I am reaching the age where I'm starting to wax nostalgiac over a great many things. Music was better when I was young. Movies today aren't worth a damn. These kids today... All of that kind of grumpy old-man stuff that makes me crazy, I'm saying it and thinking it. Except that I do not really believe it. Things today are different, but that really meaningless in the grand scheme of things. They just are. Our culture reflects us, for better or worse. Take television for example. For the most part television in the 70's and 80's stunk. There were great shows, but the crap to gold ratio was astonishingly bad.
Thankfully, most of the dross from this era (I mean Alf, really?) has been relegated to the dustbin of history, never to be heard from again except in some ironic, hipster kinda way. What's left? Well, that is what they call the 'Golden Age' of television, right? All in the Family, M*A*S*H, and the like. Except that when you watch it from a modern perspective, these shows are preachy, moralistic, and slow. Which of course must mean that they had meaning. Or not. Viewed from today's prism of an uptempo world, these shows are dated and difficult to watch, unless they remind you of a simpler time, like when Hawkeye would bust out the wine to get the unnamed nurse of the week tipsy so he could reinforce his Lothario reputation. Of course the concept of 'date-rape' was still a decade or so away.
Which brings us to today. Our airwaves are filled with tripe that makes My Two Dads look like Shakespeare. The art of the narrative seems to be lost, at least that is the rallying cry of those who look to the past and see some sort of utopia. The reality is that we are going through a new Golden Age. There are some amazing stories being told today. Not all of them are playing on the big 4 networks, but if you are looking at today's television landscape and seeing a wasteland, you're not looking in the right spots.
So, why am I writing all of this today? Well, one of today's best shows not on a premium channel, FX's Justified, is making its return. And I cannot wait to see what happens to U.S. Marshall Raylan Givens. He's not quite an anti-hero, but rather he's a character that enbodies the more relativist nature of today's America. We don't trust the do-gooder who has no flaws, nor do we want Dirty Harry shooting up the place, we like to see our heroes today as flawed but just. That said, Raylan doled out some serious justice in a great season two of Justified and I am looking forward to seeing what happens next.