Existential Viewer

I’m familiar with only two – Sex and the City and Survivor – of the five case study television shows that Lotz uses to “illustrate the interconnections among changes in multiple production components” (216). I tried to watch Arrested Development once or twice, but it didn’t work for me. Never watched The Shield and never heard of Off to War. This is a small example of how we have become viewers that watch what we individually consider, in Lotz’ terms the “exceptional niche-specific shows and channels for distinctive audience” and we also watch some “mass hits” (240), not to mention the various technologies that we use in addition to/in lieu of television to view these products. This move away from television’s vast and historical cultural center recognizes a wider range of options that de-center an idealized past. Compared to literature and film, television might be considered an infant technology, witness its mostly passive, box/screen existence. Lots of early television network shows can still be seen on basic cable; TVLand as time capsule. I Love Lucy remains a profitable product. At the same time, new shows come and go (except for Law and Order), and compete against favorite re-runs and popular syndicated programming. The mixture of viewing outlets reflects a still larger landscape of individual choice – watching TV product online, taped, DVD boxed set, etc. In a description of her TV viewing habits, Lotz suggests that we may adopt network-like behavior and schedule our DVR viewing to certain times of the day and watch certain shows based on a need to “multitask while viewing” (242). Lotz’ description suggests a schedule and options designed to suite a busy, engaged lifestyle. While Lotz writes that we have become used to “expanded choice and control,” she emphasizes that “convenience, customization, and community” are the components that must integrate in order for the viewer of the post-network era to fully realize his or her new media, digital self.

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