Tag Archives: television

Life Unexpected

TV stoffen met plumeau / Dusting the television with a feather-brush

After seven years of marriage, my wife and I have discovered a common passion, which is television. We find ourselves excitedly waiting for new episodes of our favorite shows to air. Sometimes we download them and watch series in marathon.

Maybe we’re just too busy with our everyday lives that we have no recourse but to be couch potatoes. Or maybe we just like the medium so much because of its convenience. And yet I think it’s deeper than that.

We’re not really TV persons. We barely have enough time to sleep or have time for ourselves, and spending time just sitting and watching is a luxury we can’t always just give in to. Heck, we can’t even watch the evening news in its entirety. But, perhaps, due to that fact, we’re consciously trying to use that downtime to spend quality minutes with each other. TV shows usually last for 43 or so minutes (sans the commercials), and so why not spend those 43 minutes of togetherness?

Add to that the fact that most of the shows that we grow a liking to are those with which we can relate, to some extent. Lately, our interest has been in this series called Life Unexpected. It’s not the most popular of shows, and it’s somewhere near the bottom of the US popularity/ratings ladder (considering the top 140 shows). But the series has a solid fan-base consisting of people who can relate to the show. It’s a story about family, albeit a quirky and unconventional one. It’s a story about loving in the face of difficulty, and understanding in the face of fear.

It’s not so much a drama as it is a lighthearted show. I find myself laughing out loud at the situations the characters are in, although online reviews elsewhere would also write about tearjerker moments. Truth is, being a young father, and having experienced dreadful losses in my family at this age, I have come to appreciate and relate to programs like this. It’s one of those shows where characters can be both the good guy and the antagonist. It’s one of those shows where you see how life can just drop a bomb on one character, who has to learn to deal with things. Yes, just like the rest of us.

I often tell my wife how I admire people who create and write good and watch-worthy TV series. As a struggling writer, one of my dreams is to write or create a concept that would eventually be produced as a pilot and then picked up by networks. It’s a far fetched dream, I know. But, I’ve read about someone who has gone that path and is now producing a show now in its second season. That person advises: just keep on writing.

And that’s just what I’ll do–along with watching, that is.

Will a Blog Survive Without an Audience?

CrowdSince we both started working from home, my wife and I developed a habit of watching movies on TV or DVD during evenings when we didn’t have much workload. Lately, every Thursday evening, we enjoy catching the latest episode of Harper’s Island, which is a grisly suspense series not for the squeamish. The premise is that at least one character is violently killed in every episode. And the killer is only revealed at or near the end of the series.

What a fun way to spend an evening–waiting and wondering who will die. Actually, part of the fun is that the actors are supposedly unaware of when their character will be killed off until the day the episode is taped. It only runs for one season, though–13 episodes. Sadly, the series itself has been killed off (what an appropriate use of words) because of plummeting ratings. The only consolation is that networks are not cutting it off without closure. Most networks will continue to air the series until the last episode.

The show seemed to have been overhyped. But as hype goes, it dies down pretty quickly, too. Or murdered violently, perhaps, as in the case of Harper’s Island. My take is that this kind of TV show has a very limited niche audience–probably made up of people with really twisted minds. After all, who’d want to watch people die?

This has made me think of blogs and blogging. Will a blog survive without an audience? Will a blogger remain passionate about writing even without a readership?

When I first started blogging back in 2003-2004, it was for personal satisfaction. I wrote with myself as my own audience. I kind of marveled at how I could easily publish content online. Of course, I’d been able to author websites since the late 1990s, but blogging made it all easier. Then I began to be the blogging equivalent of a stat whore, meaning I was growing obsessed with gaining visitors and page views and comment counts. And while my viewership did, indeed, grow, so did my thirst for more. I wanted to gain traction. I wanted online popularity. I wanted to be someone.

The problem with this kind of mindset is that one’s writing tends to favor only what the audience wants. You tend to turn back on your artistic goals in favor of the commercial ones. It’s like comparing a passionately-produced, masterfully-created indie film to a no-holds-barred, swashbuckling, multimillion-dollar, CGI-infested summer blockbuster. Sure, blockbusters can be artfully-created, too. But most of the time, art takes a backseat to box-office draw.

And at this point, I could perhaps say I’ve reached the pinnacle, and I’m now going back to my roots.

Unlike broadcast media, which relies on ratings, eyeballs and sponsors, a blog will survive with simply a niche audience. Blogs are inexpensive to maintain. The only important resource you have to invest in writing a good blog would be your time and effort. Unless you want to earn big bucks from CPC ads, affiliate products and text links, that is. But if your reason for blogging is writing in itself, and to achieve that self-assurance that you can write and you can self-publish, then you can get a total audience of just one reader, and you would still be happy.

And in some cases, that one reader would even have to be you.

Image credit: flickr/dreadfuldan