Why television is now officially better than cinema

Mindhunter

It pains me to say this. I‘ve held off for as long as I can, but now I’m finally ready to admit it. Television is officially better than cinema. As a lifelong film fan and cinematic snob, I have refused to admit this to myself and others for as long as I could, but 2017 is the year when for me, there can be no more denying it.

I sat through all five increasingly brilliant seasons of ‘Breaking Bad’ without making this call. I rode the ups and downs of seven seasons of ‘Lost’, and of ‘Dexter’, watched countless episodes of ‘The X-Files’, ‘South Park’, and ‘Black Mirror‘. And only now am I willing to admit that I’d rather stay at home and watch TV than have a night out at the cinema.

This isn’t because of some external factors like being up to my ears in screaming kids and now the cinema has become a far too expensive hassle, and it’s not because I’ve just got lazy. It’s not even because television has actually gotten better specifically this year. The television revolution has been happening for years. ‘The Wire’, ‘The West Wing’, ‘Sons of Anarchy’, ‘House’, and ‘Mad Men‘ are all long gone to name but a few.

Blockbuster disappointments

No, 2017 is the year that I’ve decided to pledge my allegiance to the small screen because not only have there been some blindingly good series invading my home, but also because cinema has also been so disappointing this year.

I will soon be making a list of my favourite films of the year as I do every year. ‘Get Out‘ will almost certainly be number one, ‘Dunkirk’ will likely be in there somewhere, maybe ‘Patriots Day’, maybe ‘It’, and maybe ‘Baby Driver’. I’ll no doubt be able to name at least ten films that I really liked, or even in some cases loved.

But the crazy thing is, and the real reason I’m calling 2017 the year I really fell for television, is because ‘Get Out’ is the only film that I really think is any better than most of the TV shows I watched this year.

TV in 2017

When I compare my tentative top 10 list of 2017 films to the TV I have watched this year, the films fall embarrassingly short. What have I watched that made me feel like this? I caught up with ‘Stranger Things’ at the start of this year and loved it. Now I’ve only got days to wait until season 2. I was worried that ‘Game of Thrones’ might lose some of its edge as it killed off too many characters and became less complex in season 7. No way. For me, it was possibly the best season yet. ‘The Handmaid’s Tale‘ is probably the bleakest drama and definitely one of the best book adaptations I’ve ever seen. ‘The Walking Dead’ rose from the ashes of its harrowing first half of season 7 and now I’ve got all out war to look forward to in season 8 starting tomorrow.


Netflix

And Netflix. Well, they just go from strength to strength. This year they’ve unleashed the absolutely brilliant ’13 Reasons Why’, ‘Ozark’ and ‘Mindhunter‘ on the world. And all for the monthly cost of less than one cinema ticket.

There may be plenty of great films still in cinemas, but most of the truly great ones aren’t the big budget spectacles that need to be seen on the big screen, so I could probably watch these gems on DVD or TV quite happily. The endless parade of bloated superhero movies, remakes, sequels, and spinoffs has become mind numbing. They all go in one ear and out the other.


If you really want your entertainment complex, or you want your favourite book done justice when it gets adapted, then TV is the place for these challenging, intelligent, risky, long-running, and often down-right dark adaptations.

Cinema has become far too safe. The best things I’ve seen on screen this year have all been from the comfort of my sofa. And I don’t even have to put up with somebody sitting next to me playing on their bloody phone.

What do you think? Have I gone mad, or is all this being said a decade too late?