About Quantity; and Quality

How would you define “quality” television? Is it something that makes you laugh? Makes you think? Or perhaps something that’s easy to watch and requires minimal deliberation? In his book “Television’s Second Golden Age”, Thompson (1997) described quality TV as ‘best defined by what it is not’: ‘it is not “regular” TV’. From a scholarly perspective, “quality” television demands your attention, and often times portrays serious content with cinematic style. “Quality” television is more commonly associated with educated, up-scaled demographics, breaking conventions within the traditional experience of television consumption. This, in turn, influences the type of advertising material which is being pitched to subsequent audiences.

Characteristics such as high production values and serious themes are also paramount, and often closely connected to the more ‘prestigious’ forms of media, such as literature and cinema. As Fuller argues, these divides are not fixed, and much like our current media environment the definition of “quality TV” is continually evolving.

“The mainstreaming of cable television, the new dominance of video and then DVD collections of series, a decline in broadcast television’s audience share and the rapid expansion of the internet as an entertainment media option together created new opportunities for a more ‘cinematic’ television that hailed an active audience interested in formally and narratively challenging television.”

(Fuller, 2013)

Regardless of how it is defined, the increased requirement for and prevalence of ‘quality’ television has resulted in a peak in demand for content across a range of new and emergent media providers. Due to the rise in cable television networks, as well as streaming platforms such as Netflix, the demand for scripts in American television has increased significantly. In turn, it is becoming common now to see that these newer networks are looking to have their brand associated with ‘quality’ TV.

With this, we have seen the increased popularity of television remakes. Last week, I discussed this phenomenon in relation to reality television, and the role that cultural proximity plays in the varying degrees of success in translation. Unlike reality television, however, the effective conversion of drama and comedy are less typical. Adapting a reality television show is much more simple, whilst the execution of scripted shows is often problematic due to cultural sensitivity.

One example of a television remake which failed miserably was Kath and Kim, which was launched in 2008 by NBC Universal and Reveille Productions. The American remake was met with harsh criticism, as The Advertiser (2008) wrote, “the American Kath and Kim has been savaged by critics as an embarrassment worthy of an apology to Australia”.

Australian content, in particular, is very culturally specific. Here, we have a highly unique persona and sense of humour, and often times the same social queues are not perceived or appreciated by different cultures. Anyone who has seen even just a snippet of the remake will agree that, for a lack of better words, it’s truly cringe worthy. The internet has been relatively cleared of any evidence of this monstrosity, but I’ll leave you with a poor quality video which I’m sure supports my case.

References:

Fuller, S 2013, ‘“Quality TV”: The reinvention of U.S. television’, Thesis, Department of Gender and Cultural Studies, The University of Sydney.

The Advertiser, 2008, ‘Kath and Kim US remake savaged’, The Advertiser, online article, October 8, viewed 20 August 2019, <https://www.adelaidenow.com.au/entertainment/television/kath-and-kim-us-remake-savaged/news-story/1312e88f63c29b814077cb81a849edfd>

Thompson, R 1997, Television’s Second Golden Age, Syracuse University Press, New York.

Published by susiealdermann

Fifth Year Bachelor of Communications and Media/ Bachelor of International Studies (Dean's Scholar) student

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