Thursday, January 23, 2014
TV Shows I'd Like to See
When I have spare moments, such as on a snow day like yesterday, my mind wanders in odd directions. I often get ideas for television shows, especially those that challenge the many ossified genres and tropes we see on TV nowadays. Since I am not a television producer and do not have the ability or time to write scripts, I settle for writing my ideas down here.
Bridge and Tunnel
Friends and its imitators have made New York City out to be some kind of happy playground for twenty-somethings while not acknowledging its expense and inaccessibility. Bridge and Tunnel would be a show about long term friends who work in New York City, but live in New Jersey because their unpaid internships and low paid entry-level jobs make it too expensive to live in the city. Plenty of hilarious scenarios can ensue, such as one character trying to find dates while living in her parents' basement, or getting the goat of condescending trustafarian co-workers who live in a Manhattan apartment with the rent money provided by their parents. The foil for the main characters will be a insufferably narcissistic Manhattanite "writer" named Vanna Vorhath.
Undercover Boss: University Edition
In this version of the reality show university presidents and chancellors would have to work as adjuncts or go through the tenure review process and all the while follow all of the nit-picky policies they helped put in place. Somehow I think the experience still won't give them any sympathy for their employees.
On this Law and Order type show investigators in the NYPD strive to uncover corruption and police brutality while opposed by political cover-ups and the Blue Wall of Silence. Too often the television version of the police are presented in a sanitized and propagandistic way, this show could discuss issues such as stop and frisk, kickbacks, prisoner abuse, the shooting of unarmed suspects, and coerced confessions.
Blue Guy, Red State
This is similar to Northern Exposure, but a drama, not a comedy. The main character is "fish out of water" as a new assistant professor at a rural college in a small Great Plains town. He soon finds that his urban background and cultural sophistication make him a feared outcast. Each season, like the cast of Gilligan's Island, he strives to get a job elsewhere, but due to the contracting job market must stay put. Rather than learning to love his new location over time, he develops a mean drinking habit and spends as much of his free time traveling as possible before his spirit is broken and he accepts his fate and starts conforming, Stockholm Syndrome-like, to his surroundings.
I see this as an HBO-style series in the vein of The Sopranos, Treme, Deadwood, or The Wire. Partially inspired by the story of Spotswood Rice, the series would, over the course of several seasons, tell the story of the Rices, an enslaved family. It would begin with the outbreak of the Civil War, and through an ensemble cast, tell the story of slaves and their struggle for freedom during that conflict. Some members of the family manage to escape and join the Union army as contraband workers or soldiers. Others must face being "refugeed" by their masters to Texas. Eventually one of the soldiers in the family will return to the plantation in uniform, and personally free his family. Once the conflict is over, they strive mightily to reconnect with family members who were sold off to other plantations. The Rices also try to take advantage of Reconstruction, and also face the consequences of Klan violence after getting involved in politics. The epic of the African American experience during the Civil War and Reconstruction is so vast and sweeping (and dramatic) that it could not be confined to a feature-length film, we really need a series to do it justice.
Real Reality TV
This "reality" show will put cameras in the living rooms of ordinary Americans as they sit on the couch and watch reality television. It doesn't get any more real than that, does it?