasing their Oscar contenders. I’ll probably check out Les Miserables and Django Unlimited. But then again, who knows. Do I really want to see Anne Hathaway sing about how life has killed her dreams when I can binge watch the new season of Arrested Development!!! (If you can’t tell, I’m really excited for the new season of Arrested Development!).

From a feminist perspective, I’ve long preferred television. I’ve argued on Forget the Box before how rare it is in the movies to see an interesting, developed female character that’s more than the love interest or the mother. On television be it Damages, The Big C or The Mindy Project, women of all ages and races get to create fully fleshed out, realized characters. My mom can enjoy a show like The Good Wife while I enjoy New Girl. Television, simply put, is better to women.

While the movies have about a fifty year head start, television is also no longer their bastard cousin. In many cases, the production values and pedigree of television shows are just as impressive. I dare you to watch the Battle of Blackwater on Game of Thrones from this season and tell me that wasn’t an impressive piece of storytelling equal to any movie.

Before you get all up in arms about my post, may I just reiterate the point of this article is to question. With a quick skim, you can tell I’m clearly conflicted about the whole thing. Unlike Wolcott in Vanity Fair I would never assume to declare that television is without a doubt better. A part of me feels like THAT movie just hasn’t come out in awhile. That amazing, mind blowing movie that I can’t stop thinking about. A part does hope it’s out there somewhere. But until that movie comes, I’m gonna be excited about season 3 of Downton Abbey.

3 comments

  • I have to say that the same thing is happening to me, in
    parts due to the fact that certain films I want to watch are being made outside
    of US, Canada and UK, so I would have to watch them on television or online. But
    another point is that my attention span is becoming shorter and I cannot last 2
    hours in a cinema without wanting to check my phone for news. In many ways I
    think people are having the same problem with books, I have at least 5 half
    read books on my bed stand, and these days I can only enjoy short poems. I
    really think through the advancement of technology we want everything bite
    sized.

  • There are plenty of good movies out there, but no, you’re not going to see many of them at the Forum or Scotia Bank – that’s the fast food of the movie industry. Yes there are definitely better shows on TV now than even just five years ago. I agree wholeheartedly, but even among those most are constrained to a hamster wheel of plot lines with different window dressing. Once you’ve figured out the formula they quickly jump the shark (though they remain pretty).

    For real guts I feel like movies still have greater capacity to move and entertain, I’m glad TV is better than it was, but its not king/queen yet.

  • Marry me.

Join the discussion

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *