Cable television is depressing! It's not sad due to great heart tugging scripts, but rather it's sad because most cable networks don't even try anymore.
I grew up in the pre-cable TV era. I remember the 3 networks and PBS. If you were lucky, you had a fourth local channel which broadcast syndicated shows and movies all weekend long, but that was it. I remember the first top loading VCR my family got. The fact we could choose to watch something we wanted to watch at any time felt like a freaking revolution. It was freedom to be able to tape a show and watch it back at our convenience.
I remember when we moved into our first neighborhood with cable. It was Edina, MN in 1983. Before we moved there, I was living in Georgia. I'd been hearing about all these cool new TV channels; a sports channel, a weather channel, a channel which played music videos only! I wanted to see them, but our neighborhood, in rural Buford, was years away from getting cable. We had a neighbor who had one of those HUGE satellite dishes. We were allowed to go watch "all the channels" he had, but all he had was the east coast and the west coast feeds of the major networks, and a channel from Brazil. That was new.
Edina being a wealthy community, cable TV was already in every neighborhood by 1983. One of the first times I hung out with kids in Minnesota was about 10 of us watching MTV. Three hours of watching music videos, and we all felt like we had just gotten into the most exclusive club. As the 80's rolled on, cable TV just got better and better. A cartoon channel, a fine arts channel, a comedy network, a history network, a food network; eventually when it exploded with news and sports options it became the place to go. I think late 90's and early 2000's cable TV was it's golden age.
But then it faltered. Most cable networks stopped producing as many shows, or moved into reality shows which were inexpensive. The more they could cut costs the more simplistic the programming became. I started to look at cable TV with the same disdain I had for network TV. I remember in the early 1990's when I started watching more cable TV than network TV, but cable TV was now unoriginal and tired.
As unwatchable as cable TV is today, it's a shame they didn't learn from their own success. Case in point, the Mystery Science Theater 3000 Turkey Day broadcast. A 24 hour span of MST3K riffing at its finest. Imagine if a cable TV channel continued to air this sort of programming instead of abandoning it for cheaper fare? I remember in 2013 when Shout Factory streamed a version of Turkey Day and I watched it there. The minute Cable TV drove people to find programming in other places because their 200+ channels were not entertaining enough, it was over.
About three years ago, I started watching FAR more streaming services than Cable TV. I think the only reason I have cable TV today is sports.
Back in 1991, MST3K aired it's first Turkey Day Marathon. Here are all of the promo bits they did for the original broadcast. It's so cool someone saved these.