By Ray Hanania
There is no doubt that in the past decade, Cable Television has surpassed commercial television in terms of quality entertainment.
As much as I dislike the Cable TV industry though, for their greed and excessive costs (the sell everything including the good, the bad and the garbage, for a fee), I couldn’t live without ShowTime or HBO which produce some must-see programs.
The broadcast schedule’s are short for cable TV programs. While mainstream commercial TV series usually run to 25 or more episodes in a season, taking a break usually only for the summer months, ShowTime and HBO limit their servings to under 10 episodes, and are usually tide to a specific season of the year.
This week, ShowTime launched new seasons of three of my favorite shows: Shameless, House of Lies and Episodes.
Shameless is probably the best series on television today. It’s filmed in Chicago (my hometown baby!) and focusses on the life of an Irish American family, the Gallaghers, who live below the poverty level in a mixed community. It stars veteran actor William H. Macey, as the constantly drunk and devious uncaring head of the “family,” and Emmy Rossum, the beautiful eldest legitimate daughter who actually shoulders responsibility to keep the families together. Shameless has a lot of conflict, tragedy, violence and, in truth, Chicago reality.
If you don’t think that what’s projected in Shameless is not a depiction of Chicago reality, you’re head is buried int he sand.
We just ended a great season with ShowTimes other big hit, Homeland, which in prior seasons, was so racist, I refused to watch it. But, since then, the last season was so much more entertaining and more exciting once the race-hatred against Muslims and Arabs was taken out. Not sure why that happened. American Television thrive on racism and stereotypes and Americans, who claim to embrace morality, often do just the opposite in real life.
Maybe that’s why Shameless is so shamelessly watched in America. It’s very popular. They love to watch what they hate. Although if I were Irish, I would be a little upset by the underlining ethnic identity of the Gallagher family. Of course, so many people think Chicago is an Irish city, just because two of the longest serving mayors combined who ruled Chicago for more than 44 years, were hardcore Irish. But Shameless is not about politics.
So Sunday nights are locked in starting at 8 pm CST Central Chicago Time with the one-hour long Shameless, and is followed immediately by the two half hour episodes of House of Lies and Episodes.
Don’t bother me with calls, social media, or Facebook debates during that two hour time block, people.
Some of the great programs on Cable TV include HBO’s phenomenal series, Game of Thrones, which kicks off in the Spring. (If you missed any of these shows’ past episodes or seasons, you can binge-watch them on cable TV.)
Mainstream TV has some good programs. The Goldbergs, Grimm, and a few others. Outside of watching Grimm religiously on Friday nights with the family when it is in season (it’s back Friday as the season winds down), I usually watch my other favorites on recorded On-Demand.
Coming in about 45 days is another fantastic series, House of Cards, on Netflix, the $8 a month online entertainment network that is so worth the money I wish they could offer more good films. Netflix is so worth it, these days. House of Cards stars Kevin Spacey as a corrupt politician and congressman, Frank Underwood, who has clawed his way through Congress into the White House. He is the television materialization of true American spirit, and he won’t hesitate to kill someone to get what he wants. His wife, played by actress Robin Wright, is just as ruthless. Neither hesitates to have sex when they want with others who they manipulate for favor. But the road to power is paved with ethics and morality while the unethical and immoral drive across it in their vehicles of excess.
How do I keep up with all these shows on mainstream TV and cable TV? I use an app which is great called TeeVee (which costs $2.99). It allows me to search for my favorite shows, add them to my personal lineup, and then it gives me a reminder on my iPhone the morning of the show’s broadcast. When a show is out of season, it tells me as soon as it is known, when it will start. Netflix starts in 45 days (from this posting date) and Game of Thrones starts in 90 days.
Homeland and Falling Skies, another cable show I love, resume later in the year but the start dates are TBA. That will change as we get within 90 days of their scheduled restarts.
Hanania covered Chicago political beats including Chicago City Hall while at the Daily Southtown Newspapers (1976-1985) and later for the Chicago Sun-Times (1985-1992). He published The Villager Community Newspapers covering 12 Southwest suburban regions (1993-1997). Hanania also hosted live political news radio talkshows on WLS AM (1980 - 1991), and also on WBBM FM, WLUP FM, WSBC AM in Chicago, and WNZK AM in Detroit.
The recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, Hanania was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media;In 2009, he received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. Hananiaalso received two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild, and in 1990 was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.
Hanania’s columns are published by the Illinois News Network every week. You can reprint his columns with full credit to the author, using the shirttail and without content edits. Hanania is also President/CEO of Urban Strategies Group media and public affairs consulting which has clients in Illinois, Florida, Michigan and Washington D.C. His personal website is www.TheMediaOasis.com, and www.UrbanStrategiesGroup.com. Email him at: [email protected]
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