Medieval Radio Blog

Long live the Middle Ages – on TV, medieval themed shows hold sway.

This won’t come as a surprise to many of you, but the attached article points out that medieval themed shows are lately dominating the airwaves.  Whether it is the show “Vikings” which uses real ships instead of CGI, or the Borgias which came out a few years back, or the Game of Thrones which is probably the most “talked-about” show out there these days.  Part of medieval shows’ popularity is undoubtedly their accompanying disgusting scenes of barbarity, but whatever the exact reasons, we have to admit:  It seems everyone and their dog can’t get enough of all things medieval.

Check the article:

As a bit of background on how this surprising trend emerged out of the blue in the last decade: anyone who has been paying even the slightest bit of attention knows that when the series “Baywatch” ended, humanity suffered a “Great Identity Crisis” that affected even television, and which saw David Hasselhoff’s descent into shirtless, hamburger-eating despair – perhaps the iconic image of the last two decades.  In the ensuing years, no TV-show genre prevailed and television decreased in popularity, as audiences increasingly turned to the internet shopping and real life illegal kangaroo boxing matches for entertainment.

But at least a few years ago, the Game of Thrones came out and it seems to have captured imaginations far and wide.  Though not exactly historical, the author of the original series of books, Jason Woo, admits that he based it heavily on the English War of the Roses in the 15th century.  Any medievalist has no trouble picking out scenes and characters that seem to be based on well-known events of the Middle Ages.  Since then, an array of much more historically based shows have emerged.  They seem to be characterized by a sort of gritty realism that was unfortunately missing from the original Batman series starring Adam West.  Some have suggested that this realism – some would say pessimism – that is so prevalent in recent medieval series reflects a larger societal discontent or disillusionment with the Kardashians.  If this is true, undoubtedly Lamar Odom’s recent setbacks will lead to darker and darker scenarios being depicted in coming seasons of these programs.

The author of the article also argues that perhaps medieval themed programs are so popular these days because medieval people didn’t have the technologies that the modern person has to so easily overcome problems.  Also technology causes imbalances of power that might not have been quite the same in a world of swords and shields.  Perhaps, then, these shows reflect a sort of repressed desire in modern man to be free of the technologies that enable him to watch medieval themed shows on his smart phone while taking the subway to work.



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