7 Ways to Increase Television Mediocrity

Spread the love

I love mindless entertainment as much as the next guy. But let’s be honest: A lot of the stuff just isn’t so great.

A lot is a workshop in mediocrity, a concept I’d like to explore today.

The Background Show


I have recently embraced a type of TV show perfect for certain situations. I call them background shows.

What’s a background show?

It’s a show that is entertaining enough that it’s fun to have on in the background while doing other things. But it’s not good or clever enough that it demands all that much of my attention. So it’s perfect to have going while washing dishes, folding laundry, or stretching. But I wouldn’t call any of these shows particularly good, nor would I recommend them to just about anybody.

And it’s always ideal that the show has lots of episodes, so it’ll last a while and I won’t have to spend much time looking for the next method to completely zone out and do the mundane.

After doing this long enough, I feel like I have learned way too much about the secrets to mediocrity., since these show excel at mediocrity. If you want to know how to make a show that will never cross the threshold from “meh” to fantastic, read on.

1) Mediocrity and the Existential Threat


Some shows never give you a chance to breathe. Every moment is an existential threat, and it starts to feel old. Real quick.

A great example of a mediocre show I “watched” while doing other things was Suits.

I apologize to any lawyer folk out there, but I find it a bit hard to believe that law can be this thrilling and exciting all the time. Especially corporate law. But I find it even harder to believe that multiple times a year your firm can be facing extinction.

How often can someone be out to destroy everything you’ve done to build up your company? How often are mistakes made that threaten your existence and might leave half the firm disbarred?

I’m going to go out on a limb here and assuming it’s not so often at all.

I understand that things need to get wild and crazy to make a legal drama interesting; however, if your topic is not all that thrilling… maybe it’s a sign that you should pick a different topic.

2) Too Much Story, Not Enough Character


I seem to keep stumbling upon shows that focus too much attention on the story, and forget that the characters need to have distinct (and interesting) personalities as well.

Any show is going to made up of the unique interactions of all those involved with the story. In all honesty, if the characters are great and interesting, and the dynamic between them is flowing and fantastic, the story becomes less important.

But if the dull and utterly unmemorable characters of Locke And Key or Manifest are just robots clunking around through a mediocre storyline, you’ve created a one-way path toward mediocrity.

3) Everything is Shiny and New in the Realm of Mediocrity


Shows also add to their lack of believability by making everything a big deal, and everything some wild new innovative experience.

For example, in the Good Doctor, where every day they’re doing some groundbreaking surgery that’s never been considered before.

And yes, I suppose if they didn’t do this, the show would feel extremely repetitive. They can’t just remove someone’s appendix every episode. But if every time they’re doing things bizarre and out of the ordinary, at some point it starts to feel forced and wildly unrealistic.

4) Lost… Like Lost


A common problem I see is a lack of direction. I’m not saying a show needs to be mapped out from start to finish. Nor am I saying the writers should remain rigid to all ideas they have. In fact, the ability to be malleable could have turned some rubies out there into diamonds. How I Met Your Mother was a very funny sitcom infamous for one of the worst endings in television history. And this came about because the writers stuck with the vision of an ending they conceived at the outset, one that no longer worked after nine long seasons of the show’s development.

Nevertheless, if we learned anything from the phenomenon turned dumpster fire known as Lost, a show needs to have some level of direction. Otherwise it feels like the characters are just running in useless circles, nothing makes any sense, enormous plot holes are repeatedly exposed, and when the show is forced to end, it will likely be uber-disappointing. Yes, I’m looking at you The 100.

5) Adding the Useless and the Inane


In addition, when a show has no direction, it will often introduce things that have no place. It could be new plot points, or characters, or something completely ridiculous, like an escaped tiger. But once that element is introduced, we’re all stuck with it until they decide to get rid of it.

But it creates bizarre, disjointed plots. And I have no idea why the writers don’t try and think these things out in advance. I mean, they’re the ones who will now be stuck trying to make their silly show work. Why wouldn’t they want to think where it could all be headed?

Perhaps it’s a lack of creativity. Or just an unfortunate end of ideas.

6) Deja Vu

And speaking of a lack of creativity and a dearth of ideas… I feel if you watch long enough, you’re bound to see plots repeated again and again.

I can’t tell you how many times I’m watching something and I think, “Gee, I’ve already seen this.” When a show is getting stale, it’s time to pack it up and get out of there.

Even the greatest shows will eventually start spinning wheels. It’s better to recognize when you have nothing left to give than to just start rehashing plots of other shows.

7) Going a Little Too Far


Finally, most shows are just slight variations on previous shows. The Good Doctor is a typical medical drama, but one of the surgeons happens to be autistic. Imagine what would happen if that character left the show. It would have absolutely nothing to distinguish it from the endless episodes of other medical dramas.

It would be like carrying on the Walking Dead after they completely cured whatever was causing the zombie disease. Then it’s just a show about angry southerners, without anything to hold a viewer’s interest.

Yet, some shows will eliminate the thing that made the show worth watching in the first place, and just keep going like there’s any point.

Suits was about a fraudulent lawyer. He was caught, imprisoned, released… and then became a real lawyer. Which then made the show just some corny legal drama, about a corporate law firm. Fascinating…

Designated Survivor was about an unlikely person who ended up president after the elected president and all of those in line to succeed him were killed in an attack. There was turmoil. We need to catch the people who did this!

And then they did… and we’re just left with a silly political drama with absolutely nothing separating it from any other show.

I can carry on forever.

There are endless things that can make a show wallow in forever mediocrity. I don’t get it. I don’t get why you would create a show if you aren’t at least attempting to make something amazing. Why create a work of art just because you need to spit something out? Do you have no shame? No integrity?

Why fill the world with nonsense?

Or are you just trying to make it so I don’t really care all that much about your mediocre program as I scrub a few dishes? (In which case… thank you.)

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Scroll to Top