Every week, IndieWire asks a select handful of TV critics two questions and publishes the results on Tuesday. (The answer to the second, “What is the best show currently on TV?” can be found at the end of this post.)
This week’s question: If you could get one wish granted for TV in 2018, what would it be? (Sky’s the limit since this is hypothetical. It could be about screeners, networks, the industry as a whole, a particular show, etc.)
Pilot Viruet (@pilotbacon), Vice
I’m just going to hope that everyone else makes the wish that rampant sexual harassment in the industry is magically, 100 percent fixed so I can instead wish for something else: Zoë Kravitz in more television shows. Cast her as Rosa’s girlfriend in “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” or a new wrestler on “GLOW,” or a badass vigilante in an episode of “Law & Order: SVU.” Or just give Kravitz her own show on FX and let her run wild! I’m not picky!
Allison Keene (@KeeneTV), Collider
I wish for a time-turner, like Hermione has in “Harry Potter,” so that I can watch more TV shows. I feel pretty good about everything I got through in 2017, but still have FOMO (which leads to an exceptional amount of stress) for every series I miss. According to recent calculations, that’s about 300+ shows I haven’t found time for this year. Being exceptionally selfish, I could say that I wish for about 300 fewer shows but, you know, amen to all of the creatives who are able to get their work out there because every possible platform is greenlighting so much new content. The problem with that, though, is that it’s that much harder to get noticed because viewers are overwhelmed.
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So maybe for 2018 my real-world wish is the Critic’s Prayer: to be granted the serenity to accept the things I cannot watch, courage to review the TV I can, and wisdom to know the difference.
Eric Deggans (@deggans), NPR
Since we’re allowing the unrealistic, I’m going to wish for the TV industry to realize that all the injustice it has tolerated — all the bullying, the sexual harassment, the prejudiced programming and stereotyping — is not just immoral and wrong. It’s not just craven and unfair. It is bad for business and it is bad for the programming itself. If this year has taught us anything, it’s that too much talent and creativity has been wasted on the altar of allowing successful, twisted men to indulge their horrific impulses.
How many talented female journalists left the business after a stint working for Charlie Rose, Roger Ailes or Bill O’Reilly? How many great writers or producers left after toxic encounters with Harvey Weinstein or Louis C.K.? How many women in my own news organization felt held back before NPR’s top news executive, Mike Oreskes, resigned earlier this year? I’ve wondered this, in the same way I’ve wondered how many wonderful artists of color were marginalized or ghettoized before the days of FX’s “Atlanta” and HBO’s “Insecure.” Or how many great shows starring women and people of color might actually succeed if they were given the same opportunities as shows starring white men.
It’s a simple fact: television is better when talented people of all genders and races can contribute. And in the age of #metoo, media companies are discovering that the lawsuits, recasting, public shame and missed opportunities that follow significant revelations of sexual harassment or toxic behavior have changed the game. It’s no longer worth tolerating bullies, jerks and narcissists, even if they are successful. And taking that lesson to heart would be the greatest holiday present those who run the TV industry could ever give to their employees and the world.
Alan Sepinwall (@sepinwall), Uproxx
There are a lot of very specific things I could wish for, like for Carrie Coon to join the cast of every show I like, but more globally, I would wish for every serialized TV show to figure out how many episodes are necessary to tell the story of that particular season, and to make exactly that many. No more streaming seasons that plunge in the middle, or take idiotic leaps towards the end, all justified because, “We’re making a 10-hour movie, man!” And conversely, no more seasons that feel rushed because this network or that service didn’t want to shell out for more than six or eight episodes. Tell the story the best and most efficient way you can, and then go away until you’re ready to tell the next story. Please.
Liz Shannon Miller (@lizlet), IndieWire
My one wish for TV in 2018 is that more actors find the roles they were meant to play. There’s something so deeply satisfying about those moments, watching great unrecognized talent get their showcase, and every chance I get to see capable folk recognized for their abilities is a great one.
Damian Holbrook (@damianholbrook), TV Guide Magazine
I would love to see an end of the fandom wars. It’s awesome that TV can inspire such devoted followings, create connections between strangers who can unite over a shared love and trigger so much discussion, but it has gotten downright ugly in some corners and it’s heartbreaking to witness. The online bullying, the name-calling, actors being dragged for daring to engage in an effort to smooth things over. These things do NO good. Journalists (myself included) have been accused of working for the networks or taking money for covering one ‘ship versus another (that is just not how it works, trust me. I would take much better vacations if that were the case), while producers and writers are routinely harassed and insulted for telling stories their way instead of the demands of the Twittering crowd.
Oh, and the instant calling for someone to be fired for a) saying the wrong thing, b) writing something that is deemed “problematic” before the entire plot plays out or c) not apologizing in exactly the way it is demanded by online mob? What the fuck? TV can be one of the greatest refuges, and fandoms do so much good for those who feel disconnected or not heard. They bring people together, help heal, represent diverse and exciting communities and show us all that we are not alone. I would love to see that side grow in strength and volume because the real world is a disaster that is hard to live in. Our escape from it shouldn’t be too.
April Neale (@aprilmac), Monsters & Critics
A return to DVD screeners. Seriously. Online screening is an anathema to me. I love a tangible pile of homework and a pen and pad in hand, my preferred way to tackle the TV tsunami. I appreciate press kits for the backgrounder intel (FX and Nat Geo take a bow) not to mention the pride a network has in presenting an event or series.
Also, more investment and money for newspapers to pay good TV critics who write for the fans and the general public and not to amuse themselves or industry people. That’s for the trades. Writers who care about what people really want to watch, and a more ethnically diverse array of TV writers at that.
Daniel Fienberg (@TheFienPrint), The Hollywood Reporter
As anybody who has ever found a lamp containing a genie knows, the first thing to wish for is ALWAYS more wishes. That way, I can blow some wishes on frivolous stuff like CBS canceling “Criminal Minds” or Noah Hawley coming up with a great idea for a fourth season of “Fargo” or a spectacular and satisfying final season of “The Americans” or to somehow get another spring with Carrie Coon on our TV twice a week or just for Amazon to figure out what the heck they’re doing.
If I were moving up to more substantive wishes, I’d also wish for the proposed Disney-Fox deal not to render Fox a vast wasteland of sports and “Paradise Hotel” reboots and for the deal not to result in thousands of lost jobs in an industry that can’t afford thousands of people to lose work just so that Mickey Mouse can have a few dollars more. But my most sincere wish is just for these rough past few months in Hollywood to have resulted in an industry in which power is more evenly distributed and less frequently abused, in which people aren’t afraid to say when they feel ill-used and in which the structures of power work actually work to benefit the greatest number of people and not only the showrunners or stars or executives it considers to be geniuses.
People have to feel safe and people have to feel heard, and clearly for the longest time they did not in Hollywood (and in countless other industries and professions that will eventually feel ripples from this wave of progress). And that’s making voices heard both in the public and professional sphere, but also in the creative marketplace. It’s all connected. This has been a difficult period, but it’s only worth it if the industry never fully returns to “business as usual” as it used to be defined. So my wish is that we’ve learned something.
Tim Surette (@timsurette), TV.com
My one wish for 2018 is for this glorious TV bubble that we’re currently in to not burst… at least not yet. Sure, we’re in a situation that’s completely unsustainable, what with the non-stop inundation of new television shows and everyone getting into the game while television is hot. But for all the whining we critics do about “too much stuff,” it gives us so many options that would never get made a decade ago.
There’s never been a better time for creativity and risk on television (that “one-shot” “Mr. Robot” episode and the “Nathan for You” finale happened in back-to-back days with little fanfare) and it’s been rewarding for everyone, no matter your taste. That’s because there’s something for everyone on television right now, whether it’s “Grace & Frankie” or “Rick & Morty.” And there’s hope this bubble will continue to grow in 2018 with Apple and others throwing cash to join the fight between Netflix and everyone else. But unfortunately, there’s even more reason to be worried, now that Netflix is refining its original slate with shorter leashes and Disney is buying everything near and dear to you to monetize it in 12-episode installments. It’s a phenomenal time to love television. Enjoy this while it lasts, however long that is.
Alternate wish: TV will stop showing that damn Apple earbud commercial.
Todd VanDerWerff (@tvoti), Vox
My 2018 TV wish is simple: Alec Baldwin stops playing Donald Trump on “Saturday Night Live.” Whether this is because “SNL” no longer needs a Trump impersonator because events conspire to remove him from the stage or because “SNL” realizes, at long last, that it should probably find someone who has something to say about Trump other than, “What an idiot!” I just want to be in a place where we can all acknowledge Baldwin is kind of terrible.
Joyce Eng (@joyceeng61), TVGuide.com
Every year since 2008 I wait for the new Emmy rules/changes announcement and every year I’m disappointed when they neglect to reinstate the individual variety performer category. This is — and used to be — the category in which “Saturday Night Live” stars competed and belong — not in the comedy acting races. Sketch performers with multiple characters should not competing against series regulars building one narrative arc throughout a season. And it makes no sense for “SNL” stars to compete in the comedy races while the show still competes in the variety sketch category. Yes, I know everyone was getting annoyed sketch performers and killer awards show hosts kept losing to Barry Manilow and Tony Bennett for singing. The solution: create more than one variety performer category. You just split the variety special categories into two, guys; you can do this too.
Ben Travers (@BenTTravers), IndieWire
So here’s how this would go down: I’d ask the genie for multiple wishes because there’s stuff I really want, but don’t need — like five more seasons of “The Grinder,” Carrie Coon on TV every week, and a serialized adaptation of “Babe” where Babe has lots of miniature pig friends and he’s raised by adorable cats instead of handsome dogs. Seeing where this is going, the genie would cut me off and tell me I can only have the one wish. I’d call bullshit, since the genie would still have to fulfill my wish for more wishes as my one wish, and we’d proceed to get into it over philosophical paradoxes and moral responsibility and honoring your word, even if you’re an Arabian spirit. In a standstill, the genie would offer a compromise (most arguments end in compromise simply because people get sick of arguing with me): two wishes.
So here they are:
1. FX and FXX original series are available to stream the day of or the day after airing. Personally (and most realistically), Hulu seems to be the best means to accomplish this, as the growing streaming service already has a pact with FX and could always use an additional boost of quality, real-time programming. I know there are ways to watch FX shows online — via FX NOW — but that requires a cable or satellite subscription, and that’s just not how my friends are watching TV right now, and that’s why I want this to happen: I’m sick of telling people to watch “Better Things,” “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” “The Americans,” “Baskets,” “Fargo,” “Legion,” “Atlanta,” and more only to be told they aren’t keeping up. They don’t have cable, so they can’t watch it until it hits Netflix or Hulu or wherever some six-to-12 months later. Sometimes it’s too long of a wait! “The Americans” is ending in 2018, and I want to talk about it with every single person alive!
2. OK, if you thought that was a selfish pick, wait ’til you read this: It would be great if my female colleagues — writers, but really, women across the industry, as actors, producers, and more creatives deal with this every day — could receive the same level of online vitriol as my male colleagues. The disproportionate amount and vehemency of social media-fueled hatred leveled at women is horrendous, to the point where it’s inconceivable for me to imagine what they read in their Twitter mentions or get in their public emails every day. Obviously, this issue is not isolated to entertainment or even to the internet, but I chose this wish for two reasons…
Though I could’ve wished not only for an internet, but a world where no one gets insulted or threatened, that seems like wishing for world peace: It’s too big of an ask. We all need to work for it and do our part, rather than wait for someone to snap their fingers. If they’re offering, I’ll take it — this just seems more feasible. But I’m not going to lie: I want less angry tweets sent their way so that they keep tweeting, keep pushing their work, and keep getting it in front of my eyeballs at every possible occurrence. I just want to read it, see it, and appreciate it, and these f’n trolls are a deterrent to my happiness. So please, oh magical wish granter, let’s set the Internet right. Then we’ll tackle the world.
Q: What is the best show currently on TV?*
A: “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” (four votes)
Other contenders: “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” (two votes), “The Crown” (two votes), “Mom,” “Snowed Inn Christmas” director’s cut, “Vikings,” and “Wormwood” (one vote each)
*In the case of streaming services that release full seasons at once, only include shows that have premiered in the last month.