The True Value of Quality TV

Powerful Essays
US television has recently enjoyed an increase in the production of complex, long-form dramas. Cable channels have successfully utilised their subscription-based model to generate a specific, niche audience. These audiences are attracted to networks such as HBO due to their regarded high ‘quality’ of programming. The value of ‘quality TV’ is regularly debated. Critics and academics often place value in the texts. This essay will argue, however, that despite the value judgements critics and academics make about television programs, the true value of ‘quality TV’ lies in the niche audience it is exposed to.
In recent years, the subscription cable network HBO has earned a reputation as “the vanguard of ‘quality television’” (Wells-Lassange 2013 pp.415). Wells-Lassagne argues that since the popularity of The Sopranos (1999-2007) HBO has defended its reputation amongst critics and audiences alike. The network’s history of miniseries adaptations targets a niche audience who are willing to pay for high-quality television programs. HBO reached new audiences with the production of book adaptations Game of Thrones (2011-) and True Blood (2008-). To be part of a niche audience is valued by many people. The social benefit from being part of a fan group is immense, with the rapid expansion of a multitude of online fan communities linking people across the globe. Fan culture is an increasing presence in society, and programs such as Game of Thrones and Lost (ABC, 2004-2010) have a cult-like following. These audiences are highly engaged, and participate in interaction with other fans of the show. The Lost ‘fandom’ attempted to unpack the series and solve the mysteries of the program through online message boards. This online community placed t...

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