In the world of television most storylines fly despite the extreme, impractical, and even unrealistic situations created by writers. Take Lost, for example. This show ran a total of six seasons and left viewers waiting until the last episode to discover the relationship between life on the island and the sideways worlds — and some are still confused or upset about how the show wrapped. There is no denying that drama on television draws in viewers. Otherwise, why else would fans have kept up with the twists and turns of Lost from week to week?
While it is difficult to pinpoint what specific piece of drama keeps people coming back, for many, technology seems to be an increasingly key element driving the main characters actions and emotions.
Just recently, I discovered the show Pretty Little Liars (via Hulu.com show suggestions), a series on ABC based on young adult novels by Sara Shepard. The story follows four girls who are each dealing with their own life issues, held together by a shared secret: the fact that they are all receiving texts from their friend who has died. Think Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants meets Gossip Girl, with a little more edge.
About ten minutes into the show, it suddenly hit me — cell phones and other mobile devices are helping move the plot along. Viewers are being persuaded to hold on for just one more second to read comments on a cell phone or laptop so that they can “better” understand the exact outcome of the episode. And it’s not just fluff shows following the trend. We've seen shows like 24 and Jericho use cell phones to create drama, and a new fictional series airing in China called “Cell Phone” uses mobile devices to reveal extra-marital affairs.
Even though I think the use of technology on television makes shows realistic, I can’t help but wonder: when does it become overkill? Do actors really need to constantly have cell phones dangling in front of them for viewers to pay attention? And, do viewers need that modern connection to find interest in the plot?
Maybe I am simply nostalgic for television shows that actually tell a story sans electronics, but my preference is to hear a conversation rather than read one. Isn’t that the point of dedicating yourself to an hour or two of television? I think so. Perhaps minimizing the amount of cell phone use throughout a show could help improve the suspense or dramatic effect. Although, I will probably continue to watch shows that are overrun with technology, my hope is that suspense will make its return to television. However, in the meantime, I will not be jumping out of my seat fearful of a text-messaging ghost.
-Contributed by Michelle Hacunda. Follow her @Michelle_Belle6