America is more divided than ever — and how we watch TV is no exception. Below, James Hibberd and Natalie Abrams debate some of the most polarizing big issues of the small-screen from 2017.
Originals vs. Reboots
JAMES: Sure this is the Peak Reboot era. But biggest and best shows are still almost always original ideas. Reboots like CW’s Dynasty, NBC’s Taken, Fox’s 24: Legacy, etc. only proved a hit’s magic wasn’t its concept, but having a perfect cast and execution at the right time.
NAT: Sorry, what’d you say? I was busy watching NBC’s top-rated comedy of the fall, Will & Grace.
Closure vs. Mystery
NAT: No series finale will ever satisfy every viewer, so I love endings that give us just a general sense of the future — like in the case of The Vampire Diaries and Orphan Black — leaving the rest up to the audience’s imagination.
JAMES: I’m down for some open-ended uncertainty — such as never knowing for sure if Nora was telling the truth in The Leftovers finale (she totally was) — but a show owes its audience most of their big questions answered after asking them to watch for dozens of hours; that’s just polite.
Spoilers vs. Surprises
NAT: Spoilers only heighten the anticipation, if only to then see how the big moment really plays out on screen. Proof: Even though I knew Viserion was going to perish on Game of Thrones, I still sobbed when the dragon was slaughtered by the Night King.
JAMES: Hey, spoiler alert, not everybody has watched season 7 yet! “Heighten anticipation”? More like ruins suspense! Avoiding spoilers means surrendering yourself to a story and allowing its creators to guide your experience rather than using a cheat-sheet to buffer an emotional journey.
Yearly vs. Waiting
NAT: Why is it that we’ve gone an entire year without new episodes of Westworld and we’ll be waiting nearly two years for the final season of Game of Thrones — and probably Stranger Things 3, as well? Can’t networks see they infuriate audiences with such long hiatuses?
JAMES: Have patience! If networks wants to spend two years and tens of millions to make only a handful of episodes, then we are lucky because the result will probably be awesome. Besides, does anybody feel like they need more shows to watch right now?
DC vs. Marvel:
NAT: The CW has spent years adeptly building out its rich, interconnected TV universe across The Flash, Supergirl, Arrow, and Legends of Tomorrow, leading to the network’s best four-way crossover yet with Crisis on Earth-X. (It was legitimately better than Justice League.)
JAMES: “Better than Justice League” isn’t exactly high praise. I’ll admit this was Marvel’s worst TV year — Inhumans, Iron Fist, The Defenders, and The Punisher were all a step down from last year’s Jessica Jones. But Hulu’s Runaways is promising and… have we mentioned Jessica Jones returns in March?
Netflix vs. the Rest of TV
JAMES: The streaming service cranked out new show after show this year that became the title everybody was talking about (13 Reasons Why, GLOW, Mindhunter) while spending an insane $6 billion on programming. They’re one Game of Thrones away from running the board with their growing audience of cord cutters.
NAT: Five words: Stranger Things 2, episode 7.