TV Thursdays: This TV Show (____) Is American…That Means It’s Great Quality, Right? (International Shows- Introduction)

australian tv channels

It’s been about a couple of weeks or so since I last posted (about Robin Williams’ last show), and in between that time I have had time to think about this next series. We took a break for TV Thursdays one week, and in the other week, my brother Jon wrote a guest post about his favourite 15 shows of 2014, and what he is planning to watch this coming 2014/2015 broadcast TV season. So, what is the topic for today?

As soon as the blog series of TV Thursdays was thought of, I first talked about my favourite 20 shows of all time so far, and these posts were categorised in themes/genres, and with TV shows grouped together (with the first post being about identity, and the last post about life after death). What I found out through listing my favourite 20 shows; is that they originate from a wide range of countries, which to me isn’t all that surprising. And while some of my favourite shows are more publicised and popular than others, this doesn’t detract from the quality of the underrated shows which I think could be loved by many if given a chance.

When I tend to think about the TV shows that are popular this year and a few years ago, and what the common thread, if any, that holds these shows together, for me I would say that it is that most of these shows, maybe 70% or so, are based in America. I guess that’s to be expected though. The U.S. right now are more or less the powerhouse of entertainment. Hollywood and many talented actors (veterans and younger faces) translate to more and more films being made each year with American actors. And the 5 reliable broadcast channels (NBC, FOX, ABC, CBS and CW) and 10 established and dependable cable channels (A&E, AMC, ABC Family, FX, HBO, Lifetime, Showtime, Syfy, TNT, USA), also ensure that the U.S. continue to produce and release high profile and quality shows. And with the addition and increased popularity of scripted shows on Starz, MTV, Netflix and Amazon Prime, it seems that this year, and maybe even next year, will be when the U.S. continue to dominate the TV industry. But, is this a good thing? Does quantity equal quality?

I want you to do an exercise for a minute. Close your eyes, and say out loud your favourite TV shows. Yep, say them out loud. Doesn’t matter if you think it’s embarrassing, or if there’s people around, say out these shows with no fear. If they really are your favourites, you won’t mind people knowing about them, right? Now open your eyes. And count. At the ratio of American shows to shows from other countries. What is the result? And be very honest about that. Really honest.

To me, I find that while some of my favourite shows are American, many much more enjoyable and satisfying shows, while not a huge amount, originate from elsewhere. So I will now talk briefly about the popular and inspiring shows from other countries that are shown on not-so-recognised TV channels (including some shows that I haven’t seen, and may not, but have included as they are very respected and popular). Over the next 3 weeks or so, I will hopefully be able to show you all that there is so much more than the ‘safe’ shows and channels that we all know and love. Sure, during the exercise earlier in the paragraph, someone could have rattled off 10 or 20 shows from Britain, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, or elsewhere that they really enjoyed- which they could have done from the top of their head or from researching Wikpedia and finding out the origin of their show. However what I am willing to conclude is that the majority of Americans mostly watch shows stemming from America. Is that sad and disappointing, or is it expected and should Americans on the whole change their viewing patterns? Let’s find out shall we?

As I was born and still live in Australia, a lot more free-to-air TV channels (such as ABC, SBS, 7, 9, 10, Gem, Go, One, 7mate, 7two, ABC 2, ABC 3, ABC News 24, and 11, to name a few) are at our fingertips, and there is much more room for homegrown Aussie shows (scripted and reality) and British and Canadian shows on top of the large influx of American shows either fast tracked or delayed (bear with me, because here comes the listing- sorry no descriptions this week, but definitely some descriptions next week- which could be slightly overwhelming).

Aussie shows such as Packed To The Rafters, McLeod’s Daughters, All Saints, Blue Heelers, Rush, Winners and Losers, The Secret Life Of Us, Offspring, A Place To Call Home, Love Child, Redfern Now, House Husbands, Jack Irish, Underbelly, Puberty Blues, Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, Wonderland, Crownies, Janet King, Old School, The Time Of Our Lives and The Gods Of Wheat Street have graced our screens over the past few decades, each series showing us a different type of Australian culture in modern times or as a time period drama. I have seen some of these shows, and others I haven’t seen, however the fact that some of them aren’t as popular enough to receive international syndication shouldn’t deter you from watching the show. As for British shows (such as the internationally famous and respected Sherlock, the cult classics Life On Mars and Ashes To Ashes, as well as Downtown Abbey, Doctor Who, Robin Hood, BroadchurchMerlin, Atlantis, Musketeers, Shameless and Skins) and Canadian shows (inclusive of Orphan Black, Continuum, Being Erica, Rookie Blue, Lost Girl, Saving Hope, Flashpoint, Heartland, Cracked and Transporter), which have probably all been much more received than Australian shows, but less so that American shows (Canadian and British shows have their semi home on broadcast networks in the summer, as well as on BBC America); it’s clear that some of these shows are much more superior quality than Australian shows.

There are also international series of The Bridge (Denmark, Sweden), Welcome To Sweden (Sweden, American), Les Revenants (France), The Tunnel (England, France), Hostages (Israel), Inspector Rex (Austria), and Borgen (Denmark) to watch as well if you want to venture way into programming that may not be spoken in English. But which shows would you watch if you want to start a new show as you wait until the fall 2014/2015 season starts up in a few weeks?Because these shows are mostly nowhere to be seen on American TV channels (the Aussie shows at least), proves my point that Australia is much more flexible when it comes to TV than America, as we try to squeeze most shows from around the world into the Aussie channels, resulting in some American shows being forced out).

If you reside in America, and you would love to watch shows about some topics explored in American shows that are shown from a different perspective, maybe these shows I briefly mentioned are on Netflix, I’m not sure. But next week I will dive deeper into some of these shows, and explain why I think they are worth a shot in watching, as well as voice my greviences at America’s need to try to remake quite a few non-American shows into American. Will you love these ‘international’ shows more than American hits such as The Blacklist, Person Of Interest, Bones, House, Glee, 24, Monk, Psych, The Closer or Castle? Well, you can be the judge, and wait until next week, or comment away below if you have seen any of these non-American shows above!

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