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Re: Play All
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Life in TV times
Clive James takes on the box set - the first true 21st-century artform
By Adam Barnett
|As the nation’s political leaders jostled for position after the Brexit vote in the EU referendum, a popular hot take among lazy journalists was to say how it was all “just like Game of Thrones”. The desire to seek meaning (or a fashionable analogue) in American television cropped up during the US presidential election too, with references to Game of Thrones, Mad Men and House of Cards. |
This was of a piece with the election itself, which blurred the distinctions between news and entertainment, and closed with a reality TV star being elected the most powerful man in the world. Both political events have sparked much talk of “elites” and “the people”, mirroring some old but enduring debates about popular culture, including television: Are people simply fools who vote against their interests, and spend half their lives watching garbage? Are they being fooled by those in power – dupes of unscrupulous big shots? Or should we just respect their choices, and scorn anyone who questions the collective wisdom of “the people”?
Some answers might be found in the work of veteran telly-watcher Clive James, whose latest book, Play All: A Bingewatcher’s Notebook, weighs up the various box set drama serials conquering the world, since cable channels like HBO began showing the old networks how it’s done.
James has been glued to the box for....