I used to think so, until I started watching Big Love. Though I can't afford HBO, so I download that... And there's always re-runs of Friends and The Simpsons.... ALWAYS. Oh and Everyone Loves Raymond... Zzzz...
Never before has TV been this interesting, complex, and exciting.
Pretty much. Back in the late '50s, early '60s, in the anthology boom -- Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Twilight Zone -- there was some stuff going on. It's really only the last decade that the medium seems to have found its feet, though, as a dramatic platform.
The trick is not to watch television for the sake of television; it's to look into specific shows, and treat each as you would a novel.
As someone once said, "90% of everything is crap." It's true of TV. But that 10% is fantastic and worthwhile. The best TV of the last 10-15 years is better than anything that came before, but suffers by association with the dregs of TV like reality shows, soap operas and local news. No one ever criticizes someone for reading a book, no matter the quality. Unfortunately, TV viewers are not afforded the same luxury.
Aside from that, TV is a medium that allows us a group experience that nothing can quite match. Things like the moon landing, the fall of the Berlin Wall, inaugurations, sporting events. It gives us a shared point of reference.
Those who denigrate TV by calling it "sub-literate dreck" or the like not only identify themselves as elitists with contempt for their fellow man, but miss the point entirely.
Everybody have fun tonight. Everybody Wang Chung tonight.
Don't watch it, don't own one, have no clue who is the newest sensation for killing his wife, her daughter or what sports/music star is in what sex scandal.
Frankly I think dummy box is very fitting and while I will watch things from time to time on my computer I have no interest in wasting my life watching other people do things on television. Nor do I care to listen to people pontificate any of the aforementioned topics.
So yes, TV in excess of say 5 or 6 hours a week is for mindless Americans if you ask me.
Unfortunately you are asking us to treat TV as a novel, but they are entirely different mediums.
They're different media in that they are based in a different study -- just as painting studies a different form from sculpture, and theater studies a different form from videogames. The television drama and the novel are similar in that they're both long-form standards derived from a shorter format -- film and the short story, respectively.
It's old hat to point this out, but any new medium is considered trash when it first appears. This goes back at least to the nineteenth century and the novel. No, wait! Polyphonic music, in the renaissance.
The television drama serves to express ideas that could not be expressed the same way in other forms. It has its own rules, its own language, as does any medium.
Its value comes not in the inherent qualities or potential of the medium so much as in how competently that medium is exploited, and to what expressive end. And right now, as of the last decade or so, it's being exploited properly, competently, to say worthwhile things. Not always; sometimes. So that is in how its value must be judged.
Doesn't mean you have to take an interest. There's more than one form of literacy, though. Words ain't any more noble than brush strokes or strips of celluloid. It's all communication; all abstract. If you aren't willing to leave your baggage at the door, that ain't the medium's fault.