Is anybody watching the same TV shows anymore?

“When the golden age of television started in the late 1990s, all you needed to keep on top of good TV was a premium cable package that included HBO. When streaming entered the game in the early 2010s, you could get by with a basic Netflix subscription for $8 a month, maybe a Hulu subscription if you were a true TV buff. Now, there’s still cable and there’s still Netflix and Hulu — but there’s also Prime and Paramount+ and Disney+ and Apple TV+ and Peacock and Max. Oh, and if you want to keep your Netflix subscription fee low, you have to watch ads now.
It’s all a lot, way more than most people can keep track of. A 2023 Nielsen report found audiences now spend an average of 10.5 minutes searching for something to watch every time they sit down. At least one in five audience members have been so overwhelmed with all the choices the post-streaming world has for them that they’ve chosen to forgo TV to do something else instead.

Under these circumstances, it takes a lot for any one individual show to cut through the noise and find a critical mass of people waiting to watch it, much less discuss it. When they do decide to discuss it, they’re going to different places than they used to.”

“One of the sticking points for the Writer’s Guild in 2023 was the rise of so-called “mini rooms” as an increasingly standard practice over the last 10 or so years as the streaming platforms began to build their libraries. A classic TV writer’s room can include seven or eight writers, but mini rooms include only two or three writers plus a showrunner.

Mini rooms typically emerged when a show was in limbo waiting to be greenlit, either for production or for a new season. The idea was that the showrunner could take on a few extra writers and a few weeks to plan the season they were pitching, which executives would then evaluate before they committed to filming episodes. The writers for a mini room were hired as freelancers and paid to scale, and there was no guarantee they would stick around if the show continued on to regular production. One of the biggest issues with this practice, the WGA argued, was that mini rooms cut young writers off from the classic apprenticeship system of TV writing.

Young writers were by and large not attractive to showrunners who needed to staff up a mini room to churn out a season’s worth of scripts fast. If young writers did get hired, they didn’t get mentorship from the older and more experienced writers they were working with, because those writers didn’t have time for it. By the time the episodes they wrote went into production, they were no longer working for the show and had no chance to come to the set, see how their script worked in practice, and adjust their practices for the future based on the new information.

The new WGA contract essentially killed off mini rooms, but for the next few years, we’ll be living in the creative ecosystem they birthed. That’s a world where upcoming talent had limited opportunities to learn the craft of their medium, and it has started to show.”

Review: The Disputed Roots of the Cuban Sandwich

“the Cuban-American haven of Miami is unwilling to concede the fight, claiming that Tampa’s Cuban sandwich is not authentic. The Miami preparation of the sandwich is more traditional, while Tampa’s includes salami—an Italian meat. This is explained by the droves of Italians who moved to Cuban-dominated communities in Central Florida after the lynchings of Italian-Americans in New Orleans throughout the 1890s.
The evolution of the Cuban sandwich exemplifies how Florida’s historical embrace of immigrants has created new delicacies we can all enjoy together.”

The case for reimagining the nuclear family

“I’m talking about letting your kids spend more time with their grandparents. Let your kids spend more time with other loving adults in your community. They might be your neighbors, they might be your college friends. They might be your colleagues at work. In a lot of religious traditions, there are these things called godparents; the idea is that a couple has a parental backup plan in case you and your partner dies. But it’s really a case where religious traditions are trying to instantiate a relationship with other adults in their children’s lives, so that they’re surrounded by a loving community of adults.”

“if you think about the evolutionary anthropology of the family, we’ve always been these cooperative breeders. Older siblings have always played a role in raising young children because unlike other non-human primates, we have our children very close together and they’re so dependent on us and we’ve always relied on broader networks.
I don’t say in the book that you should go join a commune and give up your parental rights or something like that. But I do point out that there are some states in the US which now allow for what’s called de facto parenting. So if you’re a divorced couple, and let’s say there’s a stepparent, a stepmother, or a stepfather who’s providing parental care, in many states that person cannot become a legal guardian unless the biological parent gives up their parental rights. So some states are saying, why shouldn’t children have three parents? Why not four parents in LGBTQ+ communities where you might have a surrogate mother and an egg donor and maybe two sperm donors? Or in the case of mitochondrial replacement therapy, which is where you have an egg from one woman, and then the mitochondria of that egg is from a second woman, and then you have a sperm donor. You literally have a child that is biologically related to three adults, three parents.

But our society doesn’t really know what to do with a non-bi-parental model of care. And so there are legal interventions we could make. There are social interventions that we could make. We could really take godparenting seriously and think hard about identifying other adults that can be a presence in our children’s lives as they grow up. I don’t think anybody would say that that’s a bad thing.

It is not psychologically healthy for us to be so isolated and to have all of our love and care from just two people, and I think this became really apparent to people during the pandemic. And now that we are coming out of that, I want people to think, “Hey, maybe those pandemic pods were a great idea! Maybe we should keep them around in some form as a supplement to our parenting efforts.””

“the whole point of this book is to ask what we can do in the absence of state intervention. I’m not talking about socialism here. I’m saying that if we’re not talking about top-down transformations from the state, what are the sorts of things people can do in their own lives within their own communities?”