Recently, my alarm woke me up at 5 a.m. It was time to watch TV. I had been working my way through Arcane, a series that I would eventually recommend in this column as a must-watch, and I was jamming the series into my schedule wherever it could fit. It wasn’t the first time I had scheduled entertainment the same way I would schedule work—I had previously started playing video games in the early morning in the hopes of keeping up with the new ones, playing Marvel’s Spider-Man at dawn before even walking the dog, eating cereal, or going to work. Before that, it was preplanning my podcasts based on their run times to clear the maximum number of episodes from my feed before my real day began.
Entertainment had become my prework, and at my sleepiest I risked joining the chorus of every entertainment writer who has asked their version of the same questions: Is there too much TV? Are there too many movies? Is there too much culture? I never wanted to join those writers, though they do have a point. With almost 500 scripted TV shows alone in 2020, not to mention movies, podcasts, video games, and music, keeping up with the cultural conversation is harder than ever.
Choosing what to watch can be like the ending scene in The Hurt Locker, when Jeremy Renner stands in the cereal aisle and stares, paralyzed, at his options. But while it’s easy to lament the glut of mass-produced reality shows, never-ending sequels, and mind-bogglingly awful spin-off ideas, I’m reminded of the opportunities that come with the floodgates being opened wider for more content to flow through them—especially for those who have historically been excluded from telling stories.