Fictional tv-shows have become boring. Fiction simply no longer entertains as it once did. Reality has overtaken it in intrigue, suspense and plot-twists. I remember binge watching Netflix’s House of Cards. It was suspenseful and I watched episode after episode back-to-back. Now, in the age of Trump reality is what is really entertaining. If we take a trip through memory lane we can all remember the classic moments from the campaign trail. We used to have to suffer through a lot of filler content in tv-episodes to get to the good parts. Now we livestream political events glued to the screen waiting for the next memorable moment. The guy storming the stage at an event in Ohio, the Secret Service rushing Trump of stage in Nevada, the epic debate moments “because you’d be in jail”, bringing the Bill Clinton accusers to a pre-debate press conference, “look at these hands” and so many more. Reality has the benefit of actually having an impact on our lives in addition to providing entertainment.
Fiction in response has to ramp up their tension and action level to compensate. This is a risky proposition. If our suspension of disbelief is stretched too far the content becomes lame. I remember vividly watching an episode of Homeland season 5. A plane blew up in midair. It was a minor onscreen element and the story quickly progressed. It didn’t feel to me like it had much meaning. When scriptwriters begin to throw in elements like this without providing the necessary time to chew through the context and aftermath it fails to provide meaning. It leaves me as a viewer feeling unsatisfied. Reality on the other hand has endless amounts of different channels and blogs providing background information and analysis. I can consume as much as I want at my own pace. Fiction now fails to satiate this desire.
To be fair, books still retain their entertainment value. As I argued in a recent post about books, they can offer something films and series cannot. It is actually a good symbiosis between books and reality. I eagerly look for books about the exciting presidential campaign and presidency of Trump. Reality meets the literary world. Now the show House of Cards holds significantly less appeal than it used to. It would take a lot to surprise or amuse me. Similar shows have been outplayed by actual events. Recent plotlines in different series lack originality and inspiration (like much of Hollywood these days, with their remake binge) they rehash stuff from the headlines and spritz on some of their own politics on top.
Reality offers so much rich, engaging and attention-grabbing “content” to pick from that it has become difficult to consume it all. Travelgate, Filegate, Lincoln Bedroom, Cattle Futures and Whitewater just to mention a few Clinton scandals that Trump didn’t mention much or at all during the campaign. Just think about that for a moment. Think about how wild the campaign was, and then realize that he didn’t even use all the ammunition that was available. Trump held back. Fiction seriously needs to step up its game. In the Trump era I can’t wait for the next Trump press conference, eagerly anticipating the next “You’re fake news!”. Livestreaming press conferences with Spicer. If you had told me back in 2015 that I would be sitting in front of my computer watching press briefings from across the Atlantic I would not have believed you.
We certainly live in interesting times.