The Platinum Age of Television
The platinum age of television happened during the 2000s, as said by actual T.V. experts, the same decade I was growing up. Sadly, I didn’t understand half of the shows that were going on but it never ceased to pique my interest. Television has always been a ritual shared between my mom and I. We’ve always enjoyed watching T.V. together and we used to make trips to Blockbuster; In retrospect, the death of Blockbuster robbed us from actually getting out of the house to pick a movie. Now, we are stuck in our couches mindlessly scrolling for 20 min. to see what the heck we’re going to watch.
Back to television, specifically in the ‘00s, half of us* were too young to watch ‘The Sopranos’ but old enough to watch ‘Breaking Bad’ when it came out. I was in high school when everyone was discussing the finale of ‘Breaking Bad.’ I remember how this show’s finale was huge, it was a cultural moment, and a lot of people were discussing it online and I didn’t notice I was living through one of the best decades of T.V.
*By half of us, I’m making a broad generalization that my main readers are either Millenials or were born in 1996 or after.
I don’t know which exact moment it happened but the mid-2010s started to be a very nostalgic era with ‘90s fashion and then it transcended to ‘90s culture from music to T.V. as well. Streaming services helped people rediscover ‘Friends,’ ‘Seinfeld,’ and ‘Freaks and Geeks’ to name a few. This nostalgia brought back a lot of shows too, we saw it with ‘Gilmore Girls,’ ‘Will & Grace,’ ‘Fuller House’, ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm,’ and ‘Twin Peaks’.
During the ‘90s, most T.V. revolved around sitcoms. Then the ‘00s came in and changed the whole game. Television started to be used to tell longer stories, have a more cinematic look, and build more character arcs. It gave writers the ability to project stories using a longer format than the movies.
The ‘00s is often referred to as the “Platinum Age” of television. During this era, we got some of the best television shows ever produced both of them being ‘The Sopranos’ and ‘Mad Men.’ I’ve watched both, ‘Mad Men’ is one of the best series I’ve seen because of the attention to detail in costume and set design, to the script, and the birth of Jon Hamm as a Hollywood star. I dare to say ‘Don Draper’ has been the best role he has had so far.
I’ve always been fascinated with the number of great shows we got during this era. What mostly inspired this post were two episodes from the CNN documentary called “The 2000’s” (you can currently stream it on Netflix). The first two episodes are dedicated to T.V. and how ‘The Sopranos’ was a groundbreaking show changing the way a scripted show is centered around antagonists, a.k.a, the “bad guy” which as a result gave us ‘Walter White.’
T.V. is back, baby
Hollywood’s eyes have shifted into creating the next “it” show on Netflix and have as much commercial success as ‘Stranger Things.’ Landing a successful T.V. show or producing one is what most actors are trying to do. ‘House of Cards’ major success as Netflix’s first Original Series is what made Hollywood seriously consider going back to T.V., especially, with a streaming platform. It also helped that Kevin Spacey, a re-known* Hollywood actor was backing up this project and starring it.
*Should I now say infamous instead of re-known?
Actors like Jennifer Aniston and George Clooney, who made their careers on T.V. during the ’90s, were running away from T.V. in the ’00s in order to transition into “films only” type of actors which somehow gave you more validity within the industry.
That’s why these hit-shows from the ‘00s were made with “new” actors or C-list celebrities, e.g., Bryan Cranston, Elizabeth Moss, Jon Hamm, Jim Parsons, John Krasinski, and Steve Carell to name a few. No big-name celebrity from the time was being interested in starting a T.V. show.
Now, we have huge movie stars executive producing shows on H.B.O., e.g., Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman with ‘Big Little Lies’ and how the show’s success managed to get one of the most iconic actors of the 21st century, Meryl Streep, on a scripted show. Meryl Streep on the small screen! Who would’ve thought?
We are also seeing the resurfacing of many actors or C-list celebrities making a comeback or gaining relevance in Hollywood thanks to incredibly successful T.V. shows, just like Elizabeth Moss whose role in ‘Mad Men’ helped project her career but what really established her as an actor was her role in Hulu’s ‘The Handmaid’s Tale.’ The same thing happened with Rachel Brosnahan, she had a small role in ‘House of Cards’ but it was Amazon Prime’s ‘The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’ that got her to win an Emmy.
Netflix’s not the only one
Even though the ‘00s had groundbreaking T.V. shows, they weren’t as many as we have today. With the arrival of streaming services, television is stronger than ever. For obvious reasons, it’s more accessible, it has little to no commercial breaks, and most of the platforms release the entire seasons in one day giving us the conceptualization of “binge-watching.” Don’t forget the part when there’s no need to buy a DVD set in order to enjoy your favorite show. Most likely than not it’s already available in one of these services.
And with great things also comes the saturation we now have with streaming services. What at first was innovative and great, has become a bit of a burden and less enjoyable as it once was. The best example is Netflix. Netflix’s catalog has grown significantly throughout the years, especially when they announced they were pouring big bucks into their originals. When I say pouring money is, in my opinion, basically investing their money without any criteria. Their originals now don’t have any consistent pattern in production nor quality. They’ve more mediocre shows than great ones.
Other streaming services are doing a better job than Netflix, for starters, H.B.O. has a long reputation of producing great shows and their quality and production are always present. Amazon Prime as well, they already have two Emmy Awards winning shows like ‘Transparent’ and ‘The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’, and Hulu is one of my favorites because it has a catalog of television shows dating back from the ‘60s until today. You can binge-watch ‘I Love Lucy,’ ‘Buffy The Vampire Slayer,’ ‘Will & Grace,’ and ‘The Handmaid’s Tale.’
What do you think about T.V.’s evolution? What shows from the ‘00s do you recall the best? And what shows do you recommend from any of these streaming services? Let me know down below in the comments.
Here’s a clip from the documentary I mentioned. It’s called “The 2000’s” you can stream it on Netflix.