I remember the moment I realised TV had changed forever. It was when I saw this:
Toadie in a wheelchair. TOADIE IN A WHEELCHAIR.
In fact, Toadie had been in a wheelchair for about a season-and-a-half. (He’d also had his drink spiked, left his bride at the altar, been hit by a car, and had a tragic accident on a bouncy castle). And I hadn’t even noticed. Because I just hadn’t really payed any attention to normal network TV all year.
Because in 2015, the way we watched TV changed forever.
No time to read? Listen to this bonus episode of Mamamia Out Loud here and let us tell you why it was the year of TV:
The catalyst was the launch of many shiny new streaming services. Netflix burst on the scene, alongside Stan, Presto, FoxtelGO, FetchTV and even Quickflix. Alongside iview, and then our free-to-air network’s own streaming services, (TenPlay, Plus7, 9JumpIn, SBSOnDemand), 2015 became the year we threw the TV guide into the yellow bin.
On demand. Any time. Ad-free. Across multiple devices. No need to have to illegally download shows or spend big dollars on DVD box sets. And the best part?
All these new streaming services means the competition for your eyeballs was fierce.
Whereas previously network TV was dominated by a few gatekeepers; white, middle aged men who cast shows designed for mass appeal (and cast women according to their last fuckable day), streaming services entering the TV market opened up the floodgates for diversity in programming.
The quality and diversity of shows in 2015 was unprecedented. And isn’t it ironic that it’s not reality TV that has finally begun to social realities of modern life, it’s the produced, scripted and acted TV shows.
2015 was the year that TV shows finally started spreading their wings beyond thin, white characters in situational drama or comedy. Shows canvassed topics once considered taboo: mental illness, racism, homophobia, gender inequality. Shows like Scandal, Jane the Virgin, Please Like Me, Aziz Ansari’s Master of None, Call Me Cait, all hinged around ethnic/gay/trans/actors or people as the main players, as opposed to relegating them to annoying colleagues, token best friends, taxi drivers, or bit-players.
Orange Is The New Black was one of the biggest shows of the year and its cast – butch lesbians, rotten-toothed Christians and hispanic women – was as brilliant as it was diverse. Dressed in dull beige prison duds, it was a hit show about women that don’t easily slip into the hetero normative Hollywood stereotype.
Likewise, Scandal, Nashville, Jessica Jones, proved that shows centered around female protagonists can be nuanced and deep, and observe women as not just sex objects but empowered, intelligent and strong.
Behold. The romance of Nashville: