Did Great TV Ruin Good TV?

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Photo: null/HBO

Did The Sopranos ruin TV? That's the gist of what Ryan McGee argues in the AV Club today: that because of its "novelistic" approach, The Sopranos popularized a too-serialized standard that's unsustainable and probably undesirable for most shows. McGee says this format prioritizes seasons over episodes — which makes individual episodes far less enjoyable — and that it asks showrunners to look too far into the future while breaking stories — which makes the perfect the enemy of the good. Is this really a problem, though? Are we losing out on promising shows because creators have gotten a little too ambitious? Is the serialized format limiting the variety of what we see on TV — or does it just seem like the format is often used for shows about dangerous, usually criminal male antiheroes, and it's a repetition of theme, not format, that makes "quality" television feel a little repetitive?