On the occasion of World Television Day, the eternal question of television’s role in the sphere of communication crops up once again. Despite the multitude of changes in the way people consume content, television continues to be the single largest source of video entertainment.
So, in acknowledgment of its significance, Silverscreen India has picked eight movies and shows that highlight the inner workings of television networks from a variety of genres. Some are funny, some are thought-provoking, but all of them ultimately capture the true essence of television – entertainment.
The Morning Show (2019-Present)
Starring Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston, this drama series is about Alex Levy (Aniston), a popular news anchor whose job is on the line after her partner of 15 years is fired for sexual misconduct. As the host of a breakfast news program, she struggles to retain her position and power while also accepting her new co-host Bradley (Witherspoon).
The Morning Show is a hard-hitting series about the professional dynamics inside the modern workplace and real-life political issues told through the eyes of a news anchor.
This sitcom is about a British couple who move to Hollywood to remake their hit show Lyman’s Boys for the American audience. However, they begin to feel disillusioned when they find out that the network remaking their show has hired former Friends star, Matt LeBlanc, to play the lead role. Feeling that he is unsuited for the role, they are also taken aback by the changes that he makes to his character and the show.
Episodes is a fun look into the workings of a sitcom with quirky characters, bizarre relationship turns, and LeBlanc playing a fictionalised and over-the-top version of himself.
The Truman Show (1998)
Directed by Peter Wier, this 1998 psychological comedy-drama is about Truman (Jim Carrey), an ordinary upbeat man who discovers that his life is actually a reality show. From his neighbours to his family, he realises that everyone is an actor and every move of his is caught by hidden cameras. With an elaborate set and religious product placement, Truman’s entire life is constructed and controlled by the megalomaniacal director Christoff (Ed Harris).
The Truman Show is a thought-provoking and heartfelt take on the concept of reality TV and is especially relevant today with such shows dominating the television space.
Morning Glory (2010)
A recently-fired news producer (Rachel McAdams) ends up with the task of turning around a morning show of a virtually unknown network. To boost ratings, she manages to get a veteran journalist Mike (Harrison Ford) to help achieve this task. However, he is less than thrilled and tries to do everything in his power to sabotage the show.
Morning Glory may have a derivative story but its star cast and light plot make it a breezy watch.
The Critic (1994-1995)
In this animated show, Jon Lovitz voices the fictional film critic Jay Sherman. Known for being elitist and hard-to-please, Jay tears apart movies with his signature line “It Stinks!” on his show Coming Attractions.
The Critic is famous for its movie references and parody of famous personalities like Howard Stern and Roger Egbert. While it is best known as a satire on the entertainment industry, the show’s comedy is also dependent on Jay’s personal life.
30 Rock (2006-2013)
A Primetime Emmy Award-winning comedy show, 30 Rock was created by Tina Fey. Liz Lemon (Fey) is a successful Hollywood screenwriter of a comedy sketch series called TGS with Tracy Jordan. Despite her experience and success, her everyday battles include working under her conservative boss Jack (Alec Baldwin), her best friend Jenna’s (Jane Krakowski) obsession with becoming a big actress, and the sketch’s unpredictable star Tracy Jordan (Tracy Morgan).
Between Two Ferns: The Movie (2019)
After the success of his satirical talk show of the same name, Netflix ordered a spin-off movie where Zach Galifianakis hits the road to conduct celebrity interviews after going viral on the internet for ‘drowning’ Matthew McConaughey. Between Two Ferns: The Movie not only sees multiple celebrities such as Paul Rudd, Awkwfina, and David Letterman making appearances, it also captures the hilarious relationship between Galifianakis and his camera crew.
Starring Faye Dunaway, Peter Finch, and William Holden, this critically-acclaimed satirical black comedy-drama film is about ratings-hungry television networks. It revolves around a news anchor (Finch) who threatens to commit suicide on-air after finding out that he is being phased out. However, his on-screen rant causes ratings to rise, and the programming chief Diane (Dunaway) decides to exploit this and create a new program that is even more outrageous.
Directed by Sidney Lumet, Network was widely praised upon release and went on to win four Oscars – Best Actress for Dunaway, Best Actor for Finch, Best Supporting Actress (Beatrice Straight) and Best Original Screenplay (Paddy Chayefsky).