Karl Puschmann is an entertainment writer for the New Zealand Herald.

Karl Puschmann: Why won't TV screen these hit shows?

We've got access up the wazoo but few shows set pulses racing, writes Karl Puschmann.

Today there is more TV than ever before. You've got freeview, pay-per-view, online streaming, on-demand, on-a-schedule, pay subscriptions, pay subscription channels, pay subscription packages that include discounted pay subscription channels and YouTube.

There is more available to watch than there are hours in the day to watch it all. I'm talking a lot of content here, tremendous amounts of content, believe me.

Not only that, it's more accessible than it's ever been. You don't even need a television to watch TV anymore. I routinely see cats on my commute watching TV on their phones. On their phones! What a time to be alive.

Okay, sure, not all of it is great TV. Or even good TV for that matter. A lot of it is pretty lousy if I'm honest. But still, there's a lot of it. That must count for something, right?

Besides, quality is in the eye of the beholder. After all, one man's Real Housewives is another's real hell.

But even if you showed incredible, near inhuman restraint and accessed only one of these content options you'd still have way more TV available than you could be reasonably expected to put in front of your eyeballs without making it a full time job.

Hi mum...

So at the risk of sounding like an entitled little sod or, alternatively, a grumpy old man, let me just say that even though we are ridiculously over-indulged, spoilt even, there is simply not enough TV.

Not even close.

Say whaaaat? Let me explain.

Our available programming has gaping holes in it. We've got cooking and renovating shows up the ying-yang yes, but you think we can get a legit hit onscreen? Nope.

Only four of the top 10 new TV shows ranked and rated on the review aggregating website Metacritic are screening here. Four!

Now, I'm no mathematician but some quick back-of-the-napkin calculations show that's not even half. And that, friends, is woeful.

We can't watch Atlanta, the inspired new dramedy from Donald Glover (Community) which charts the life of two cousins navigating the rap game.

We can't watch Fleabag, the BBC's smash comedy about a young woman's experience in London that is being favourably likened to Girls.

We can't watch Better Things, Pamela Adlon's new dramedy about life as a working mother of three kids. Adlon, in case you don't know her, is a long time collaborator of incredibly successful comic Louis CK. So it's no surprise to learn he returns the favour by contributing to a number of episodes. But it is a surprise to learn we can't watch it.

Hold on, wait a minute, wait a minute. African-Americans... young women... working mothers... What's going on? Is an old white man in charge of TV programming in this country or what?

Ok, ok. Put the pitchforks down. I'm just kidding around. I mean, maybe? I don't know. Though I seriously doubt there's a conspiracy at work and am entirely convinced it's boring business matters keeping these shows off our screens.

Besides, the other couple of shows in the new show top 10 that we're not getting couldn't get any whiter.

There's Minnie Driver's new sitcom Speechless about a family with a special needs child, Kristen Bell's new comedy The Good Place about her being mistakenly dead and Take My Wife, a fictionalised account of the real life marriage between two comedians.

This is only scratching the surface of the stuff we can't watch. I'm old enough to remember when there were only two channels to choose from so I totally get how ungrateful this sounds.

It's not all doom and gloom though. There has been very real and dramatic improvement in this area, especially in just the past year.

Lightbox deserve kudos for making critically praised shows like Mr Robot, Preacher, and Better Call Saul available almost immediately.

As does Sky who got Game of Thrones, The Night Of and Wayward Pines on the telly in record time.

TVNZ have also raised their game massively. They fast track most of their popular shows across all their channels, including The Walking Dead, The Flash and Mandy Moore's new dramedy This Is Us.

Gone are the days of waiting six months to a year for shows to, er, show up...

It's good, yes. But there's still room for huge improvements to be made. Atlanta is blowing up in the States. The final season of the British cult classic Peep Show screened in the UK last year. There's no word on either screening here anytime soon.

TV is more accessible than it's ever been. There's more programmes, more choice and more ways to view it. It's incredible. It's amazing. It's still not good enough.

- NZ Herald

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