OK, look, someone has to say this.
Enough with the HBO stuff. We get it. They can show boobs. They even show other private parts when they want. They can use the much-vaunted F-bomb if they want! Heck, they peddled Sarah Jessica Parker as a sex goddess for years before anyone caught on to that racket.
But enough is enough.
I still get told to watch HBO “so that I can speak intelligently about television.” That’s an actual quote from my co-host on Words With Nerds. Of course, that was before True Detective apparently managed to disappoint everyone in existence.
I watched the first season of Game of Thrones. I can see the appeal to the D&D (or rehabbing D&D) crowd, because they get to see dragons, swords and boobs all in one spot, but otherwise…meh. I’ll grant you that Peter Dinklage is an incredibly gifted actor, but that would be true regardless of the show.
I watched Curb Your Enthusiasm when it was good, and since then have just reverted back to quoting Seinfeld. Which is sort of a testament to which finished stronger and was more memorable in the long run.
HBO was once the king of the TV landscape because they were willing to go outside the norms. But that landscape has shifted considerably since then, and worked within limitations that prove that whatever horizons HBO may have once expanded, it is no longer a necessity.
For every good season of The Sopranos there was, I can point to an AMC or FX show that trumped it since. And they did it with considerably more limitations, in a more competitive marketplace that couldn’t rely on pay-channel walls or the air of exclusivity.
The Sopranos completely collapsed by the end of it all, regardless of what you think of the ending. By contrast, The Shield and Breaking Bad not only sustained their excellence but finished so strong that they’re held as examples of how to close out a show.
In terms of comedy, Archer is nearly as great an achievement of absurdist humor as one unscripted Curb. There, I said it.
And as for drama, you’re actually seeing a resurgence on network with shows like Hannibal. Which you can watch for free!
So tell me why people are still telling me I need to watch HBO. Because I just don’t see it.