Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Vast Wasteland Comes to the Hexagon

It seems that American TV series totally dominated French series with the French viewing audience last year--for the first time in history. American series have of course been popular in the past, but this is the first year that they have so completely dominated the landscape. La douce France has succumbed to "the vast wasteland."


kirkmc said...

To be fair, the current crop of TV series that make it out of the US are far better than anything we've seen in our lifetimes. This is not Gilligan's Island or Mr Ed - I've been watching more TV series than since I was a kid (when I watched them just to pass time). Every actor and director wants to do TV series now in the US, because there are so many good ones and so much freedom (especially on HBO). The French series can't hold a candle to even the worst American series. (Ok, I don't count soaps.) Even the bastion of intellectualism, Télérama, raves about American series.

Do you watch any on TV?


Unknown said...

Your point is well taken. I have watched The Sopranos and Wired, both of which are superb, and am currently watching Generation Kill (by the people responsible for Wired) and Mad Men (from AMC rather than HBO). HBO has certainly changed the definition of a television series for the better. But is this what the French are watching? The article accompanying the linked piece barely mentioned these, and the illustration featured Desperate Housewives (which I confess I haven't watched).

kirkmc said...

Desperate Housewives and Gray's Anatomy are very popular (not the ones I watch; I've watched the Sopranos, the first season of Wire, and just ordered Mad Men, so we have similar tastes). They love 24, Lost, Heroes was quite popular, but the Sopranos, for example, was only available on, I think, Canal+, which limits its availability.

This said, I think DVD sales of US series here are literally through the roof, so a lot of people - like me - buy the DVDs, which are not excessively priced (though I usually order from the UK where they cost half as much).

In any case, as I mentioned, Télérama is constantly raving about how great certain series are. And the French are falling farther behind. (With the exception, apparently, of "Hard", which is set in the porn industry, that's on Canal+. I don't think that one will export wel to the US :-)


Unknown said...

Yes, I meant The Wire, not Wired. Thanks for the correction.

David in Setouchi said...

The equation is simple.

-On the one hand, American series get better and better.
I think I've watched more US TV series in the past three years than during the rest of my life, I don't even have time to go to the movies anymore... but as US and French movies suck more and more, I'm not missing much (well, it gave me the opportunity to discover Asian cinema).

-On the other hand, French series get worse and worse.
I don't think that there's a single one that's watchable these days.

Despite what some member of the French "intelligentsia" want everybody to believe, there's no "French cultural exception" (they made that up to preserve their status in their microcosm), French audiences watch and love the same things (good or bad) than the rest of the Western World, so when they're good (like current US series) let's all be happy about it (because in the meantime, on the other channel, there's Secret Story).

Anonymous said...

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