The Big Issue : Edition 445
MEDIA It has now been weeks since the finale of Breaking Bad was screened on pay- TV – just enough time to read the raft of episode recaps written about the show. Breaking Bad must be the most recapped show in the history of TV. As the final episodes were being screened, you couldn’t skim through any social media without being pointed towards another lengthy review of each instalment. And we at The Big Issue were caught up in the excitement (see Ed#442). Plug the words ‘Breaking Bad Episode Recap’ into Google you get more than 24 million hits (do the same thing for Mad Men and you get around 4.5 million). The episode recap has become a staple of this Golden Age of TV. It started in the mid-1990s when fans would hit forums for their favourite shows, and REmEmbER ThE dAwn of digital TV at the AbC? The broadcaster’s new channels were supposed to provide ‘diversity’ and ‘choice’. Sometimes, though, it seems the AbC is still not entirely sure how to handle this responsibility. A show was launched on AbC2 recently that, 10 years ago, would have been billed as the new AbC TV show for all viewers. Of course there would have been a chance this new show could have been terrible (there’s always a chance something might be terrible), but the AbC would have either taken a chance on it, or they wouldn’t have made it in the first place, because they wouldn’t have had the option to hedge their bets. They only had one channel. The show I’m thinking about is called Please Like Me. It’s the brainchild of comedian Josh Thomas, who wrote and stars in it. I like the idea of new talent ‘having a go’ on AbC2, doing new and interesting things. Look at the programs Television WhaT’s noT To like? episode recaps up for revieW for the many arts festivals around the country, and you’ll see there are plenty of interesting people trying new and potentially commercially successful things all the time. by all means give them an opportunity to air their work to an audience who might not otherwise see them, in a format that maybe doesn’t fit the traditional TV slot. Giving Please Like Me a trial run on AbC2, on the other hand, seems like a wasted opportunity. This show is funny and thoughtful, and is presented by Thomas and director matthew Saville in a format familiar to viewers. Traditional AbC audiences (whoever they might be) might not have been then took shape when American TV critic Alan Sepinwall began writing weekly recaps of The Sopranos episodes in new Jersey’s daily, The Star-Ledger. Sepinwall quickly turned episode recaps into an art form and, like any good idea in the entertainment industry, it was copied by everyone. Soon websites were bombarded with TV recaps. with Breaking Bad, however, recaps reached a whole new level. There were great ones on websites AV Club and Vulture, and on Alan Sepinwall’s (he reviewed the last few episodes while recovering from an operation). but then recaps started turning up on Rolling Stone, Time and every other major news site. Throw in thousands of bloggers writing their own recaps, and millions of tweets about the show, and it felt like most of the internet was writing about Breaking Bad. Some sites exposed to some of the things that happen in this show. Gay couples kiss as though they actually like each other, for instance. Generation Y is represented as self-aware and funny. Characters don’t roll their eyes and open their mouths in horror after relationship breakdowns; they take their phones out of their pockets and call their mates instead. Old people are friends with young people. These elements are refreshing and, to some, challenging. The format of the show, on the other hand, is conservative. It’s made to fit the AbC1 format. word of mouth has been good and now the show is screening on AbC1. That’s great, but it would be a shame if the push for the AbC to provide choice has also provided an opportunity for the network to make risk-averse decisions in order to protect itself from criticism. If they don’t take risks on shows like Please Like Me, they might lose their reputation as a breeding ground for tomorrow’s talent. by Lorin Clarke (@lorinimus) Josh Thomas (cenTre) in Please like Me even ran recaps of the best recaps (that’s not a joke). If we learned anything from the crystal meth trade in Albuquerque, it’s that it’s always dangerous when a market is flooded with an inferior product. In the desperate rush for clicks, some sites ran recaps only minutes after an episode ended. Reviewers must have been writing while the episode was running, which makes you wonder if they had a chance to let the show sink in. A food reviewer wouldn’t judge a meal after the first spoonful is in their mouth, before they’ve even had their first chew. when the next big show comes along, you can bet recaps will be back and they’ll be up faster than ever. And fans will be there to devour them like meth heads who’ve been handed an ounce of walter white’s blue Crystal. by Declan Fay (@declanf) photographcourtesyofinstagram.com/georgethekat THeBigissue 8–21NOV2013 43 PssT...areyoulookin’forabreakingbadre-caT?