Signal vs. Noise, Eyes and Ears vs. Voice
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Netflix's Jessica Jones is the latest series I made the time to binge watch. I highly recommend it.

According to an article in yesterday's New York Times, the number of scripted series on broadcast, cable and streaming television is currently at 409. This is up from 376 last year and 211 just six years ago. What has this abundance and access to television done to the viewer? 

These are the changes I've noticed in my own viewing habits:

  • I rarely watch broadcast TV shows when they first air, and if I do, it's because the show has what I call a high social quotient. Meaning, it's fun to watch with others, either in real life or on Twitter. Empire, sometimes Scandal and NBC's recent remake of The Wiz have particularly high social quotients for me. They also seem to be written and produced with potential hashtags, memes and shares in mind.

  • I will watch a whole season of a series on Netflix or Amazon Prime in one weekend (okay, Friday night into Saturday afternoon) and feel no shame. 

  • I expect way more from movies and have lately been disappointed (except for Creed. Creed is amazing. Go see it if you haven't). When you have 10-13 hours at a time to unfold a story versus the two-three hours typical films are given, you have way more time to explore complex character arcs and universal themes. You essentially have a serialized novel in video form with many of today's scripted cable and streaming offerings.

  • Broadcast TV seems tame, timid and sometimes, like it's trying too hard. Cable and streaming TV shows don't have to answer to broadcast standards and old industry biases, so they can take more risks. Things that shouldn't be considered risky have found a home on streaming services in particular, such as a Indian-American man as not only a lead but a romantic lead with sex scenes (Master of One's Aziz Ansari, Netflix) exploring the dynamics of power, abuse and victimization (Marvel's Jessica Jones, Netflix), or making a gender transition during the last quarter of your life (Transparent on Amazon Prime). I sense that some broadcast TV shows are trying to up the ante with more same-sex couples, love scenes, and even referencing group sex (while I'm watching with my mom, no less. Thanks Empire).

We are in a television golden era, but the NYT and I both wonder if it's a bubble. Are there enough attention spans to go around for over 400 scripted TV series, not to mention the non-scripted shows, or the millions of Youtube channels?

Your Turn: How has this abundance of television content affected your viewing habits? Reply or hit me Twitter with the hashtag #HWTV

Highwater Weekly Picks 
It's light this week. I had some links, but I either couldn't verify the info or I just didn't dig them enough to share them. Send me your picks by December 22 if you have links you want to appear in the next issue. 

  • CEC ArtsLink has funding for international performing arts and literature projects in select countries. Deadline is January 14, 2016.
  • D.R.A.M. doesn't care if you have a man now. Sound like any other rappers you know? His latest track with SZA is smooth though. 
If you have any suggestions, questions or submissions for The Highwater Weekly, please send them to

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Thanks for reading. 

Your partner in progress, 
Chakka AKA Lorraine Bandzberry
Copyright © 2015 Highwater MAG, All rights reserved.

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