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SpoilerTV's Weekly Round Table: 80th Edition

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Hello and welcome to a new edition of SpoilerTV's Weekly Round Table! Joining us this week is Laura B (DL), Lisa Macklem (LM), Dahne (DH), Jennise (JH), Angela Niles (AN), Jamie Coudeville (JC), Katherine Meusey (KM), and myself (ZF). You just have to sit back enjoy the read and join the discussion in the comment section down below.

It’s been a while since the writers of SpoilerTV have gathered together for a roundtable. In our time since, which new broadcast show has surprised you the most in terms of quality?

Laura: I don't think there is any new broadcast show that has surprised me, but Evil definitely got more creative faster than I was expecting. It really shows how seamless the Kings are able to play will all kinds of tone now! I feel like they're on top of their game now!

Lisa: I was really pleasantly surprised by Evil and Stumptown. I wasn't surprised by the quality of The Outsider, but I've been really loving this mini-series. Most recently, I've really been surprised by Tommy! It's a terrific show with great acting and terrific dialogue. So far, it hasn't been shying away from tough storylines either.

Dahne: Prodigal Son has been the biggest surprise for me. The characters are well developed and the plot does a great job of mixing the central, overarching mystery with the procedural. Stumptown is my drama honorable mention. As for comedy, Bob Hearts Abishola does a great job of mixing heart with laughs. Generally, I do not like shows based on shipping, but adding in the multicultural element has raised the whole show. The Unicorn is my honorable mention for comedies.

Jennise: I'm not sure about the timeline of the last WRT article but the last broadcast show that surprised me, in terms of quality, was Roswell: New Mexico. I expected a teen-focused, faithful remake of the 1999 series. I don't hate the genre, but some of the cliches of a teen romance drama can be exhausting. The smartest decision the showrunners made was in aging the characters closer to 30. This meant that, in general, characters didn't make the dumb decisions a teenager would make. When Liz discovered that Max lied to her...she didn't spend 3 or 4 episodes operating off of assumptions, she confronted him. Another rare occurrence was to have the romantic lead wear his heart on his sleeve; to tell the object of his affection exactly how he felt. The show was full of surprises and unexpectedly good.

Angela: Evil, definitely. It’s such a strange, twisty little show, and I love the way it leaves me with so many questions and mysteries to try and sort out. I also love the issues it addresses, and that it’s touching on some things that don’t get as much focus in your average TV show. Plus, I adore the cast/characters.

Jamie: I haven't really started that many new broadcast shows (trying to limit my amount of shows). I'm not sure if Batwoman was already playing when we had our last article but I'm really enjoying that one. Also, not sure if it counts as broadcast but I was really impressed by World On Fire which aired on BBC. It was so good but seems to be so unknown.

Katherine: I thought Evil would stretch some boundaries, and it did. Huge fan of the show, and if nothing else I’m surprised by how far a network show goes with regard to the language used. I guess I keep thinking of broadcast as being more conservative and cable being more “racy”, but I am glad to have been proven wrong.

A few days ago, Disney announced their decision to pull the Love, Simon show from Disney+ due to “family-friendly” concerns. This has sparked controversy online, as the Marvel shows are likely to have darker themes, yet the LGBT show has been pulled. What draws the line for “family-friendly”? Do you think Disney+ will be able to keep their platform entirely family-friendly?

Lisa: I think the much more sinister question about Disney+ is the influence the juggernaut has on media generally. It's shameful for them to pull Love, Simon. But if we are going to see a conservative backlash on Disney+ which promises to be the biggest streaming service before too long, will other services and networks follow suit?

Dahne: I think Disney is the only media company powerful enough to design their platform however they choose. As Disney+ gets even stronger, it could possibly separate off into more age-specific "channels," which could lessen future controversies.

Angela: I think any censorship of any sort on any streaming services is absolutely insane, because, y’know, you’re not required to subscribe to these services. It’s like trying to censor stuff on cable channels that you don’t have to have if you don’t wish to pay for them. But it’s especially ludicrous for any outlet to censor anything LGBT-related, while letting dark/violent content slide by with not a word. The idea that LGBT-related content does not equate to “family-friendly” is just plain stupid. I have no idea what the Disney streaming service will do going forward, but I hope they’ll be a little less strict with that stuff going forward.

Jamie: Don't even get me started on this. Why am I still surprised that Disney doesn't consider LGBT subjects "family-friendly". What the hell does that even mean? God forbid kids see themselves represented on a Disney show. You can still keep things light and appropriate for kids while also being inclusive.

Katherine: I thought something like this might happen: at some point Disney would have to decide how “Disney” the channel would be, They’re already shying away from shows with LGBTQ characters, despite how positively they’re portrayed. Young people should see themselves reflected on screen, and adults should, too. I can see a “Disney PG” channel or something on the horizon, and that isn’t right.

Zoé: I think this sets a dangerous precedent for what "family-friendly" is. Hilary Duff has expressed her own worry about what might be denied for the Lizzie McGuire show. My question is: What makes LGBT content not family-friendly, when The Mandalorian (amazing show) includes so many dark themes, as I imagine the Marvel shows will as well.

So many streaming shows have such a small shelf life now, as opposed to years before, when many network shows were getting 6+ seasons with 25+ episodes each year. Do you think it's a good thing the TV landscape has changed or should shows still be given a longer shelf life?

Laura: I think like always, it depends on the show. Some shows really do well when they have more than two or three seasons, especially if they are between 8-13 episodes, but other shows I think benefit from having a bit less and more of a tight-knit story.

Lisa: Shorter seasons and series really do help to maintain quality storytelling. Few if any shows actually maintain quality past the 5th or 6th season - they too often become a parody of themselves or wander off to become something different and less appealing.

Dahne: It always depends on the show and the quality of the writing. Some shows are better designed for longer seasons, while others work best with a planned limit.

Jennise: The idea that “years before when network shows were getting 6+ seasons” is not entirely accurate. 6 seasons still is not the norm. The standard goal for the run of a season is still 5 seasons. One of the big differences is that in years past, if a show made it to 5 seasons you could count on it to be canceled to make room for a new show unless the numbers were extraordinary.

I grew up with 22 episode seasons. I've seen people posting that a 22 episode order is evil. I don't believe it is. I believe that the show's order should depend on the story and the showrunner's ability to managing the telling of the story. Some stories don't need 22 episodes to tell their story. The Haunting of Hill House is the first to come to mind. No more than 10 episodes were needed to tell that story. On the other hand Siren had a number of threads that were touched on and dropped in a way that suggested there was enough story for a 22 episode season, but because the order was for 10 episodes story threads were lopped off. This is the major element of the “new TV landscape” that disappoints me a great deal.

The things that I really love about how TV is working these days include the fact that streaming channels have given stories with no hope of getting broadcast level ratings, a chance to be seen. Streaming and downloads killed reruns, which led to the creation of a 'summer season' on the big three broadcast networks. This means that those networks are taking a chance on short-run, sometimes quirky, series. (Braindead on CBS of all networks.) I think the changes that we're seeing now benefits the audience because we're getting more (and hopefully excellent) stories.

Angela: Basically echoing everyone else here in that decision depends on the show in question. I’m also one of those who doesn’t mind shows having 20 some episodes in a season, but I agree that some shows don’t require that many, either. Plus, with as many shows that are out there nowadays, it makes sense that a lot of them are going shorter, if only to try and make room for everything.

Jamie: Yes, I do think it's a good thing. Many shows go on for way too long. You could have shorter seasons but more seasons or the opposite. I'm always glad when shows themselves decide to end things. I do believe every show should get the chance to end on their own terms. But those terms should be before the tenth season. As for the length of seasons, I'm all for shorter ones. And for spreading them out across the year.

Katherine: This a hard one, and it really depends on the show. I prefer shorter seasons myself, because you can get fewer “filler” episodes. Even the broadcast channels are picking it up now. And shows should be allowed to end when they end, it gives everyone some closure. Well, maybe not everyone.

With all the new streaming services being launched, has Netflix had its time in the sun or do you think it will still be the dominant force for the next five years?

Laura: As it stands I don't think Netflix has that much superior or unique content to offer these days like it did. Nothing there so far really stands out as the next big thing, where Disney+ had breakout success with The Mandalorian and Amazon may rise up with The Lord of the Rings Prequel. The broadcast networks are also launching their stuff too, where CBS AA already has a foothold with Star Trek Franchise and The Good Wife. So unless Netflix comes up with something beloved or truly unique, I don't see them staying on top.

Lisa: Netflix will surprise us by doing the unexpected and anticipating what we want before we know what that is. Netflix as we know it, however, I would lay odds won't be the one we have in 5 years.

Dahne: Netflix has lost a lot of its variety. Before it was worth the money because you could get all kinds of shows there. With major companies pulling out for their own streaming and the overabundance of Netflix original programming, it's the next thing I will cancel.

Jennise: I don't think the question is whether Netflix will remain dominant over the next five years. I think the big thing to watch over the next five years will be which of the latecomers to the streaming game will still be around. Most people are not going to get Netflix and Amazon Prime and CBS and NBC and DC Universe and Disney+ and....and...and... (Personally, I'm not paying for a broadcast network's streaming service.) I think this will cause one or more new streaming networks to shut down. I think that's going to be the biggest thing to watch over the next five years.

Jamie: Even without all of the new streaming services, Netflix has changed over the years and not for the better. They seemed to have moved away from quality shows to quantity. They keep canceling shows left and right, rarely let a show move past a fourth season. And I think it's starting to piss people off. So why wouldn't they move on to another streaming service. I think Netflix is going to start falling behind, especially once Disney+ releases their Marvel shows.

Katherine: I’m still waiting to see what Netflix has with all of these deals they’ve got going with Shonda Rhymes and other big names. One thing that bothers me about Netflix is that they’re trying to be everything to everyone. I’d agree that we see more quantity to quality now, like they’re trying to compete with everyone. If they are going to stay competitive I think they need to slow down and figure out who they want to be. There are too many shows out there and more genre-specific channels to air them. Netflix needs to pick up their feet before those big-name showrunners go elsewhere.

That wraps up another round table! Feel free to drop your thoughts in the comments below. See you next week!

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