August is a difficult month for the pop-culture writer who depends on movies and television shows to generate content. It’s not that there’s a complete lack of television or movies in the marketplace right now, it’s that we’re in between “Internet” shows. Shows like True Detective, Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead (and previously, Breaking Bad and Mad Men) drive so much of the conversation on the Internet because those are the shows that everyone is watching. Even those who no longer watch can very often participate in those conversations because they touch upon social and cultural issues with which we can all engage.
It’s hard to say, however, whether we on the Internet drive those conversations, or if we’re just meeting the demands of our readers, so to speak. We had a conversation about this on the Station Agents the other night, with Joanna using the fancy word “monoculture” to describe the phenomenon of the Internet crowding around only a few shows to the detriment of others.
George R.R. Martin also spoke about it in an interview with the NY Observer:
But this kind of thing, where there are so many reviewers who review every episode as it comes on, and there are 20 different reviewers, probably more than that, who are reviewing us episode by episode by episode—and not only us but Mad Men and Breaking Bad in their day, and a handful of other shows that are getting a tremendous amount of attention—is very gratifying.
At the same time, I’m aware that, you know, there are dozens of other great shows out there that nobody is doing that for. I think if I was on the flipside of that, if mine was one of the shows being overlooked instead of one of the shows being favored, it would drive me crazy.
It really is unfortunate that we crowd around only a handful of shows at a time, and as deserving as those shows might be, there are others that deserve as much attention. I’m not sure how to combat that. We do make an effort to write about those other worthy shows (and we certainly watch them) but the coverage is not as well received. To an extent, we do have to meet the demands of the marketplace in order to survive, although we are certainly willing to make exceptions if there is at least a healthy amount of conversation (the Hannibal posts, for instance, generally received relatively little traffic but enough comments to justify their continuation, at least until the cancellation was announced and everyone abandoned ship).
So, what do you do? For us, we sprinkle posts about those other shows into the rotation so we at least feel better about ourselves, and we hope that the Internet eventually catches on, at which point our coverage will expand to reflect the demand. We may be able to nudge, but we cannot create an appetite on our own.
If we could, these are the five shows I honestly wish we could spend more time talking about here and around the Internet.
Rectify — With Rectify, we have tried everything. reviews, finale recaps, interviews with the actual cast, including them on practically every Netflix TV and best episodes list we do. We went nuts for Abigail Spencer, we always make a point to mention the show in Emmy snub pieces, and we even attempted to make the cast into sexual objects. Unfortunately, that coverage has found little to no purchase. I understand why: It gets no promotion, it’s on a network that no one watches, and as captivating as the series is, it’s a slow-burn that hinges upon soulful look as much as it does actual plot turns. The third-season finale, however, is tomorrow night, and though it’s way too much to ask of anyone to watch the entire series before then, it’s worth it. At the very least, catch the first two seasons on Netflix and wait patiently — with your devastated heart hanging by a tendon — for the third to arrive.
The Knick — We also attempted to work up the sexy angel on The Knick cast in order to generate interest, we’ve linked it to True Detective (season one), we’ve talked about how refreshing (and revolting) is is to have a genuine shitbag as the protagonist, we’ve singled out Andre Holland’s sterling performance in the series, we’ve attempted to gain your interest by pointing out that one of the leads is Bono’s daughter, Eve Hewson, and we’ve straight-up given you five bloody good reasons to watch the show. Unfortunately, most of you still are not. It’s on Cinemax, though, and it’s not on Netflix, so I understand why it doesn’t get the attention it warrants. It is, however, a series that would be immensely fun to revolve conversations around: It’s bloody, and sexy, and there’s a lot of interesting turn-of-the-century history in it. It’s also deftly dealing with some cultural and social issues that still resonate today.
The Americans — We went so far as to feature weekly recaps of The Americans for the better part of two seasons, and we still continue to cover the big episodes, we’ve done the obligatory coverage of the phenomenal wig work, and yet, I think the most response we’ve ever gotten from our The Americans coverage was when some dude bros heckled the brutal murder of a character during a movie-theater screening of the premiere Vivian attended. We’re not giving up on The Americans because it’s one of the most fascinating, intense, and complicated dramas on television, and in the most previous season, the plot turns and shocking moments even lended themselves to the types of conversations the Internet loves to have. It’s a series worth as many think pieces as Game of Thrones gets, it just needs to find the audience (and some goddamn Emmy recognition) to support them.
Mr. Robot — I went so far as to create an actual archive page for Mr. Robot (something we only do for only a dozen shows or movies here) in anticipation of Mr. Robot becoming the show of the summer. Unfortunately, despite some Fight Club shenanigans, as much hype as I could generate, some more favorable comparisons to True Detective,, and even an Internet-friendly recap, Mr. Robot has not become the show of the summer. It’s ratings are still mediocre, at best. It has not, as many of us had hoped, supplanted True Detective as the most talked about show on the Internet. USA Network may actually be wise to move it to Sundays next summer — the competition may be stiffer, but it will at least be considered as one of television’s Sunday night prestige dramas instead of a Wednesday night USA Network drama that comes on after Suits. It’s much, much better than that, and exactly the kind of show that Internet will love as soon as it finds it. I still have a strong hunch it will be one of the most talked about series next summer, after the first season is discovered on streaming services.
Shameless — The Showtime drama is both one of mine and Emily’s favorite series to write about here, and though the pieces don’t often gain a lot of traction (except when they’re tied to larger overall socioeconomic issues), it’s a show that we both love so much that we’re absolutely willing to continue yelling at the clouds. It has a great cast; wildly entertaining plotlines; it contains plenty of eye candy; and it touches upon a lot of larger issues dealing with abuse, depressions, LGBT rights, parenting, and poverty. It’s also the only series on this list that is consistently funny,and though there are more talked about Sunday night series when Shameless airs every winter, it’s still the first one I always watch. In a world where Shameless is one of the most talked about series on the Internet, we’re primed to dominate the conversation.