"Friendship is what television is about," writes Neal Gabler in the Los Angeles Times. There's been a "decline in real friendship" over the last few decades, with the rise of social networking and the increased compartmentalization of modern life. We've tried to fill the void with television characters, but they offer little more than "nonstop fantasies of friendship," an illusion of uncomplicated, college-dorm like intimacy where adults have untold hours to just hang out with their pals. In the end, says Gabler, TV "seems only to remind us of our alienation." Here, an excerpt:
...we miss the friendships we no longer have, and we know that Facebook or e-mails cannot possibly compensate for the loss. So we sit in front of our television sets and enjoy the dream of friendship instead: A dream where we need never be alone, where there are a group of people who would do anything for us, and where everyone seems to understand us to our very core, just like Jerry and George, Chandler and Joey, Carrie and her girls, or the members of the McKinley High glee club. It is a powerful dream, and it is one that may now be the primary pleasure of television.
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Why Pakistan won't hunt down the terrorists within its borders
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- How academia's liberal bias is killing social science
- Pope Francis' American problem
- Sorry, GOP, tax cuts don't pay for themselves
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- Are there dogs in heaven? Let's hope not.
- 10 things you need to know today: December 19, 2014
- Why the Sony hack changes everything
- Diagnosing the Home Alone burglars' injuries: A professional weighs in
Subscribe to the Week