Why you can never beat '90s television

By Christopher Rosa ,

As a college student, Spring Break is quite uneventful if you are not going to some tropical getaway with your friends. Since I opt to always be a good student over wasting seven days at a dirty beach, my SB downtime usually centers on the television. However, in a sea of awkward docu-comedies, overdramatic teen soap operas and reality romps, I find myself reaching for my Will & Grace DVDs instead of actually watching television. And I tend to do this whenever I am in the mood to watch television.

The truth of the matter is the '90s (and early '00s!) are without a doubt the golden eras of television. While executives today attempt to rekindle the magic of '90s television with every new comedy, they tend to fall short almost every time. Of course there are some gems out there— Modern Family, Parks and Recreation and Homeland—the majority of television is, well, uneventful.

In order to illuminate this point, it is important to examine television from two important angles: television of the '90s and television today. What made latter-day television so fantastic was that every element a viewer could want in a good show was supplied in abundance. Fantastic acting, style, comedic or dramatic rhythm and consistency were all at the forefront of '90s television.

Take Friends. The iconic sitcom premiered in 1994 and had a long run before gracefully going off the air in 2004. The comedy, starring Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry and David Schwimmer, has a legacy of making great writing a priority. This, mixed with the comedic timing of the actors, made for a show that will stay cemented in television history. Will & Grace, as I mentioned earlier, also has a legacy of comedic intelligence. Director James Burrow would routinely close his eyes and “listen” to the jokes during takes of the show; the end result was a show with a focus on humor musicality.

Of course, the '90s were not all about sitcoms. Sex and the City, Law & Order and 90210 all premiered in the '90s and have a legacy of excellence in their respective genres.

So how do we fix today’s television? Directors, executives and actors need to focus on substance instead of style. Do not follow trends and march to the beat of your own silver-screen drum.



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