Several years ago, FX head honcho John Landgraf famously coined the phrase “peak TV” and noted how there was too much on the air right now. Lindelof and Schur both respect Landgraf: “Landegraf is brilliant” (Lindelof) and “You meet that guy and you think damn this dude is smart.” But they both disagree with him. Lindelof thinks “the more TV there is, the more great TV there will be and the more niche TV there will be.” It’s frustrating for viewers, sure, but we wind up with a much richer landscape. Schur agrees, and his frustration with peak TV isn’t really about there being too much, but:
I get a little frustrated that there’s not a national conversation anymore. You basically have Game of Thrones and for people who watch The Walking Dead, you have The Walking Dead. But other than that, it’s very rare to have, every week, where the whole country is watching something and talking about something. And now, every conversation is the same.
“How about Stranger Things?”
“Yeah, I’ve only seen two episodes!”
Schur noted how he hadn’t gotten to Stranger Things Season 2 yet (“It’s hanging over me”) or any of The Americans, even though he knows it’s excellent (Lindelof: “It is excellent”):
Schur:Every single day I drive around this town and there’s a new billboard for a new thing on Netflix that I’ve never heard of and I hate it, it’s coming at us too fast.
Lindelof: We have a game in the writers room, which is “Is It A Show?”
“Did you hear, if you liked The Handmaid’s Tale, there’s a new Margaret Atwood show?”
“Oh, when’s it gonna be on?”
“It’s on now.”
“That’s not a thing.”
And it is.
Schur told a cute story about Mike O’Malley, showrunner of the recently ended Survivor’s Remorse (which I’ve said for years now was a wonderful gem of a show with a title that made sense but wasn’t marketable, and which sadly nobody watched). He said that when folks would ask O’Malley what he was working on, he’d say “I run a show called Survivor’s Remorse. We’re on Starz. We’re on season 4. You’ve never heard of it.” Because he knew if he didn’t do that, with this Peak TV world, people would ask him when it was going to be out, and he’d have to get into the whole awkward conversation and nobody knows how to react. So he would just cut past all of that.
Anyway, Schur sums up the take away of all of this perfectly: “I’ve said this before, we’re all going to die with thousands of hours of unwatched excellent TV. There’s nothing we can do about it.”