10.18.2006

Late-Night Pop Culture Ramblings

I had today off due to Institute Day here at the college, and so instead of sitting in Workshop tonight, I was watching 30 Rock. I've had a major crush on Tina Fey for a long time, so I was happy to get my one shot till mid-November of catching the show, which, though it's not The Office, did make me laugh out loud three or four times.

Prior to seeing the show, I'd read some magazine pieces that compared 30 Rock to Studio 60 because both shows are focused around an SNL-like variety show, even if one is a thirty-minute sit-com and the other is a sixty-minute drama. I caught about half an episode of Studio 60 a week or so ago, and, after watching 30 Rock, I can see a few similarities. (Each of the shows I saw, for instance, featured bits about the efficacy of test audiences).

Anyway. The thing I was thinking about tonight while watching 30 Rock, besides my crush on Tina Fey, was how both 30 Rock and Studio 60 are some sort of fictionalized reality television. I know, similar shows have been around in the past (Sports Night, for example), but I think there's something to the fact that two new shows on the same network feature this kind of format.

Let me backtrack: There was one moment last summer when I sat down to watch television at around seven o'clock, and at the time, we only had an antenna, so we could kind of watch NBC, CBS, ABC, and Fox. That night, I flipped through our four channels and every station featured a reality show of some sort. I'll admit to liking a few reality shows, but at the time, I was pretty blown away by the fact that this was the state of television: all reality shows. And I kind of asked myself, "Where does it go from here? We can't have reality shows forever, can we?"

I think that 30 Rock and Studio 60 are pretty much answering that first question for me.

To bring this (kind of) around to books: There is obviously a trend in publishing right now that favors non-fiction over fiction. This was brought up at a departmental meeting recently, and one of my colleagues mentioned that she thought this trend, ten or so years from now, would change, and that fiction would once again become favored. I was glad to hear her say such a thing, but after thinking about these new television shows, I wonder if publishers aren't going to seek out some sort of hybrid form of fiction and non-fiction to offer the public. I suppose one could say that James Frey and maybe even Augusten Burroughs and David Sedaris have been doing just that for the past few years. I don't think it's quite the same thing, though. There is this new book that comes out in a few weeks, though, by Dave Eggers that seems, based on what I've heard about it, to be blending the two forms in just the kind of way I'm talking about.

2 comments:

fringes said...

What a thoughtful post. I have been trying to increase my TV viewing so I'll know what people are talking about when they are talking TV. So far, I've tried The Amazing Race (like it), The Office (TiVo season pass so I won't miss an episode), My Name is Earl (funny) and Ugly Betty (pretty good. I like America Ferrar and I've long held a crush on Vanessa Williams). I couldn't get into Grey's Anatomy because I was too busy critiquing the script/writing. Maybe next week, I'll watch as a viewer and not as a critic.

Am I still on the post subject?

fringes said...

Dang...it's America Ferrera. I think it's George Ferrar.