This column's skepticism about studies alleging the negative impact of television is well-documented. Almost weekly there is a new study suggesting that television burns a hole in your head, or some such nonsense.
The fickle finger of blame for every depressing trend in life, politics, love, education and social etiquette is usually hovering somewhere around TV. I have yet to see the study showing TV is at fault for frosh week public drunkenness and related obnoxious whoopin' and hollering, but I do believe it's coming.
Then the other day while perusing the newfangled Internet thing, I saw this headline in the online Washington Post: "TV is increasingly for old people." And I went, "Yay!" A study of TV that I can get behind.
"TV is increasingly for the old, and the Internet is for the young" declared the report, based on new research by media analyst Michael Nathanson of Moffett Nathanson Research. The only possible response is, obviously, "Well, I'll be damned!" Or as they say in England, "Well, I'll be buggered!"
Or, maybe, some sarcastic reference to the fact that the conclusion is rather obvious and not exactly of Sherlock Holmes-level discovery of hidden meaning and buried clues.
Mind you, the stats presented are interesting. The median age in the U.S. was 37.2, according to the most recent. U.S. Census. At the same time, the report on the study says, "The median age of a broadcast or cable television viewer during the 2013-2014 TV season was 44.4 years old, a 6 per cent increase in age from four years earlier. Audiences for the major broadcast network shows are much older and aging even faster, with a median age of 53.9 years old."
I say, "yay!" because, well, television is getting better, especially cable, and using a Sherlockian level of analysis, I'd conclude TV is better because it isn't always catering to the young, many of whom are known flibbertigibbets.
Because "television is increasingly for old people," as the study bluntly states, we get drama about the human condition, not about the dilemmas involved in dating hipster guys with absurdly bushy, biblical, see-my-testosterone beards. Or the crushing question of whether to share or not to share cute, nude selfies with all and sundry or just all. Also, possibly, that not exactly human condition conundrum of what to do when your mom stops paying the bills for your smartphone. I doubt if those under the median age for broadcast and cable viewing would be interested in HBO's The Leftovers, a drama, just concluded, that is emphatically about existential issues and inconclusive about them. The same could be said of True Detective, a police procedural so warped it would confuse the young, since they are used to familiar formats. What the young do not want is the unexplainable. Unless, of course, Batman is around to sort it all out and the explanation comes along after a lot of "Kapow!" It's not that television doesn't want younger viewers. A casual glance over the list of new shows arriving on U.S. network TV this fall reveals that there's a bunch of comic-book shows that are bait to draw the young and shallow. There is also a dreadful comedy called Selfie, set in the exciting world of social media and featuring the knockabout, hilarious comedy for which that arena is noted.
I also found it interesting to peruse a list of Top 20 new TV shows compiled for one of those online magazines aimed at the young and precociously trendy. Its No.1 pick is a comedy I loathed. I'm older than the readership and, frankly, I don't care.
All of this is not to say that the young, non-TV-watching audience should be condemned to languish forever with their flippant, puerile TV entertainment. They will, of course, get old and come around. Then they will in turn see the headline, TV is increasingly for the old, and the Internet is for the young. And go, "Yay!"
Ali G: Rezurection (FXX Canada, 10:30 p.m.) is worth your time, if you get the channel. Ali G has a hilarious encounter with the grandiloquent James Lipton of Inside The Actors Studio to discuss acting and stuff.