I am an old school Trekkie. Before the future descended upon us, I was used to meeting (IRL, you remember that, right?) once or twice a year, with like-minded geeks and discussing TV in loving, nerdy detail. Then came BBSs & Usenet which allowed us to gather virtually and discuss the currently hot show de jour on an episode by episode basis, in almost real time.
Cut to 2019. Discussion panels at conventions are mostly a thing of the past as cons have gone from being fan-run events to ComicCon style commercial behemoths. And while online discussion forums haven’t disappeared, they sure have changed.
I am currently watching both Designated Survivor and Lost in Space on Netflix (and enjoying both). Since Netflix has given us the gift of non-appointment viewing which means I can hop on a show whenever, Designated Survivor has two full seasons already and Lost in Space has one. This means that while I can’t contribute to an up to the minute, topical discussion of the episode, but I can go online after the fact and see what others thought, and see how it jives with my own opinion. Since Reddit is the place to go for online discussion forums on any topic, I thought I would have a look at the relevant subreddits for each show to see what the hot points of discussion were on each episode.
The episode threads for both of these shows are snarky, vitriolic, dumpster fires.
Now, I am used to a certain amount of snark from my many years in fandom, but we snark because we love, and unless the show was particularly awful, the criticisms were always tempered with copious amounts of fannish squee. But holy cow these two subs. The shows are pretty decent, but rarely do I find them saying anything good about an episode. It’s just a constant piling on the the plot lines, acting, special effects and writing (I mean, who cares if the special effects for Designated Survivor were substandard in that one scene – its not an FX based show).
Now, I am familiar with the concept of a hatewatch (link), but every single person posting cannot be hatewatching these shows. It’s not statistically possible. And even with a hatewatch, you generally continue to watch because you had hope for the premise of the show and hope that it will get better (this is how I justify my season and a half of Blindspot). But eventually even a hatewatch has diminishing returns and must have better things to do with your time.
What is my point? That it’s currently cool to hate? That snarky art criticism has moved from oils and interpretive dance to TV? That the current sociopolitical polarisation is affecting everything? I’m not sure except that I’m a little sad that 2019 culture has poisoned something as banal as virtual water cooler talk about last night’s TV.