In Dana Polan’s article, “Invisible City” she claims that The Wire is one of the first examples in television of a program that has the “representational possibilities that feature films never could come close to achieving.” I agree with Polan’s assessment; The Wire is a massive editorial on American urban society in film form. In no way can a film contain as much substance as The Wire. I think though that television is ultimately being directed in two different directions: the primetime cable television show with complex narratives and the substance free reality tv programs.
It seems as though people who want complex and challenging television are watching more cable networks due to the fact that many of the shows are able to be viewed on the internet. Despite this increase in viewership of shows like The Wire, the most popular shows still reside on network channels: American Idol, Survivor, Big Brother, etc. For now it seems like the networks have been saved by these shows, but they are losing their “elite” viewers who are flocking to HBO, Showtime, etc. Now that tv shows are becoming more like films, it feels like the old traditional style tv shows are dying out. 3 Shot sitcoms of the past are now shot documentary style (The Office, Arrested Development), and serious dramas have been taken over by the cable networks and made into long films. It will be interesting to see how different television becomes in this next decade. I don’t see the television format staying the same in this next decade.