The comforts of syndicated television

Though syndicated television may be considered “fringe” to TV professionals, it holds a special place in the public’s hearts. We have all had days where all there is to do is watch TV. Before the times of Netflix and DVR, all there was to watch was live television. I remember watching reruns of old cartoons when I got home from school, talk shows with my mom during the day, and game shows with the family. I have definitely been a “fringe viewer” of syndicated television many times. And though it doesn’t always push the boundaries as we know independent texts normally do, It is independent.

Syndicated television is considered independent as it is produced and distributed independently of major corporations. Though unlike indie films, syndicated TV doesn’t push aesthetic boundaries. This is because there are aspects of stability and reliability in television that people have come to expect when wanting to watch syndicated television shows like talk shows and familiarity in reruns. “Syndication has remained vital to many corners of the media industry during this period precisely for delivering the one factor lacking virtually everywhere else in the industry: stability…The primary reasons for this stability are the programs themselves, which, after a tumultuous wave of bold and often exploitative ventures in the 1990s, have settled into a hegemony of tried-and-true, anti-controversial genres and programs.” (56)

Syndication plays an important role in today’s television market and people’s lives. It brings familiarity and stability that everyone can enjoy. There are some syndicated programs that do push boundaries as well. They do this in such a way that still appeal to audiences. As stated in the article, “by experimenting with techniques that extend the visual range of the format and further capitalize on their personalities’ interpersonal skills to guard against format exhaustion.” (71). Such techniques are helpful in pushing boundaries and moving forward with the trends of current television.


3 thoughts on “The comforts of syndicated television

  1. It’s interesting how you point out that syndicated television is a key to stability while still also pushing boundaries. I feel as though Star Trek is a prime example of this. When I think about it, may episodes of The Next Generation are truly just filler. This is understandable considering the fact that the show ran for seven seasons, however, the show still pushed boundaries. Considering its incredible visual effects for the time, TNG proved that good sci-fi wasn’t just reserved for the silver screen. It was this, as well as its compelling characters, that helped it last so long. So I would heartily agree that while syndication tends to play it safe, it can still be innovative in many ways.

  2. Good points, I think that generation gaps are an important component of syndication as well. Shows that may not have found an audience the first time around get a new lease on life through syndication. A prime example of this is Family Guy, which originally ran for 3 seasons on FOX before cancellation. Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim block picked it up, and became a top earner, which prompted FOX to bring the show back two years after the fact. So now Adult Swim has a syndication giant and FOX has a Wednesday night ratings giant.

  3. Good post. Syndication doesn’t seem nearly as indie, if at all, as it would have 10+ years ago. Neflix seems to foster all these shows, giving network television and HBO a run for their money. I think because people try to make expectations to indie film, it takes away from what indie TV does outside the typical standard most programs go through outside the realms of mainstream television. I like kparker10’s point of Family Guy. It did originally start out with FOX and now has been licensed and ran on TBS and now featured on Netflix with 10 seasons.

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