The FX channel broke into the big leagues with the show The Shield about a decade ago. The show focused on a quartet of caucasian cops who murdered and robbed with impunity. In other words it was a ratings and critical success and the formula was simple: eliminate the realism and the African-American protagonists from The Wire. It was over-the-top entertainment, but taken for that it was a solid show (with one of the greatest final couple of episodes of any show I’ve seen not named Six Feet Under). But The Shield was a sign of the future at FX, which is owned by the News Corp, which owns an even more well-known producer of over-the-top fiction, Fox News. Here is where FX fits into the pantheon of non-network television show producers:
HBO– The Untouchable Legend. Even though their shows now are not as great as the Sopranos/Wire/Six Feet Under heyday HBO still makes uncompromising high quality drama and comedy (with the exception of the increasingly Glee-ish True Blood).
Showtime– HBO’s likeable, but much dumber younger sibling. Dexter is a very solid, but slightly overrated show, Weeds is a piece of sh*t and I think Californication is actually the best show on the Network, but what do I know – I write a blog for 15 people.
USA – Annoying Puns. it seems that USA has one requirement: the show must be able to be summarized in a pun-filled title. Royal Pains, Burn Notice, White Collar and their newest featuring a hot chick in the poster – Fairly Legal – Less Lawyer, More Appeal (get it!!!!!). Which is leading to the their next big show – Dr. DoMore – Less Sore Throat, More Deep Throat.
TNT– My sister-in-law likes The Closer. That is basically all I know. And they picked up Southland, which is the shittiest of the “gritty cop dramas.”
AMC– The “We are better than you network” and the only potential challenger to HBO. Everyone loves Mad Men, but anyone who reads these posts, my tweets or my Facebook page knows that the best show on television right now, by a mile, is AMC’s Breaking Bad.
That leads us to FX:
Platonic Porn For (Preferably Conservative at Heart) White Men
Here is the evidence of all the shows I can think of from FX:
The Shield– angry, white cops take on foreigners, and Mexican and black gangs in LA. They kill at will, drop the occasional racial slur, but are always the badass heroes.
Nip/Tuck – Two white dudes give chicks boob implants and have lots of sex I think. This is the one I never saw, but I think that is a fair assessment.
Rescue Me – A bunch of white firefighters and their light-skinned minority firefighter friend have lots of sex working as the number one non-celebrity/investment banking/athlete profession for getting women for white men.
Sons of Anarchy– A bunch of white, anti-big government, motorcycle riding men and their one Puerto Rican member pit Mexican and black gangs against each other through gun running (but they also fight white supremacists to show that they’re not THAT bad). They manage to keep corporate America and big government out of their sleepy town that they rule with a leather-clad, tatooed iron fist.
Justified – A white US Marshall returns to his Kentucky hometown where he doesn’t quite play by the rules, in a place where everyone has a gun and isn’t afraid to use it. There is a black woman on the show.
Archer – an animated show that is presumably a tip of the cap to the hipster comedy crowd (which is pretty big in urban markets the same way Mitch Hedberg was huge in Camden, New Jersey). There is one black character as well.
And their newest show, which I really do like a lot – “Lights Out”. It is about an American born heavyweight boxing champ making a comeback. Other than Nip/Tuck’s abundance of fake boobs, the white Heavyweight champ is right up their with Sarah Palin as the conservative white man’s fantasy.
So basically, FX has become the official channel of the Tea Party: the “keep your taxes out of my town, keep your hands of my guns, keep your minorities off of my screen and let me see some fake tits” channel. I enjoy Sons of Anarchy and Justified, but they are not great shows. They are solid shows. I think my favorite is Lights Out, but most of these shows just feel like someone has taken Fox News pundits and made them actions stars. Individually, the shows are entertaining, but in the aggregate it is hard to ignore the overwhelming trend, even if I sound like a 1986 Al Sharpton. So I guess for all those tea party folks who have been begging for their country back, their prayers have been answered. Just turn on FX any night of the week.