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As the creator of two of modern television’s funniest shows, the politically-charged expletive fests The Thick of It and Veep, Armando Iannucci is a man who is unsurprisingly outspoken about where he feels the state of television is these days, although it possibly is surprising that he shares his opinions without dropping F-bombs and razor-sharp insults. And he makes a lot of sense, in that he sees TV’s current output in a “best of times, worst of times” kind of way. Those Brits and their Dickens.
While airing out his grievances with the U.K. government for how it has recently been handling things at the BBC – which boils down to massive budget cuts and having the corporation’s significance always in question – Iannucci championed the U.S. for placing creativity in higher regard, and made his case for why now is as important a time as any for the BBC to be recognized for its quality, and bolstered by the government.
That’s the good news for creative. Everyone wants to make television. The bad news is, everyone wants to make television. Cheaper, user-friendly technology means we’ve living in both the Golden Age of TV, and a global bucket of swill. For every Sherlock and Breaking Bad, there’s a billion more people filming their brother squirt baked beans from his nose and anus.
Let’s be real, here. Breaking Bad and Sherlock are without question two of the finest dramas in the history of television, and more shows should be so lucky as to be mentioned in the same conversation. But where is he watching these videos about baked beans coming out of people’s anuses, and why hasn’t the Emmy academy switched up its rulebook again to allow Most Outstanding Edible Expulsion as a category?
Seriously, though, he’s spot on with that assessment. Despite many networks putting forth example after example of high-brained and well-conceived dramas and comedies, other networks will often just shoot for the lowest common creative denominator, because that’s how the ratings are earned. I guess Iannucci’s words were in part a scathing indictment of audiences as they are of the producers and companies creating the swill. But he probably has less of a problem with people have the freedom to make the swill.
Here’s how he explained to THR the panel of non-creative “experts” that the British government is employing to gauge the BBC’s importance.
It’s like a car company was looking into what car it should make next, but only spoke to managers and not to any of the engineers. Or drivers.
Iannucci sadly isn’t the showrunner on Veep anymore, as that duty has gone to former Curb Your Enthusiasm exec David Mandel. Still, we can’t imagine that show will drop in quality, and that means that maybe Iannucci will put together something else soon that will wipe the baked beans off of our TV screens in the future.