From the Archive: This Medium, Well Done, Is Rare

Back in 1961, when America’s top TV shows were Wagon Train, Bonanza, and Gunsmoke, television critic Harriet Van Horne couldn’t imagine how television could get any worse.

No poker face here: The expressions of Harriet Van Horne (second row, right) and fellow critics at a preview of a new TV show may give away their sour opinions of it.

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From the June 3, 1961, issue of The Saturday Evening Post.

It’s utterly appalling that people waste so much time on the trash and trivia the networks throw at them,” Miss Van Horne fumes. “I’m convinced the audience for Westerns, situation comedies, and private eyes checks its brains at the door and sits through the dreadful junk in a stupor. With the exception of a few cultural and public-affairs shows on Sunday afternoon — called the ‘intellectual ghetto’ in the trade — there aren’t five hours of programing a week worth watching.”

—“TV Makes Her Tired”

by Stanley Frank

This article is featured in the May/June 2023 issue of The Saturday Evening Post. Subscribe to the magazine for more art, inspiring stories, fiction, humor, and features from our archives.

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