10 Actors, Creators and Executives on "The Golden Age of TV"

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If there was one recurring theme at this year’s TCA Summer Press Tour, it was “the golden age of television” and the notion that we’re living smack dab in the middle of it. The subject seemed to come up in nearly every panel; most see it as an overwhelmingly positive place to be—after all, there’s more great TV than ever before—but some, like FX’s John Landgraf, expressed concern about oversaturation. Can we, in fact, have too much of a good thing?

That remains to be seen, but in the meantime, we’ve compiled some of the discussion about this golden era from the press tour. Check out what these 10 actors, creators and executives had to say about the matter below.

Jon Hamm, Mad Men
“Now, we’re beyond the golden age. It’s downloadavision or streamovision or whatever we will be calling it. In our eight seasons, or seven and a half seasons, it took three seasons for people to realize we were not on A&E. It was the critics who compiled critical mass and let it rise from the noise. It’s been a fascinating journey. When I auditioned—eight times—literally no one wanted to cast me. Matt [Weiner] had to repeatedly push for me. I can only thank him for the last nine years and a singular creative experience.”

Rodes Fishburne, creator/executive producer, Blood & Oil
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“Well, this is the golden age of television, so I’m told, and if you ask any novelist, they’re interested in the golden age of anything, because this is not the golden age of novels right now. So what I found interesting about this project was it was a huge canvas speaking of Sinclair Lewis it was a huge canvas to tell a lot of interconnected stories in a way that was analogous to the way a novel can be sprawling and tell a lot of stories but with great characters, and so that’s what drew me to this.”

Priyanka Chopra, Quantico
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“I’m a huge fan of television shows, of American TV especially. And I feel like all the content and the best content in the world has suddenly come into American TV, and it’s like the golden phase of television right now. And I wanted to be a part of that, I guess, revolution in a way. And the only thing I had said to, I guess, ABC was that I wanted to do a show which gave me the respect of being an actor instead of casting me for the color of my skin or what I looked like or where I come from. Because ever since I was a kid and I went to school in America, I never saw anybody who looked like me on TV, and this was an opportunity for me to change that.”

McG, director, Kevin From Work
“I just think we are living in a golden age of television where if you look at the, you know, north star for all of us in Game of Thrones, it takes a lot of hours to tell a story properly, so fingers crossed on that one, a long way to go, and we’ll see you guys in January.”

Kate Bosworth, The Art of More
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“I always just look for a script and character that intrigues me. It doesn’t particularly matter the medium. And obviously, we’re living in an age where there’s some really enticing stories being told on TV, particularly with streaming. I really enjoy the process of developing a character longer than an hour and a half. It’s something that I’ve been seeking out and I’ve been interested in.”

Fred Savage, The Grinder
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“I think it’s a tip of the hat to the golden age of television, when the lawyer shows were written so well and were so well-researched and so in-depth that Rob[’s character] can actually survive in the real world based on that. It’s really an homage to TV.”

Rob Lowe, The Grinder
“And the other thing, the old sort of sensibility that America might find things about Hollywood too inside to me feels so pre-digital age. It’s like, my family lives in Dayton, Ohio. Okay? And I go back there all the time. And I’ll be at the Stop and Go getting a Slurpee, and somebody will come up to me and go, “Boy, that per-screen average on the second Twilight franchise was really down.” So it’s like, “I got news. News flash, America understands show business.”

John Landgraf, President, FX Network
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“I think what you’re describing is the benefit of the proliferation of television shows, you know, which is that there was relative uniformity when there were three or four networks, and it was a uniformity perspective, and there were very few minority viewpoints represented on television, because it was all sort of clustered towards the middle and what was perceived as the majority, and I think it’s a great thing that we don’t have that anymore. And I guess I would say that I think large portfolios, large brands, will always be able to sustain some outliers, and will, right? So I believe that AMC and its various channels and FX and its various channels and HBO and its multiplex and various channels and Netflix and others are going to continue to do this.

What I don’t think is going to happen is I don’t think that independent channels are going to fare particularly well in the future. So there’s a lot of programming coming from diverse sources. And to tell you the truth, it’s just the nature of every industry, that you seem to have proliferation and then consolidation, right? We’ve seen that in multiple industries, and I think you’re about to see a situation where there’s a little bit of a culling one, there’s going to be a little bit of a culling of the herd, and there’s going to be a little bit of consolidation. But I don’t really see television returning to the “bad old days” putting quotes around that, because there was always good programming made, but the bad old days when there was a startling lack of diversity. And I think there’s more diversity each year than there was the year before, and I think that’s going to continue. Again, I think that reflects transformation in American society.”

Michaela Watkins, Casual
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“What I love is that because usually I used to say—and I think you can probably relate to this—but I used to say, ‘oh, I like that show, so that show will be canceled in T minus five, four.’ And then, now what’s crazy is in this sort of golden age that we’re in with television is that things I like, the audiences find it, and I think that these digital platforms like this, this is a perfect way where the audiences that will dig it can find it, support it, and then they continue. And so these little more niche type shows, which are the ones that I personally really find fulfilling, have more opportunity for actors like me, I guess, who are sort of not super mainstream.”

Craig Erwich, Head of Content, Hulu
“I know you’ve heard the cliché we’re living in the golden age of television a million times already this week. But one, it’s true. And two, you’ve all been a huge part of making this golden age possible. You guys were the early adopters. You’ve treated series from streaming services with the same respect as you do traditional networks and cable channels. You’ve championed this remarkable expansion, not just for Hulu, but for the entire streaming landscape. And I think TV’s better for it.”

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