Golden Age of Television (2000s–present)
This Golden Age of Television has been marked by the production of a large number of internationally acclaimed television programs in the United States. The period began in the late 1990s or early 2000s. It resulted from advances in technologies of media distribution, as well as a large increase in the number of hours of available television, which prompted a major wave of content creation.
Its name refers to the original Golden Age of Television which occurred in the 1950s. It has also been referred to as the "New", "Second" or "Third Golden Age of Television" ("third" being used when a period in the early 1980s is considered a second Golden Age).
French scholar Alexis Pichard has argued that TV series enjoyed a Second Golden Age in the early 1990s which was a combination of three elements: first, an improvement in both visual aesthetics and storytelling; second, an overall homogeneity between cable series and networks series; and third, a tremendous popular success. Alexis Pichard contends that this Second Golden Age was the result of a revolution initiated by the traditional networks in the 1980s and carried on by the cable channels (especially HBO) in the 1990s.
Breaking Bad, Twin Peaks, Game of Thrones, Battlestar Galactica, Mad Men, The Sopranos, Lost, Six Feet Under, and The Wire are generally considered the basis of the so-called Golden Age of Television, i.e. the new creator-driven tragic dramas of the 2000s and 2010s. The Writer's Guild of America vote for 101 Best Written TV Shows includes a complete foundation of the current Golden Age of Television.  Stephanie Zacharek of The Village Voice has argued that it began earlier with network shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and Babylon 5. Kirk Hamilton of Kotaku has said that Avatar: The Last Airbender should be considered a part of the golden age of television, and recommended "the sophisticated kids show" to others. With the rise of instant access to content on Netflix, creator-driven television shows like Breaking Bad, Friday Night Lights, Mad Men, and The Shield gained cult followings that grew to become widely popular. The success of instant access to television shows was presaged by the popularity of DVDs, and continues to increase with the rise of digital platforms and online companies.
The increase in the number of shows is also cited as evidence of a Golden Age. In the five years between 2011 and 2016, the number of scripted television shows, on broadcast, cable and digital platforms increased by 71%. In 2002, 182 television shows aired, while 2016 saw 455 original scripted television shows with an additional increase projected for 2017. The number of shows are rising largely due to companies like Netflix, Amazon Video and Hulu investing heavily in original content. The number of shows aired by online service increased from only one in 2009 to over 93 in 2016. John Landgraf, the CEO of FX Networks, has stated that the United States has reached "peak television", where the amount of television series being aired could be overwhelming for the viewer to choose from, especially for critics obligated to review as many shows as possible, which results in a decreased output of television series in the future.
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