Are there too many 9/11 TV specials?

The sheer number of shows attempting to honor the attacks might unintentionally discourage overwhelmed viewers from tuning in

The History Channel's timeline of the 9/11 attacks: On this tenth anniversary weekend, 40 specials will air including The History Channel's "The Days After."
(Image credit: Screen shot, The History Channel)

No fewer than 40 TV specials marking the 10th anniversary of 9/11 have aired over the past few weeks or will air in the next few days. That fare spans everything from Animal Planet's Hero Dogs of 9/11 to the Oprah Winfrey Network's Twins of the Twin Towers (about twins who lost their sibling on 9/11). The plethora of specials is worrying some critics, who fear that the programming onslaught will amount to white noise that trivializes the occasion. Are their concerns founded?

Yes. This coverage is excessive: The 9/11 anniversary is being diminished, says Brian Lowry at Variety. It's akin to the way networks "air a slew of Halloween or Christmas episodes." The "resulting din has become a noise-canceling exercise." No special can possibly achieve its intended impact, making all this programming "reminiscent of another tower — the biblical one in Babel."

"Cacophony of voices dull anniversary"

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No. These criticisms are ridiculous: It's "too much" to run programming pegged to a national tragedy, "but it's not too much to air two hours of Bachelor Pad and two hours of America's Got Talent" on a given night? asks Ken Tucker at Entertainment Weekly. And don't forget Bravo's endless Real Housewives marathon that preceded this week's season premiere. "What the hell is wrong with devoting a lot of TV time" to an event that is simultaneously one of the worst and "one of the noblest, most vexed, complex, and influential moments in American history?"

"9/11 anniversary programming: Is there too much of it? Can you believe people are actually asking this?"

Just "think carefully about what you watch": "There are as many angles as there are channels and networks" when it comes to 9/11 programming, says Linda Holmes at NPR. Viewers should be judicious. Watching 9/11 specials is "intensely personal," and "how you react may surprise you." It may be a good thing that diverting offerings about dogs are scheduled, because with some of the specials — particularly the History Channel's absorbing The Days After — "you may find that you are more transported than you intended."

"A rather befuddled note from me to you about September 11 specials"

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