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:

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Last Week in Recaps (Castle & iZombie x2); plus a look at Netflix’s Sense8

It’s almost the end of the TV season, and thus the end of my mad dash for recap updates here on the blog. Here are the recaps I did last week, for Castle and iZombie. Still working on that Arrow recap and this week’s Castle season finale. Also, I took a look at the trailer for Sense8, the new Netflix series coming to Netflix this June directed by the Wachowski siblings (you know, The Matrix). Click on through!

Castle 7.22 Review: Dead From New York

CastleThe penultimate Castle of the season dealt with the death of late night comedy mogul Sid Ross, a Lorne Michaels proxy. With all the shots taken at SNL in the episode, it makes me wonder if there’s a writer who was jilted by the show at some time in their career. While it starts off as a fun episode, it takes a few kind of unnecessary turns before turning into a minute long Carly Rae Jepsen show (a desperate attempt for younger viewers?). Still a fun episode.

NOC Recaps iZombie: Baby Mama Brain Drama

NOC Recaps <i>iZombie</i>: Baby Mama Brain DramaiZombie is continuing to win me over. Though the cases are fairly uninteresting, I love the characters and the way they weave Liv’s lessons with the power of the week, even if she usually regresses afterwards.

NOC Recaps iZombie: Shock Jock

NOC Recaps <i>iZombie</i>: Shock JockRAVI NOOO! That was my main concern as I ended this week’s iZombie. That and: hey if Ravi becomes a zombie, maybe we’ll find out if zombies of color turn pale and have to do some absurdly unreal tanning in order to remain their beautiful brown selves.

Netflix’s Sense8 Trailer

I wrote about the trailer for Netflix’s Sense8, from the producers of the Matrix and Babylon 5 for HelloGiggles. They sent me the trailer and it looks really cool! Hopefully it pulls its mystery threads together in a way that a lot of shows post-Lost (and including Lost) never did.

Emmys: ‘Orange Is the New Black’s’ Uzo Aduba Makes a Plea to Voters Guest Column – The Hollywood Reporter

Emmys: ‘Orange Is the New Black’s’ Uzo Aduba Makes a Plea to Voters Guest Column – The Hollywood Reporter.

I’ve been neglecting this blog (and other writing) recently (life is getting super busy and I haven’t quite adjusted yet), but Emmy season is fast approaching and I hope to have more time to discuss shows as nominations approach in July.

So I may not be back, but I’ll hopefully post links to articles like this one. This one is especially important because it’s by a black actress making the case for diverse shows to get more Emmy recognition. Her show, Orange is the New Black, is of course an interesting contender: breaking out of the network and even premium cable mold, but it’s also female driven and has a lot of strong characters of color with increasingly important roles.

Check out the article and I’ll hopefully have more to share soon!

Highlights:

  • “The last series with a non-white cast to win the comedy Emmy was The Cosby Show in 1985.”
  • “The last woman of color to take the comedy actress prize was Isabel Sanford (The Jeffersons) in 1981.”
  • “Today, with the groundbreaking impact of Orange Is the New Black, it’s time for Emmy to not only redefine what a winning comedy is but also what “Emmy worthy” looks like.”
  • I love that she mentions Khadijah James (Queen Latifah) from Living Single.

From TV to the Web

From TV to the Web.

As the move to the web becomes more and more of an option for writers, the WGA put together some quotables from web series writers and creators. Check out the article and check out the series. I’m going to check out Caper, “about a group of superheroes gone rogue co-written with Mike Sizemore – streams on Wednesdays on Hulu, Hulu Plus and YouTube (the season finale is April 2),” because it totally fits my nerdy style.  And perhaps I’ll work on my web series/real show teaser idea… 

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Link: Who Creates Drama At HBO? Very Few Women Or People Of Color

Mo Ryan of the Huffington Post breaks down cable/premium channel lack of diversity (for both women and PoCs) in the last few years. The numbers are awfully lacking any kind of diversity. We think the networks are bad with this stuff and that premium/cable is the way to go, but their numbers are somewhat worse! Check the quote and click through for the article.

Audiences can and should take individual writers to task for problems they perceive in a given show. But as long as this debate is limited to individual dramas, and doesn’t consider the entities that commission and distribute them, the conversation is likely to go around in circles indefinitely.

via Who Creates Drama At HBO? Very Few Women Or People Of Color.

Netflix Says Binge Viewing is No ‘House of Cards’ – WSJ.com

The company Friday will reveal a snapshot of a phenomenon that is reshaping TV culture—viewers devouring shows in lengthy chunks, episode after episode. Executives say they found a strikingly consistent pattern in the pace at which people binge: In general, about half the viewers studied finished a season (up to 22 episodes) within one week.

Another finding: The majority of viewers only immersed themselves in one show at a time, rather than juggle several at once.

Interesting, short article about Netflix and bigne watching. If you can’t watch a season in a week (and I don’t mean a measly 13 episode season, I mean a full 22 episode season), then maybe you have more of a life than I do.

I find it interesting how people are now beginning to study binge-watching and that trends and patterns have emerged. They say 2013 was the year of binge watching and that Netflix has been around for 6 years, but I think I’ve been a part of the binge-watch community for even longer than that. Marathons, DVD season sets, and illegal streaming sites are things that I still own from before Netflix was around. Seems the rest of culture is catching up to what was once a sort of niche, nerdy activity.

via Netflix Says Binge Viewing is No ‘House of Cards’ – WSJ.com.

Why Are Black Sitcoms Less Available to Us?: Black Sitcom DVD/Streaming Distribution Disparity

Black Sitcoms Distribution Article Cover

In this digital age of streaming and DVD and Blu-ray, its seems we can watch anything we want, on any device we want, any time we want. Despite the number of networks and outlets available, there are what feels like the fewest black sitcoms on today. Compared to the heyday of the 80s and 90s, the lack of black sitcoms is especially obvious when you consider there is not one on network television. So you’d think we’d be able to go back to those great 80s and 90s TV shows to fill the void of black faces on our television screens. And yes, there are plenty of shows in syndication thanks to BET and TV One and other minority niche networks. But, as I said, in this digital age, you’d think we could watch whatever we want, whenever we want. This is not the case.

When I fell in love with A Different World this summer, I immediately went searching for it on the internet. I found it: terrible quality, 3-parts per episode YouTube videos. Ok. What about on DVD? Only season 1. Netflix? Nope. Hulu? Hasn’t even heard of the show. I currently have 30 episodes stored on my DVR thanks to TV One syndication. Then I thought of other popular black sitcoms and decided to do some research.

Shows like The Cosby Show, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, and Family Matters had major audiences. Diverse audiences even; these shows aired during some of the most popular ratings time slots on TV: The NBC Thursday Must-See-TV block and the ABC TGIF block. The first two shows have full series on DVD, but Family Matters remains at only 3 seasons of its total 9 on DVD and none on any of the major streaming sites. Martin and Girlfriends also have all their episodes on DVD, but again, no streaming. Other shows from these eras and time slots, some with lesser ratings or critical acclaim are available but not black shows.

Check out this chart I made, featuring about 48 black sitcoms spanning from the ’60s to the ’00s (only 1 currently running sitcom is on the list)(It’s a bit ridiculous that it only took me a couple of hours to compile this list. It should be a longer list).

Black Sitcom DVD Release/Streaming Chart

Black Sitcom Streaming Availability Chart

Preview of the chart. Click through for the full and most updated version.

Only a quarter of the series on this list have full DVD releases. Only 3 are available on Netflix. Only 5 are available on Hulu. Some can be seen on the WB website or other network/studio pages (not listed on the chart), but I’ve watched shows on the WB website before, it’s not a pleasant experience (perhaps they’ve made some changes).

Why are our shows not available to us? Why must we hunt through DVD bins and “Save Until I Delete” on our DVRs or suffer through terrible quality YouTube versions (missing episodes or muted scenes because of song copyrights)? Why did so many Wikipedia pages say “Season 1 was released on DVD, but future seasons haven’t been made available due to poor season 1 sales”? Are people really not interested? Or were those cop-outs for those companies (more often than not, these shows were distributed by Warner Brothers)? I know that in the case of A Different World, season 1 differs greatly from the other 5 seasons, so of course DVD sales were low. The fans were waiting for season 2-6 to come out. What about The Jamie Foxx Show or Living Single or The Bernie Mac Show? Who is preventing these shows from being available to the (African-) American people?

I put African in parentheses above because here’s the thing: if shows featuring black people aren’t made available to everyone–not just black people–then how will a wider audience of people come into contact with black shows? If they were available as easily as [insert random show that people rarely watch or talk about but is streaming], we could get more than just black people watching these shows. We could expand the typical audience of these shows to include other races and the next generation. And in doing that, we could inspire writers and producers and networks to give more black written/black-led TV shows a shot (especially on network television). Then, more people would have exposure to great television programs and then realize, oh right, the cast was all black.

I don’t know what the solution is. Petition letters for shows like A Different World and Living Single have gone around, but they don’t seem to do much good. Hopefully, Netflix and Hulu will reach out to the black audience. For goodness sake, in their “Categories” section, Hulu has a Spanish Sitcom section while Netflix has a Korean TV Shows section. Why is there no “Black Sitcom” section, why are those shows not available? Maybe we need to create a streaming site that can get the rights to black TV shows; but there are already so many ways in which black television is being propelled backward (maybe you feel this way about Tyler Perry shows, maybe you don’t, but you definitely can’t ignore the complete lack of any black sitcoms on network television–and only three black led dramas, two which premiere this season)–we don’t need to add segregation to the list.

Let your favorite streaming service know that Black Sitcoms are worthy of being viewed. Make them talk to distributors to give them the rights. And support syndication reruns. Somewhere, I’m hoping something will change.

Are there any black sitcoms I left off the list? Any that have DVD/streaming availability that I neglected to mention? How do you think we can get better access to black television sitcoms?

*CORRECTION* I miscalculated on the chart: there are 12 shows with full DVD releases. Not much better. It has been corrected.

Related post: https://constarstudiestv.wordpress.com/2013/07/24/constar-studies-90s-black-sit-coms/

Joss Whedon says:

“The goal is never about the medium. It’s always about the next story.”

~@josswhedon

In this day and age, the word “television” doesn’t always mean “watching on a television set in the living room.” This quote speaks to the power of stories and, considering it’s Joss discussing SHIELD, the power of television stories, regardless of the device people are watching it on. We don’t care about network (except to think about the kind of shows they bring us), we care about the stories and characters. So Netflix can bring us new stories/characters, Hulu, YouTube, NBC, ABC (ugh I guess CBS too -__-). As long as we get continuous stories (which is what TV provides us that movies, books, and plays can’t to the same extent).