A couple weeks ago, we told you about Hulu's bracket to determine the best show on television. On opening day of the actual March Madness, the contest is down to eight and the results are a little surprising: Not exactly populist, not exactly critical consensus. We originally thought this was sort of an exercise in futility because the match ups wouldn't make any sense, but things are turning out to be more enlightening than you might expect.
Glee, which we would describe as the show with the most public visibility (and, in some weeks, the highest ratings as well), was ousted last week by Dexter, of all things. On the other end of the spectrum, Breaking Bad, which is probably the most critically acclaimed show on TV right now, lost badly to House, which is at its core a populist show.
We do not know how many people are voting in this thing or how good a cross-section of the online TV watching audience we're getting. And it's true that the TV critic playing MC of this whole thing has a vote. His influence (to the tune of 5%), may well be the factor that's creating this odd middle ground of shows, but we think there's something else, too: The eight shows that have made it to this point look a lot like the ones that really resonate with people in a very uncomplicated way right now. We're looking at very much a middle-brow culture of television advancing to this point. And that's a standard many cultural institutions are losing touch with. On to the current round, with current voting results:
Community 63% vs. The Office 36%
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Chuck 72% vs. Modern Family 27%
House 58% vs. Mad Men 41% 41%
Dexter 49% vs. How I Met Your Mother 50%
We don't understand the appeal of Chuck at all, but other than that there's nothing too shocking here. If the middle-brow theory is true, it sort of makes sense that Mad Men would go down -- it's hardly light consumption. Community is a little too disdainful of its own characters for our taste, but then The Office is a shell of its former self at this point. Go vote. This round ends in three days.