Since its inception, television has been accused of stifling creativity. As kids, we heard things like, "TV will rot your brain." It is true that sitting around and watching TV can be detrimental to health, among other things. But over the years, amazing shows have been broadcast and become incredibly influential on our culture. This begs the question: Does it really stifle creativity?
First of all, this can be highly dependent on the individual. One person might use TV as a way of checking out or escaping reality; someone else might get inspired to become a screenwriter after watching a series. The quality of the show also affects the answer to this question. Daytime soap operas, reality shows, talk shows and others are commonly used as examples to illustrate the way in which TV can halt creativity.
Commercials, limits of public networks and advertising all come together to shape the way programs get made. All too often this has ruined perfectly good shows. For example, the show "Constantine" slowly became compromised because of pressure to be more like the popular shows "Grimm" and "Supernatural." The result was it was canceled halfway through its first season. Such pressure is common in the Movie/TV industry, with out-of-touch studio executives often relying on formulas that work yet quality is sacrificed as a result.
Comic books, novels and plays are also turned into series all the time. One of the best arguments that TV does not stifle creativity is the somewhat recent batch of shows coming out, such as "The Walking Dead" and "Game of Thrones." One of the central keys to the success of these shows lays in the creators genuinely loving the source material, understanding how television and the written word differ, and changing the story accordingly. Too many of us have a story we loved which, when transported to the screen, disappointed us.
Producers are learning from the mistakes of the past and staying dedicated to quality rather than solely seeking financial gain. It is not always easy, as seen in the battle between Showtime and David Lynch over reviving his show "Twin Peaks." Lynch nearly walked away from the project, citing creative freedom and budget concerns. Essentially, it seems Lynch wanted the freedom to do the show how he wanted with no restrictions. Such a demand is preposterous in many ways but demonstrates how dedicated showrunners are becoming to producing quality material, such as AMC's critically successful ''Breaking Bad.''
Does television truly stifle creativity? The answer is by no means a simple one, especially given all the factors that are involved. We all could turn off the tube and read more; yet, the television industry has made huge strides in transforming itself from simple entertainment to becoming a valid artistic medium. Whether creativity gets limited is primarily reliant on the viewer, thus "you must choose, but choose wisely."