Which Are Better Written, Movies or Television?

Which Are Better Written, Movies or Television?

E-mail debates of newsworthy topics.
May 26 1999 2:12 AM

Which Are Better Written, Movies or Television?

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Surprisingly, as I read your letter, I found myself in strong agreement with you, except for the section where you refer to me as a self-hating Jew. But then you win me back by dismissing Life Is Beautiful as pap. And I'm happy to go along with your suggestion we drop Slate's little context for our discussion. It seems pointless to me too to make comparisons of quality of writing when there are so very few current examples of magnificently written TV shows or movies. And let's also agree to retire the award for creatively more robust medium, which you hand to television by a nose and then withdraw two paragraphs later when the only TV shows you're able to come up with as exceptional are three that are no longer running.

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So where does this leave us? I'm fresh out of topics for debate, particularly when you rule out "gratuitous personal assault." And examining your letter for a wisp of controversy, I agree with many of your attacks on me and every word of your praise. But there is cyberspace to be filled, so let's begin searching for something worth our discussing. We could talk about your personal life, and I'd even promise not to "go negative." But I don't know anything about you. Which is why my personal assault on you could be nothing but gratuitous. Please interpret none of this as an apology. I'm happy to apologize for things I've done wrong, once someone has managed to convince me. And, by the way, I don't intend that to be a gauntlet.

Or we could discuss my own personal life, actually a favorite topic of mine. And I'll provide you some fresh meat: I'm the happiest I've ever been in my life, I have a 2 1/2 -year-old daughter who is as sweet and smart and scrumptious as any you'll ever meet, a delightful if currently sleep-deprived bride of 11 years who is health editor of this city's newspaper and writes crisp and compelling articles on science and medicine for publications I would never otherwise read, and we all three spend oodles of warm and loving time together.

Oh well, maybe we can debate the personal lives of others.

I guess I'll leave it to you, Ari, to choose a topic in which you believe passionately, or maybe two or three, and it can relate to TV, movies, or even be personal. Or cosmic. Or possibly some fifth, sixth, or seventh thing I haven't even thought of. Then just hurl it e-mailically my way out here in Santa Barbara, where I'll be assuming a kind of crouched position, which I'm in a lot of the time anyway, with the 2 1/2-year-old and all.

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We have the whole beautiful world to choose from, my friend. And I don't even need you to choose wisely.