VALDEZ: Media consumers must blaze new paths rather than follow trends

Opinion Column: The Power of an Open Mind

At long last. After several days of classes, homework and hanging out with friends, it was finally time. I had been waiting for the past few days for this moment. I sat in my room, turned the lights off and turned on the Xbox. 

I then scrolled to the glorious HBO app. I grabbed my snacks, and clicked on the new episode of “Succession.” I was in heaven, consumed by the drama of the Roy family. 

You might be wondering who the Roy family is. Well, you would know if you took advantage of the free HBO Go account that Rutgers provides its students. That is right, all you have to do is go to the HBO Go website and select Rutgers University as your TV provider. 

As soon as you log in, you hit the jackpot. You now have immediate and unlimited access to shows such as “The Sopranos,” “Game of Thrones,” “Westworld” and, most recently, “Succession.” If you have not done so already, stop reading this and go log in. If you have a computer or smartphone, there is no excuse. Why not get the most you can out of the ridiculous tuition you pay here?

With countless shows and movies readily available to consumers nowadays, it is easy for many of them to fly under the radar. Most of them will never achieve the colossal viewership numbers that critically acclaimed dramas such as “Game of Thrones” and “Breaking Bad” got. 

For example, the “Game of Thrones” series finale got 19.3 million viewers, while the “Breaking Bad” finale got 10.3 million. “The Sopranos” season four premiere got 13.6 million viewers. On the other hand, the season two premiere of “Succession” had just 1.2 million viewers. 

By comparison, “Succession” seems to be an insignificant show. It not only has unspectacular viewership numbers, but also it is nowhere near as pop-culture trendy as the other shows mentioned. Does that mean it is forgettable or mediocre? Absolutely not. With the help of superb acting by Jeremy Strong and Brian Cox, it takes you through one of the most suspenseful family dramas that I have seen in quite some time. 

Think of it like “The Godfather” as a modern TV show. Rather than the mafia, Logan Roy (Cox) is the CEO of Waystar Royco, an international media conglomerate. He employs his kids, including Kendall (Strong), Roman (Kieran Culkin) and Siobhan (Sarah Snook) to help him run the company. The show is more than a rich family in suits being powerful. It displays internal struggles in each family member. 

Logan struggles with the constant demands and pressures of being the boss, while the kids often compete over who can be the most useful to him. Although they are wealthy and famous, they are just like anyone else. They want to be validated and appreciated by their father.

This coming Sunday, HBO will premier the seventh episode of season two. Catching up on this show is not the same kind of mammoth task as it is to catch up on more saturated shows, such as the ones mentioned earlier. If you watched one episode each day for the next three weeks, you would be finished and ready for season three. 

If you enjoy drama shows, I am confident that you will not only like this show, but also you will binge it. We all know that avoiding the “next episode” icon is far easier said than done. 

I assure you that I am not trying to be a commercial for “Succession.” Rather, I simply want to shed light on something that is not necessarily trendy or popular. There are hundreds of other shows like this. Rather than settling for what everyone else watches, be a trend setter among your friends and family. 

If it were not for my roommate, I probably would have never watched this show. But thanks to him, I am now recommending it to my loved ones, as well as you. When you enjoy and follow something that is not popular, it feels special, as if you are part of an elite group. Starting that group is much more fun than joining one that already exists.

 Joshua Valdez is a School of Arts and Sciences junior majoring in journalism and media studies and double-minoring in creative writing and cinema studies. His column, “The Power of an Open Mind,” runs on alternate Fridays. 


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