Imagine that you're just rolling out of bed at the sound of your alarm clock, ready to start a brand new day. You hear a thud at your front door. Puzzled by this development, you rub your eyes and mosey over to the source of the noise, searching for the culprit, only to discover that it was just the paperboy delivering the daily news.
Then you see something that catches your eye. The day's date as printed on the front of the newspaper reads February 15th, 1958. As you survey your street, it dawns on you that you do not see a single satellite dish, nor do you hear any drones whizzing by your property. To make matters worse, your new Chevy Bel Air has a slow leak in one of the tires. As you head back inside to fetch your shoes and your car keys, it dawns on you that this is no longer the world you once knew.
This scenario takes you back to a world in which all of our modern comforts do not exist, and also to a world where the values are a bit different – and perhaps more wholesome, at times. On the radio, you hear the crooning of Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra, as well as a lot of other happy doo-wop style music. On your television are shows such as I Love Lucy, The Honeymooners and Leave it to Beaver.
The people you see are not wearing skinny jeans or yoga pants. You're more likely to have a neighbor knock on your door to ask for a cup of sugar than you are to encounter any of the modern social problems such as meth houses or lawsuit happy pedestrians burning themselves with McDonald's coffee or deliberately falling on your front walk in order to transfer ownership of all your property into their name.
It is almost as if you have crossed over into another dimension: a world where mostly everything is in black and white, and people believe in hard work trumping all else. It's also a world where hope still exists.
There's no denying that a trip in time from 2018 back to 1958 would cause some culture shock upon seeing how much simpler and different things used to be. While we have so many modern conveniences and access to an almost infinite amount of information, it seems like the world has gotten darker and more jaded.
People do not seem to be as happy or as healthy. Instead of wanting jobs where a person sees the world and gets to enjoy a little physical labor and time in the great outdoors, people today would rather blackout their windows and nail down a cushy desk job that leaves them the majority of the day to browse Reddit.
Perhaps having access to all these things has opened our eyes to all of the things we didn't see before, and once a thing has been seen there is no way to unsee it. Is it possible that we are dealing with the tragic consequence of having too much in our lives – that our excess is actually causing us this twentieth century grief?
It is difficult to say. But if you look back at the history of television, we have come a long way from the days of The Howdy Doody Show. With that said, what follows is a list of a few darker TV shows that exemplify this phenomenon. This is a list of TV shows that explore a dark psychological element and perhaps even express a deeper frustration with our fellow humans. It is a sign of the times when our heroes have all become antisocial creatures forced to unleash savage, Darwinian survival-of-the-fittest schemes to overcome even more nefarious and wicked antagonists.
Take the first entry on this list as a perfect example.
Over the course of only five seasons, this series takes its wholesome Mr. Chips-esque protagonist (who happens to be a chemistry teacher), throws a little bit of cancer and money problems into his life (as well as some all too common humiliation) and we gradually see him undo much of the good that he has achieved in order to unleash his wrath upon all those who have wronged him while allowing all of his baser impulses to take the forefront of his life.
Where this man may have once wanted only to teach and inspire, Walter White now desires money and power regardless of the consequences. He kills and commits many crimes, all professing that he is doing it for his family, so that they have something to survive on when he dies from the cancer that he cannot afford to treat.
It's a dark premise for a show and there is certainly a perverted thrill in watching to see just how far Mr. White will go to provide for his family, and how much farther he goes once he's already gotten a hefty stash of money hidden in his crawlspace.
To be continued …