Wednesday, August 03, 2016


Here are two recent pieces on overrated TV shows.  One list has:

Friends, Lost, The West Wing, Family Guy, The Walking Dead, The Big Bang Theory, Glee

The other has:

Friends, Seinfeld, Mad Men, The West Wing, Lost, This Is England (it's a British list), Downton Abbey, Battlestar Galactica, The Walking Dead, Arrrested Development

Without going into detail on each show, these lists do raise the question what does overrated mean when it comes to TV.

For one thing, you've got to pick on shows that are highly though of.  No one's listing reality shows, because no one thinks that much of them, even if they get ratings.  For that matter, lots of hit shows, like NCIS, don't make the list because no one is making major claims for them.  So even getting on such a list is a compliment, in a way.

Second, a TV show happens over several years, which can be of varying quality.  So when you rate them, do you include the worst years, or judge it by its best episodes.  A show like Mad Men was original and powerful at its best, but went on too long (even if it rallied near the end). Most Lost fans believe the final season, and especially the finale, was weak, but does that mean the whole show was a mistake?  (I don't think so, though with a show such as Lost, that has all sorts of secrets, if the final reveal doesn't work, there's an argument it retroactively hurts the entire show.)

Then there are shows that started great but ran out of steam, sometimes early on.  I think that applies to Battlestar Galactica and Downton Abbey.  So should we look back fondly at the exciting beginning, or bemoan how they never did as much as they could with the premise?

Then there's politics.  If there's too much, or they're too explicit, you sometimes want to run for cover.   And old political arguments can date.  This is arguably the problem with shows like The West Wing (though if any show is allowed to be political, it's this one) and Glee.

Then there's comedy. Does it date?  If it's tied to an era, does it not play as well later.  I would say no, in general, but some people think Friends and even Seinfeld, because they're no longer fresh, aren't as funny.

For that matter, comedy, no matter how funny or original, can grow stale after 100 or 200 episodes. Has this happened to The Big Bang TheoryFamily Guy? (It's definitely happened to The Simpsons, which, oddly, is not on either list.)

Finally, why is The Walking Dead on both lists. It's tremendously popular, but does anyone really think it's that great to begin with?


Blogger New England Guy said...

"Over rated" to me tends to mean everybody else likes something that I don't.

8:53 AM, August 03, 2016  
Blogger LAGuy said...

"Underrated" is even more misused. It simply means I like someone or something a lot.

10:27 AM, August 03, 2016  

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