In fact, perhaps ironically, if you doubt for a moment that there is still a cultural class distinction between television and film or television and novels, look to the eagerness of people who are enthusiastic about television to compare it to film or novels. It’s the new cinema! It’s the new novel! Is TV better than movies? Are movies better than television? Is this show so lovingly made that it can be called … cinematic?
If you ask these questions, let me ask you these questions: Is an avocado better than a hammer? Is a fish better than a skateboard? Who cares? Things are different from each other. Ranking a television comedy against a television drama is bogus enough without dragging movies and books into it. And yet: here we are. Not because these distinctions are particularly well supported by evidence, but because they are expedient, and because they help people organize their cultural worlds – which is a very understandable impulse growing out of the sad, beautiful fact that we’re all going to miss almost everything.