Remember the old days? You know the days I'm talking about; when you'd come home from work or school, kick off your shoes, fix yourself a little something to eat and settle in for a solid night of TV watching. If you tuned in to Fox and didn't like what you saw, no problem! You still had ABC, CBS, NBC or (maybe) PBS to choose from. One of those options would surely work for you, right? Now, of course, watching television is a much different animal, with so many choices available that it can be hard to keep track during this era of peak TV.
Speaking of Fox, FX takes a look at the state of scripted television every year, and the 2020 Television Critics Association winter press tour has seen the cabler's CEO, John Landgraf, reveal just how many such shows viewers have to wade through to figure out what they want to watch. In December of 2019, Landgraf predicted that the number of scripted shows in the coming year would go above and beyond, with there being more than 530 originals. And, it turns out that he was correct, as data gathered by FX's research team showed there were 532 scripted dramas, comedies and limited series on air.
Well, that's a lot of staring at your TV and flipping through menus, isn't it? No wonder you gave up after two hours of searching through Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, Amazon, DC Universe, Apple TV+, CBS All Access and premium cable channels, located an old episode of Bob's Burgers on TBS and finally wiped the sweat from your overworked brow.
Obviously, this crazy number of scripted TV options, which, according to The Hollywood Reporter, represents an uptick of 7% from 2018, owes a deep debt of gratitude to streaming, especially with the additions of Apple TV+ and Disney+ last fall. And, while we all know it's good to have options, is it possible that more and more viewers are being crushed under the weight of so many possibilities?
I know that I've started many a show, liked it enough to watch a few episodes in a row...and then promptly forgotten it existed the next time I fire up my TV. Sure, I want to finish Why Women Kill, catch up on The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and finally give Euphoria a shot, but Henry Cavill is over here bathing all the time on The Witcher. How am I supposed to remember anything with that mess going on?
It's also become a lot more difficult to simply know where all of these shows are airing and how they air. Sure, you can pull out your phone and Google where to watch Yellowstone, The Morning Show or Lucifer, and whether you can binge them or need to wait for episodes to come out each week, but don't you miss just...knowing? If you were a fan, you knew when and where to find Charmed or Nip/Tuck back in the day, but with so many broadcast networks, cable channels, premium cable channels and streamers, it's just too easy to lose track.
Some will surely say that this peak TV moment is way better than the days where, if you couldn't find something to watch on TV, you either had to go to the movies, head to Blockbuster (R.I.P.) or turn your set off and like, read, talk to your family or do something else super nerdy. But, there's an argument to be made, I think, for keeping your options at least a teeny bit limited so you don't burn out on searching for a show you're in the mood for, throw in towel and just go to bed.