Wired for New TV

For the past two weeks, I’ve dedicated my TV viewing to DVDs of HBO’s The Wire. This is my second viewing of The Wire and I’m amazed at how it continues to draw me in and break my heart. As a TV omnivore, I know I should be glued to new programming—most current shows are ramping up to their finale. I’m not. Watching The Wire, especially in this economy, feels important. Simply put, it’s the content I want right now—imperfect characters and great writing that forces me to consider my place and privilege in this country.

Networks (and by proxy TV addicts everywhere) look to producers to drum up the next “big idea” (can we really take another law enforcement agent with finely honed skills to tell when someone is lying?). As viewers, we’re lucky if we get to weigh in at the pilot stage of development. Isn’t it time for networks to look to viewers – the audience and consumers—to co-develop new programming? Imagine what a room full of creative, TV-obsessed, opinionated viewers could do? (Hello, YouTube!)

It’s scary to put development in the hands of customers, whether you’re making baby toys, women’s clothing, or television. But the truth is, customers are already creating and using the Internet to share and develop media content. TV viewers know exactly what they want to see…and it just might involve something more elaborate than a new CSI location.

Me? I want grit. I want real. I want the honesty of The Wire writ large. I’m waiting for programming that goes beyond clichés. I want networks to ask my compatriot omnivores what they want and be gutsy enough to act on the feedback.

So, pending all of that, I’ll be spending my evenings watching DVD’s of The Wire and communing with Omar, McNulty, Bunk, and all the hoppers.