Hollywood’s great ‘missed opportunity’ — they want to be social activists, but?


For 11 1/2 years, because ON THE RECORD was live at 10pm eastern, I did not get home until midnight.  As a result, until I had the great fortune of moving to the 7pm time slot (and if you can’t watch OTR at 7pm live, DVR it!!), I did not watch much, if any, entertainment TV.  I watched movies on weekends but not entertainment TV because I was working nights. Now, having been out of the loop for 11 1/2 years as it relates to entertainment TV, I am checking it out, even catching up on series, and I have some thoughts about it.

Entertainment TV is the great missed opportunity for many.  I often read of actors making statements about how to improve the world but their tweets, or random red carpet remarks — or even attaching their names to some cause is so small compared to what they could do.   They could help lift the nation. If they really care, show us.  If they don’t, with all their talent, they are missing a big opportunity.

Many really successful series start out great and grab viewers’ attention…and then end up depressing.  I just watched the season finale of Scandal and I don’t know about you, but I am ‘over’ the hand wringing between Fitz and Olivia. Their relationship is now dull – either get married or go their own ways but this endless hand wringing – and glorification of cheating – is ruining the show as it does not advance the story.  But that is just one small point and that is probably just me.

The big point?   Scandal, a very successful show, is  unnecessarily violent at times.  One episode this fall opened with graphic video of a man pulling a woman’s teeth out with pliers and it went on and on and on.  If it is already the #1 show (or at least extremely popular) long BEFORE it showed something this violent – and it was very violent – it did not need to go there.  It achieved #1 status without that – so why go there?  They don’t need it.

And Grey’s Anatomy? Depressing.  I never feel good after watching that.  I always wonder at the end, why did I watch that?  It is depressing. Great acting, but depressing.  It would not take a lot to add something to the plot to make it less depressing, almost inspiring.

I tried HBO and watched a few episodes of the Enlightenment series.    I know women, mothers and corporations just like those depicted in Enlightenment which might make it more depressing to me.  Great acting, and great scripts, but depressing.  Why did I watch so many episodes?  Maybe I kept thinking it would change?  An uplifting ending?  If it led me to feeling great at the end it would be worth watching but after a few episodes, it did not – although the story could have taken me there.  That is a missed opportunity for the show creators. (PS I have not watched it all.  I will stick with this series and watch some more, and if in the end the woman is not demeaned by others as she is in the shows I have seen, and actually is successful and changes things as she dreams to do, I will be a satisfied customer.  The acting is great, the script is great, but I want the character to do well in life, not get beaten down.)

And sitcoms?  Many (most?) vulgar.  I have not seen them all, but I have seen a handful.

My husband says, ‘try Blue Bloods.’  It is different.  It is a ‘feel good’ series.   OK, I will.  And  yes, I concede, there are many good shows but these shows I mentioned are hits.   People are watching them in the millions.  I also admit no one is tying me up in the basement and making me watch any of these shows.  NCIS is another good show.  It does not take violence too far and great acting.

But here is the point of this posting, with all of Hollywood wanting to be great social activists,  attaching themselves to all sorts of causes and political campaigns, maybe they could start by making their craft one that lifts us up?  They have a powerful platform and it is possible to tell a good story, be edgy and entertaining, and yet make a serious point for all of us viewers, without going too far or dragging people down.    They have our attention…so why not take advantage of their crafts, their great talents and their platform and make the nation feel a bit better?  make the nation think, yes, we can?