Ask Alan: Why Do People Like To Watch ‘Misery Porn’?

Time for another installment of Ask Alan, as I take your questions about the past, present, and future of TV.

First up this week, my recent posts about ER (including last week’s video) inspired a discussion of shows people watch because they make them sad, and where the line is between emotional catharsis and what the questioner described as “misery porn.”

Up next: what serialized drama first got the reputation for putting its biggest developments in the penultimate episode of a season, rather than in the finale? Had this been asked even a year ago, I’d have probably said The Sopranos, but having just turned in a manuscript for a Sopranos book (out next January), I can confidently say that show’s reputation for putting climactic stuff in episode 12 rather than 13 is mostly overblown.

Finally, though I wasn’t at TCA this winter (in part because of my book deadline), I did keep up with a lot of the news and quotes, including all the conflicting information about Starz’s American Gods, which is still trying to replace showrunners Bryan Fuller and Michael Green for season two. I tried to untangle exactly what’s going on with a show I found flawed but interesting.

As always, you can email me questions at askalan@uproxx.com, or tweet at me with the hashtag #AskAlanDay.

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