Wednesday, January 26, 2011

What Happened to the History Channel?

While the main focus of this blog is the history of Dickinson County, Kansas, I plan to focus on topics outside of the county.  So in the future, you can expect to occasionally see posts on Kansas history, US history, World history, and more.  No subject will be off limits.  To do this will be a bit more freeing for myself, and may expand interest and readership.  For this post, I would like to discuss the state of the History Channel.

In addition to my interest in history, I am an avid television watcher.  I watch all kinds of programs: sitcoms, dramas, news, documentaries, etc.  Being a history nerd though, I watch the History Channel fairly often.

Many people used to affectionately (or maybe not so affectionately) refer to the History Channel as the “Hitler Channel.”  Of course, this was because the channel mostly featured programs about World War II.  Nowadays, the History Channel does not have to worry about being called this, as a number of changes have been made in their programming lineup.

My main concern with the History Channel is that it does not feature enough programs about history.  Let’s take a quick look at the channel’s list of programs.  A full list can be found here.  What I would consider to be the History Channel’s biggest shows are: American Pickers, Pawn Stars, and Ice Road Truckers.  All of these are fine reality shows in their own right, but are they about history?  I suppose you could call American Pickers and Pawn Stars history programs since you learn a little bit about the history of many of the objects that are encountered in each show, but these moments are few and far between one another.  The channel has a number of other reality shows such as Top Gear, Top Shot, and Ax Men.  Like the previous shows mentioned, most of the History Channel’s reality shows have a loose connection to history.
American Pickers
Let’s move on to another type of show that the History Channel has a lot of these days, conspiracy theorist programs.  It seems like every time I turn to the History Channel, it is either a show about aliens or the apocalypse.  I understand the interest in these shows.  It is fun to think about aliens building the pyramids, or someone thousands of years ago predicting the end of days.  But there is not enough historical evidence to these types of claims.  But you never know, maybe in a year or so I’ll be exclaiming, “Nostradamus was right!” if the world comes to an end.  Until then, I will still be baffled as to why the History Channel has to have so many of these types of shows.

Even though I do have some complaints about the state of the History Channel, I do still enjoy tuning in.  I really enjoy American Pickers, even though I think it should probably be on a different station.  The History Channel does continue to air a fair amount of historical shows like America: The Story of Us and WWII in HD.  Nevertheless, it would be nice if the folks in charge of the History Channel made more of an effort to get young people interested history by creating more new shows entirely dedicated to history.  I want to see a show that lives up to the History Channel name.  But who knows?  Maybe Only in America with Larry the Cable Guy (premiering February 8) will be that show.  I’m not counting on it though.
Will this man save the History Channel in my eyes?  Probably not.

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