The absence of tormented artists on TV hardly reflects a lack of
influence of Byronic Romanticism in American culture. I think Don
Larsson is on the right track in noting this perspective morphs into
something else. I wouldn't say it's a trope, the harried liberal
professionals and angst-filled teens of 'quality tv' are not
metaphors for artists. For even if the creators of these shows are
working out their own demons, they don't necessarily see themselves
as artists, but more as harried liberal professionals and
angst-filled aging teenagers. So I think what we have here is a kind
of blending of the Byronic with a less Romantic strain of good old
fashioned American individualism, in which we see that being that
unique individual has its dark side along with its upside (genius!).
Even in movies, tortured artists are generally only the subject of
films for the art house crowd, not really the sort of mass audience
fare one typically expects on broadcast TV. Artists are, after all,
like intellectuals the sort of effete Euro-types mainstream American
thought tends to denigrate.
Even when the Romantic artists morphs into something else and/or
mates with the rugged individualist the result still seems more
appropriate for the movies than for TV, where the old dictum of 'the
people have to want to invite the character into their home every
week seems to apply.' Nevertheless, tormented geniuses of one
age/occupation do pop up on TV now anad again: for example 'House'
currently on Fox.
One show that featured creative workers and angst was
'thirtysomething', though I don't think its view was all that
Romantic, though one might analyse the characters, especially Gary,
as deflations of the Byronic ideal.
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