The new “King of camp?”

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  • Boidiva02
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    #270952

    When he was alive, my idol Aaron Spelling was often considered TV’s master of “giggle TV” or “trash TV”, he specalized in shows with camp and shows that mostly weren’t mean to be taken seriously.

    His work defined the era in which it aired, from the late 1970’s and into the 2000’s he was masterful at creating and nurturing multiple hit TV series and creating classics that endure.   This is a special skill set and though often overlooked, is something I feel currently TV is missing.

    Do you think these kind of escapist fare can ever find a home on TV again?

    The thing I most admired about Mr. Spelling is that even though he often created shows with very light concepts he always infused some sort of social awareness into his series; especially his later works in the 90’s.   I am curious if you think this kind of work can be successful again and if there is anybody currently doing these kind of series?

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    SaraR
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    #270954

    When he was alive, my idol Aaron Spelling was often considered TV’s master of “giggle TV” or “trash TV”, he specalized in shows with camp and shows that mostly weren’t mean to be taken seriously.

    His work defined the era in which it aired, from the late 1970’s and into the 2000’s he was masterful at creating and nurturing multiple hit TV series and creating classics that endure.   This is a special skill set and though often overlooked, is something I feel currently TV is missing.

    Do you think these kind of escapist fare can ever find a home on TV again?

    The thing I most admired about Mr. Spelling is that even though he often created shows with very light concepts he always infused some sort of social awareness into his series; especially his later works in the 90’s.   I am curious if you think this kind of work can be successful again and if there is anybody currently doing these kind of series?

    Good question. I’m really only familiar with BH 90210 and parts of 7th Heaven. I enjoyed some aspects of BH 90210, but more in a nostalgic and, yes, “trashy” way. It was a guilty pleasure. 7th Heaven I found extremely preachy and syruppy, and it really is not my kind of program but I recognize it fit into a nice niche on the WB for many years.

    But back to your question. I don’t think, right now, that type of show — light, campy, “giggly,” as you put it — can survive today. Everything these days is dark, darker, darkest. Shows like The OC ushered in a type of self-aware “guilty pleasure” show. And for the most part, TV these days is just becoming smarter overall, but also sexier. Remember in the first season of Gossip Girl when they ran those series of ads with huge banners like “OMFG” and tags like “Highly inappropriate!” or “Don’t let your kids watch this!”? That was kind of risque advertising, as far as I remember, in 2008. And today I think that’s par for the course.

    Meanwhile the biggest hit this TV season is The Walking Dead, a show about zombies and blood and gore-type violence. Shows like Breaking Bad, The Following, Justified, Sons of Anarchy, and Game of Thrones are also incredibly violent and increasingly dark.

    While the Big 4 networks may be accused of being too “safe” in terms of their programming, I’m just not sure the type of show you remember so fondly could float even on these broadcast networks. Being “bland” is the worst thing a TV show could be these days, because there’s so much content and so little programming hours. High concept–the hook–is key. Execs don’t want to make you “giggle,” they want to make you laugh hysterically. “Social awareness” is not nearly as important as self-awareness. Be a guilty pleasure TV show but make it known that you are one. It’s very easy for a show to become preachy about a social issue. I can’t remember the last time I saw a “very special episode” of a TV show. We are post-everything in this society.

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    Boidiva02
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    #270955

    I think you summed it up well, its so sad because I really am very fond of the shows Mr. Spelling produced but I think you’re right there isn’t a place for them right now.   Hopefully in a few years this trend will change and at least some shows which are “lighter” will be popular again. 

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    BenitoDelicias
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    #270956

    I don’t know if this is the right answer, certainly doesn’t seem so because these shows haven’t been as iconic or succesful, but since SaraR already brought up his shows, I’ll comment on him: Josh Schwartz seems to be going into that direction of television that isn’t great, perfect, Emmy award winning, but it’s definitely entertaining. You can see a lot of potential on every single show he’s produced: Chuck, The O.C, Hart of Dixie, Gossip Girl, The Carrie Diaries. Some vary in the degree of greatness, I would go from Chuck as his highest point and Carrie as his lowest. But at the end of the day, he’s taking over this demographic and the CW in general. 

    At least he’s done very well with the 90210/Melrose part of Spelling’s career with O.C and Gossip Girl which were huge hits when they initially started. Gossip Girl was trendy as hell, The OC was actually a real ratings hit when it began. Both huge part of pop culture which end up being more significant than ratings years after. Chuck is his best show easily and showed he could do different things and I honestly believe that Hart of Dixie is extremely underrated.

    Having said all of that, I don’t consider Schwartz’s show to be anywhere close the level of camp Spelling did, but at least he’s pushing for that sort of prescence on television with the demographic Spelling ended up later in his career.

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    Riley
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    #270957

    Little-known fact: Before they brought J.J. Abrams and Damon Lindelof on, Aaron Spelling was to be the executive producer for what would become Lost.

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    SaraR
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    #270958

    I don’t know if this is the right answer, certainly doesn’t seem so because these shows haven’t been as iconic or succesful, but since SaraR already brought up his shows, I’ll comment on him: Josh Schwartz seems to be going into that direction of television that isn’t great, perfect, Emmy award winning, but it’s definitely entertaining. You can see a lot of potential on every single show he’s produced: Chuck, The O.C, Hart of Dixie, Gossip Girl, The Carrie Diaries. Some vary in the degree of greatness, I would go from Chuck as his highest point and Carrie as his lowest. But at the end of the day, he’s taking over this demographic and the CW in general. 

    I was a regular viewer and devoted fan of The OC, and while I’m less familiar with Schwartz’s later work, I do think he’s probably this generation’s answer to the type of producer Spelling was, at least in his domination of programming with a teenage target audience. If anything I’d say The OC is a response to shows like BH 90210. While the plot was always pretty outlandish, the writing had heart and a sense of humor about itself that probably separates it from “campier” fare. That’s not to say that BH 90210 didn’t have heart or wasn’t funny, but I do think our collective tastes have changed greatly in the 20+ years since 90210 premiered. I think audiences are just looking for smarter material in general, and the humor is more ironic, less “sweet.”

    One example that comes to mind, of a show that was pretty ahead of its time in its tone and story, is My So-Called Life, which aired from 1994-5. That was a “teen” show but it did things much differently than 90210 did. (I read a quote from a 90210 writer that they’d watch episodes of MSCL and say to themselves “that’s how we should have done that story about [coming out, alcoholism, overdosing, pressure to have sex, etc.].”) For one, the characters weren’t very wealthy, and the adults had plotlines that were treated with as much care as the teenagers. It was very self-aware, extremely introspective, and most of all relatable. The plotline, setting, and characters weren’t escapist. They were almost uncomfortably true to life.

    In 2013, I do think there is a place for “escapist” television (the Bravo Real Housewives franchise has capitalized on this excellently), but TV shows are also increasingly portraying realistic-looking characters and realistic-sounding stories. Shows like Parks & Rec or The Office have realistic-looking people are find humor in normal, day-to-day life. On the drama side of things, a show like Parenthood finds compelling stories but I’ve never heard the term “campy” or “trashy” used to describe it. I’m not so sure about the teenage side of things, but shows do seem to just be getting smarter. On ABC Family, Bunheads is targeted toward teens and adults and the writing is smart and doesn’t look down on its audience either. Switched at Birth just did an episode entirely in sign language, from the point of view of one of its characters. Pretty Little Liars is the most “guilty pleasure”-y of them all, but from what I’ve read it’s pretty dark, too — cyber death threats and all that. Light is just not in fashion right now.

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    Boidiva02
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    #270959

    Little-known fact: Before they brought J.J. Abrams and Damon Lindelof on, Aaron Spelling was to be the executive producer for what would become Lost.

    And that is partly because in 1969, Spelling produced a similar series called “The New People” for ABC that was also about plane crash survivors, though that series has very few similarities to what became “Lost”.

    Aaron was actually hired to write a draft of a potential pilot for what would become “Lost”, but ABC decided to pass on this version of the series and instead hired Lindelof and Abrams. It was Abrams who introduced the idea of supernatural elements into the script.

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