Category: ConStar Clicks

ConStar Clicks

The 2015-16 TV season is fast approaching, and with that comes endless articles on various trends and the state of television today. This week’s ConStar Clicks features a few of those articles and a couple of older ones. Click away!

Over on NPR: Television 2015: Five Shows They Will Never Stop Making including: The Adventures Of Mr. Superabilities And Detective Ladyskeptic and Healing Dr. Chilly. 
Another NPR piece: Television 2015: Are We Done Hating Television? which discusses how movie stars are moving to TV, which used to be a shocking thing, as TV was what movie stars did when they couldn’t get movie roles. Now things are different.

Disdain for television is so old and so powerful that HBO used to try to repurpose it into something useful, like fuel made from old French-fry grease. That’s what “It’s not TV. It’s HBO.” was.

Another great line:

Disdain for television is so old and so powerful that HBO used to try to repurpose it into something useful, like fuel made from old French-fry grease. That’s what “It’s not TV. It’s HBO.” was.


TV NOW: Are You Cheating On Your TV Shows? [Seat 42F] considers the sheer amount of television that is on the air today and the way social media and other factors force us to choose which shows to watch live and which to save for that DVR/Netflix binge

Total scripted television shows rose from 340 shows in 2013 to 371 shows in 2014 and now there will be over 400 shows at the end of 2015 — that is an increase of over 60 additional television shows in the past 2 years.

Also:

It became essential to triage which TV shows had to be watched immediately or LIVE or suffer the repercussions.

An important question is asked: Is TV Writing the Best Job Ever? [Huffington Post]
(and answered by TV writer Jane Espenson, who’s worked for some of the best SFF shows on TV, including Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Once Upon a Time, and Battlestar Galactica.)
This piece on the BBC America Anglophenia blog wonderfully explores how Tatiana Maslany perfects the various accents and dialects she performs so flawlessly on Orphan Black:

In playing these diverse characters, the Canadian-born actress has the Herculean task of defining each individual through speech and behavior without tripping over into Saturday Night Live-level caricature. And that’s not even accounting for the performances in which a clone pretends to be another clone. Nuances are layered on nuances.

If you’ve ever watched Orphan Black, you know those nuances are serious! Also why hasn’t Tatiana hosted SNL yet?!

ConStar Clicks

Over on Buzzfeed, 51 TV Writers Reveal Their Favorite Thing They’ve Ever Written, which is really cool. A few of my favorite shows and writers are on the list, including Mike Shur (Parks and Rec‘s Halloween Surprise is his pick, which I of course watched about 15 times the night it aired), Jennie Snyder Urman of Jane the Virgin, Bryan Fuller (whose choice was Pushing Daisies‘ “Pie-lette”—just the title makes it one of my favorite episodes as well), and Rob Thomas (who also chose a pilot, the one for Veronica Mars).
Stephen Colbert‘s soon coming Late Show debut means there have been dozens upon dozens of articles written about him, his process, and his future on the show. Luckily for these magazines, I love Stephen Colbert. Here are a few of my fave articles written about him so far:


Netflix spares the average viewer from 130 hours of commercials a year, according to The AV Club. But how much money does that equal? Even based on what a cheap commercial might cost, I imagine it’s a pretty high number (I don’t do math if I don’t have to, so don’t ask me to make a guesstimate). But Netflix’s astounding success probably makes that money back and more. Amazing.
The Flash’s Carlos Valdes, Danielle Panabaker and showrunner Andrew Kreisberg talk diversity [Blastr]
The EW Community points out the downside to constant binge watching:

There is, however, a significant downside to always making television available all at once: the loss of the communal viewing experience. Say what you will about the Internet and social media, but one of the wonderful things about it is the access it has given all of us—to people who are interested in the same things we are. Live-tweeting a show or taking to the Internet afterward to read reviews, ask questions, or share thoughts means we no longer have to enjoy our favorite shows in the isolation of our own homes. That’s a beautiful thing.

As a person who makes most of her connections, both on- and offline, through mutual love of TV shows (and as someone who wants to write for television in order to spur those connections in other people), I definitely agree that bingeing TV shows takes away from the communal aspect of watching TV. Through social media, we’ve been able to make primetime viewing necessary with various Twitter community live tweets (see the Black Girl Nerds and Nerds of Color communities as prime examples), where you have to be watching a show live to engage with your online friends (or even go online, for fear of spoilers). TV’s power to connect people is lost when we can’t talk about our shows because half your friends haven’t watched them yet. With one episode, it’s easier to wait for them to catch up; if they’re a season behind, it’s harder. Hopefully a mixture of weekly and marathon series continues, so that we can have the best of both worlds.
Snoopy says it all:

ConStar Clicks

I’ve been on hiatus (not really on purpose, just life and work getting in the way), but sometimes I still collect links for ConStar Clicks and then never post them because I either have too few or no time. Here are some links I’ve accumulated during this sorta hiatus. More Clicks coming soon (for real, there’s already a draft for next week’s!).
How Does an Aspiring TV Writer Get Discovered by an Agent? [Splitsider]

Search for a story that is meaningful to you, and excavate the depths of your imagination — what have you dreamed about writing, what do you wish you could watch? It doesn’t have to be a pilot, even. Is there an indie movie idea you’re dying to get out?

Basically, write what you want to write, no matter how wacky or unconventional, because agents will see the potential of it and it could get you work. Definitely something I needed to hear. Lesson of the day: Write it anyway.
Two articles on TV Staffing season (which has passed for this year, but is always useful for next spring!)

I’ve applied to three writing fellowships this year (!!). As notification season quickly approaches, this article was a very helpful read. Cross your fingers for me guys!

 

ConStar Clicks

Here are some cool links I’ve come across since we last met up for these Clicks.

Ξ Who doesn’t love Ava DuVernay? Here’s the Selma director at South by Southwest giving a Keynote speech which featured many wonderful pieces of advice. Watch the whole thing but Indiewire conveniently compiled a list of some of the awesome things she said. Among my favorites:

  • “If your dream only includes you, it’s too small.”
  • the principal goal must be to serve the story.
  • the Oscars are, simply, “a room in L.A.” “It’s cool, it’s very cool,” she says of the Academy’s recognition. “But my work’s worth is not based on what happens in, around, for or about that room.”

Ξ I’m obsessed with MBTI (Myers-Briggs Type Indicator) personality tests, especially when it comes to guessing TV character types. While there are tons of people who denounce it for not being science, I think it more accurately describes you based on what you are actually like more than say, a horoscope, where you may or may not match to the traits of someone born in your season or whatever. So when I saw this Myers-Briggs TV Personality Test over on Vulture, I was upset I hadn’t actually thought of it! My friend and I spent maybe 2+ hours thinking of questions they could have added (which dissolved into a ‘How Obsessed with TV Are You’ Game Show), but on the surface it’s pretty cool. I got CSMH (Comedy, Serialized, Mainstream, Highbrow), but I think I could have gotten Drama, Serialized, Cult, Highbrow as well, considering what I watch (basically comedies and superhero dramas). Take the test and find out what you are, then let’s debate if that’s actually correct.
Ξ I really like this Fiction Diversity essay by Em Liu who talks about how sitcoms can normalized family dynamics on television. Starting with I Love Lucy to Will & Grace, she discusses how these shows presented different family dynamics than the ones viewers were used to. THe article was written with regard to Selfie, but she shared on Twitter as she felt it was appropriate to the campaign to ensure Fresh Off the Boat gained a second season.
Ξ This Vulture article discusses the rampant trend of rebooting old TV series rather than coming up with new ones. It talks about how reviving an existing series creates instant buzz on social media, which can provide for higher ratings and interest when the show premieres, as opposed to many new shows that premiere to abysmal numbers. (Unless you’re Empire or Fresh Off the Boat or blackish or How to Get Away with Murder, all of which had pretty decent or juggernaut ratings—wait, could it be that we need more PoC produced series to get those premiere ratings boosts they’re talking about?! Golly gee, let’s try that!) For me, if we’re gonna do this, I like the idea of continuing where the old show left off, just years later, rather than creating it with different actors. I hope there are at least more shows by PoC producers/writers than are reboots next year. ::crosses fingers::

“This is still a business where 90 percent of it is original.” For now, at least.

Ξ Two Boston University alum, Mike DiCenzo and Arthur Meyer, are on the writing staff for the Tonight Show and they spoke to BU Today about what it’s like to write for the show. I’m no comedy/stand up writer, but I love The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. As Arthur says,

“It’s a very sincere show, a positive show,” says Meyer. “It’s not steeped in sarcasm. It celebrates more than it takes down.”

These are the things I love about the show. While being a TV writer is hard and challenging and daunting to think about, being a sketch/stand-up comedy writer sounds even more frightening.

The job requires a thick skin: Meyer estimates that while he writes about 25 or 30 jokes a week, only about one actually makes it on the air.

I’ll stick to trying to write narrative stories, thanks.
Ξ And finally:
 

This is probably true. Until next time, clickers!

ConStar Clicks

Wow, I’ve really been slacking on these haven’t I? And I’m going on vacation next week, so there likely won’t be one next Friday. But no one seems to read these so, raise your hands if you care and I’ll be more consistent.
Anyway, here are a few interesting things I’ve come across this week!
Ω I watched the below TEDxTalk on television as social conscience. I found it of course to be true (television both reflects and changes our society) and I appreciated Lauren Zalaznik’s research in investigating how people felt about the television they were watching and how that changed over time. Seeing the graphics she presents with the rise and fall of comedy vs judgement and the other comparisons she makes with the knowledge of the socio-political issues we know happened during those eras really puts things into perspective. It’s about 15 minutes, check it out if you can.
[ted id=1224]
Ω I really liked this interview in Color Web Mag with writer Sanjay Shah who writes for Fresh Off the Boat. I love that show so much! I’m glad it’s getting the spotlight it deserves. And I hope it leads to more colorful families on TV and that networks aren’t satisfied with having Fresh and blackish fulfill the diversity quota that we always seem to be limited by.
Ω Lilla Zuckerman writes on the Save the Cat website on different kinds of television act breaks that you can look for when watching TV or use when writing it. I’ll definitely have to come back to this page.
Ω And just for fun: Hundreds of boxes of Twizzlers spill onto Pennsyvania highwayRostraver Central Fire Department

ConStar Clicks


I’ve been slacking on the #Clicks lately, I know. I’ve been either writing elsewhere, trying to finish my spec script, or watching Pulp Fiction for the first time. Also, haven’t found that many worthy articles. But, here are a few things, including some shameless self-promotion.
This just in! The Emmy’s have cleaned-up their category rules: comedy’s are now defined as series 30 minutes or less (blocking shows like Orange is the New Black and Jane the Virgin from being nom’ed in the Comedy category), but have also expanded categories selections from 5 to 7 nominees to make room for the crowding. As James Poniewozik said,
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Appreciate Emmys trying to clarify, but real issue is a lot of best TV today is neither strictly drama/comedy http://t.co/RmlLrEP8ZD
— James Poniewozik (@poniewozik) February 20, 2015
There simply just needs to be a dramedy category (adding two slots per category basically gives Dramedy 4 slots if you just include Best Comedy/Drama. Instead of squeezing everyone between two, spread the love between three!), as I explain here: The Emmys Need New Categories. The article also says that “guest” stars who are in more than 50% of the series episodes are no longer eligible (which, though I love her, is how Uzo Aduba won for OitNB. Not fair to actual guest actors and not fair to her for not being allowed to submit for supporting actor!).
This LA Times article discusses how the diverse TV shows this year—and their phenomenal ratings—means that people are finally seeing that black shows (by nature of the shows presented) and diverse casts are winning this year. From Scandal beginning the wave to How to Get Away with Murder, Empire, and Black-ish all seeing increases—some record breaking—in their already high, premiere ratings, does this mean execs are finally seeing the value in diverse content? I surely hope so. And as much as I love Shonda Rhimes, I hope she is paving the way for more opportunities from other people of color and that ABC in particular aren’t just going to continue to default to her for their diverse offerings. Follow her example and find others to nurture and support and give their own platform. Though written before Fresh Off the Boat‘s premiere, I know that show also has premiered with fantastic numbers that I see increasing when competing time slot shows Parks and Recreation is over and The Flash is on hiatus for a month.
The Dangers of Binge Watching. Loved this humorous take on how addicting marathoning and bingeing can be. We’ve all been there… Binge Hangover.
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I wrote ‘In Defence of Felicitybecause of an article that boiled her arc on this season’s Arrow down to being “a woman scorned.” The author seemed upset that her writing had reduced her, but I felt that the post reduced her and didn’t see that there’s more going on in Felicity’s head than just her failed relationship with Oliver. Click through to read my thoughts and check out the original piece.
This week’s recaps by yours truly: Castle, Arrow.
Finally, I’ll be hanging out over on the Entertainment Weekly Community, where fans get to ramble about and write recaps for TV shows they love. It’s a pretty exclusive community, so I’m really excited to join in! For my first post, I wrote about the similarities between two of my favorite shows: Angel and Arrow. TV side-by-side: ‘Angel’ and ‘Arrow. I’ll also be doing Nightly Show round-ups and Angel nostalgia recaps.

ConStar Clicks

#ConStarClicks No. 6 features some writerly advice form Eric Haywood, the evolution of Nickelodeon's kidsitcom format & some Larry Wilmore praise. Click at your own risk!

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ConStar Clicks

Playhouse 90 TV Anthology
As a media studies major, one of the first things I learned in my television history class was that it started out as being simply televised plays* EDIT: or televised radio shows. TV scripts are called “teleplays” for a reason. A lot of early series are presented as one-act plays for the small screen, lots of anthology shows, where each episode was a different story. Philco Television Playhouse Teleplay AnthologyThe most famous, perhaps, might be The Twilight Zone or Alfred Hitchcock Presents, both featuring mysterious, science-fiction, and horror/thriller type stories, but others were more explicit in their titles like Playhouse 90 (90 minute teleplays) and the Philco Television Playhouse. Both media are heavily focused on dialogue and character, with plot being often secondary. This article in The Atlantic on the trend of playwrights also writing for television and vice versa doesn’t talk as much about the history of early television plays as much as I would like, but it’s interesting the way things cycle back around.
 It’s been a minor struggle all of my life that the shows that I like don’t get major award recognition. This article over at the AV Club finally talks about this struggle. I watch “mid-reputable” television. I’m usually not interested in the prestige shows. The Mad Mens or the Homelands or the Boardwalk Empires. I gave Breaking Bad a shot, but I wasn’t as into it as everyone else. Recently, The Wire had a marathon on HBO, and I just didn’t feel like starting it. But the shows listed in this article: Sleepy Hollow (once I catch up and the show redeems itself), Jane the Virgin, Arrow, The Flash, etc (all genre shows you’ll notice) are more my jam. I spent my teens loving Charmed and Angel, Chuck, Pushing Daisies, Dollhouse and I still miss 30 Rock and need to find all the waffles to cope with the last season of Parks and Recreation. None of these shows were ever ratings darlings or big award winners. What do these shows get? They’re so often sidelined, “There’s less of a sense that TV buffs have to watch these shows to stay current,” and when they are nominated, it’s rare for them to get recognized a second time (I’m looking at you, Brooklyn Nine-Nine).

“Astute TV watchers may hope that Tatiana Maslany will get nominated for her work on Orphan Black, but they also know—or should, anyway—that it’s a longshot.”

— True, but it hurts, because she’s just as good — better even — than the usual players on the prestige dramas that always get nominated!
I think this line in the article is really important, as it reminds me that while the Emmy’s may not recognize my shows for awards, that it doesn’t really matter. “And if in the end we’re all more excited about a new episode of The Flash than The Affair, maybe that says something about what’s really the best that TV has to offer.” Because while there are plenty of shows that are ratings, awards, and critical hits, I think the middle-ground shows make people happier. You look forward to them more, they often have lighter or funnier storylines.  (Isn’t it a wonder that the awards that typically don’t get nominated for Emmy and Golden Globe Awards are often winners of People’s Choice Awards?) And that feeling of joy and excitement to watch your show is more important than how many awards it gets or if the big wigs over at the New Yorker or the Times think it’s “art.”

Which shows really deserve these beauties? Just the popular kids? Maybe we need participation trophies for the middle ground shows that are working just as hard. But I guess that’s the People’s Choice Awards…

Shameless plug: Here’s an article I wrote last year about New Emmy categories we need. It basically would get recognition for a lot of midlevel TV shows out there in the Dramedy, Procedural, and Scif-fi/Fantasy genres.
♦ Want to know when your shows are returning or premiering this winter? Here’s a full list thanks to THR. Make sure to input them into your calendars so you don’t miss mid-season premieres! I definitely suggest Agent Carter, which I enjoyed much more than I’ve ever enjoyed Agents of SHIELD.
♦ Finally, as I venture into my first writing project of the year (a post coming on that soon), I probably need an app like this presented by the AV Club, that doesn’t let you use the rest of your computer until you complete the goals you set. It’s easier to get around the time limit (by not writing) than the word count limit. Though I’m sure if I write WRITING IS SO HARD over and over, I’ll hit it in no time. I won’t even copy and paste.
EDIT: Maybe I will go through some old textbooks for more blog fodder…