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Whedonesque - a community weblog about Joss Whedon
"He's ten times the man you are, and you're, like, forty guys!"
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March 03 2007

Buffy: a truly great work of literature. According to this blogger: Joss Whedon created one of the great works of literature of the late 20th / early 21st century, yet lots of people still think itís "just Beverly Hills 90210 with monsters".

The blogger and I obviously have similar tastes. It's rather funny that I recently recommended a handful of shows to a friend who has no TV reception and every one of them is in that list.
That was great! I have something in common with the blogger, it was Twin Peaks, then The X-Files that got me back into TV after many years of not even having one in the house. And one he didn't mention, Babylon5. Mostly excellent choices, and the Battlestar Galactia love sealed the deal.
And I agreed with most of the additions offered by the commenters, at least the ones I'm familiar with, here in the U.S. .... Six Feet Under, The Sopranos, the late & much lamented Carnivale, and The Wire, possibly the finest of all HBO's creations.
But I can never read anything about TV that mentions the Whedonverse without a serious attack of "I miss Joss, on TV".

[ edited by Shey on 2007-03-03 10:55 ]
I would pt the first seasons of Northern Exposure on that list. It lost it's way after a while, but so did Twin Peaks. Episodes like their first Christmas episode or any of what I used to call their themed episodes, were so great at exploring what makes humans tick.
Thanks, Eden, for bringing this over.

I also think BtVS is a great work of art. Joss is like Hitchcock and Dickens, an artist who can be appreciated on many levels. You just sick back and enjoy the yarn withouth thinking too deeply or you can choose to delve into the complexities of the story.
Yeah, what y'all said.

Heck, I have my own favorites too (Dick van Dyke,, ANdy Griffith, Willd Wild WEst, Muppett Show, Picket Fences) no reason to argue aboyut anybody else's selections. The column and we here basically aggreeeee on the reason why we're here so that's the point.
Just the very fact that college and university courses have been created to analyse and dissect the symbolism, meaning and superior writing of many of these shows speaks to the depth and quality of the writing. Not that I haven't taken some pretty flakey university courses but I would have killed to have been able to take a course on Twin Peaks or Buffy.

On a completely different note, each of the shows mentioned up to Firefly are the shows that my husband and I, who was "just a friend" back then watched together and bounded over. A relationship founded on quality television and comic books - ahh good times.
Buffy is indeed a great work of art.

Not sure I would use the word literature, though.
Yeah, on account of how it's a TV show. A very literate TV show for sure but that doesn't make it literature (which is art in written form - unless they did the whole 'changing the definitions overnight' thing again. Hate it when that happens ;).

I can see the analogy the blogger is trying to make between serial TV and novels though.

Can't really disagree with the list either though I seem to remember TV which tackled issues, asked questions and had depth before 'Twin Peaks' came along and I haven't really seen 'Millennium' so can't judge that.

(e.g. UK shows like 'Boys From the Black Stuff' or 'Edge of Darkness' or 'St. Elsewhere', 'Hill Street Blues' etc. in the US)
It's as much literature as theater plays are. Whether or not that purely means the shooting scripts or the final product is another thing though.

But in essence play scripts are as much a stepping stone to the final product as shooting scripts are to an episode of TV. And I've learned the hard way that the PTB behind English lit consider play scripts to be literature.
'Hamlet' is clearly great literature, when you see it performed though it becomes something else IMO (because it's an interpretation of the written word). Not that common usage should necessarily be the final arbiter of anything but when people come out of the theatre they don't say "What a great piece of literature" they say "What a great performance [of a great piece of literature]".

I'm unconvinced but you could at least make a case for the scripts being great literature, making one for the TV show would be much, much harder IMO. As people have pointed out with the comics coming up, BtVS (and pretty much any TV show) is about more than the words on the page (not that the comics aren't still Buffy but they're obviously certainly not still Buffy the TV show ;).
Basically good choices, but...a bit off topic..I can't understand why so many people leave "The Wire" off their lists of TV as fine art, whether "literature" or otherwise. I notice our local (Pittsburgh) TV reviewer never writes about it. Everything about this program is at such a high level-the writing, acting..and it's so intense, human...what can be up with this?
I can't understand why so many people leave "The Wire" off their lists of TV as fine art

Mainly because I haven't seen it. I've read all the good stuff about it, and I'll accept that it's really, really good. But it's also really, really violent, and the subject matter goes to inner city decay, a combination that falls outside of the places I usually go for either entertainment or fine art.
Toast .... there are a lot of critics who have given The Wire the recognition it so richly deserves, including a couple who have called it "the best show on TV". And I would add, hands down the best acting on TV, all from actors no one has ever heard of.
But this is another show that will never get the *broad* recognition it deserves, because not that many people are into in-depth, socially relevant, gritty, hard-hitting social commentary in their TV dramas. Thank the gods for HBO. And that Battlestar Galactic is coming on in a couple of hours :)

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