My first time at #ATXTVs8

Thirty years of television consumption paid off as I attended season 8 of the ATX TV Festival. Why it took me eight years to arrive — I’ll never know. But I never felt more a part of a distinct community before in my life.

I’m that guy among my immediate friends and family. You know the one? A proverbial water cooler with a major case of FOMO. If it was on last night, I either watched or followed it on Twitter. If it’s coming, I have it marked on my calendar. And if it isn’t, I know when it will be or if it died on arrival.

MOTHER: Susan Kelechi Watson (This Is Us) interviewed Phylicia Rashad as the festival’s TV Award recipient.

I forced my parents to record syndicated episodes of The Cosby Show as I was born in 1987 — three years after the groundbreaking sitcom’s premiere. I purchased and binged season one of Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD to catch up before the season two development. I did the same with NBC’s Hannibal and HBO’s recently departed Game of Thrones.

I subscribe to Netflix, Hulu with Showtime, HBO Now, Amazon Prime and CBS All Access – with a budget pending the addition of Disney+ come November 12. I am a personified television nerd. And the ATX TV Festival is my utopia.

Fellow television fans, stars, workers and creators descend upon downtown Austin to celebrate the transformative medium. And what a time to be alive as the peak television era has equipped viewers with more content from more creators than ever before. We just wish more time was included in the a la carte package.

For four days festival goers trek between West fifth and seventh streets to panel discussions, group activities and early screenings all about our favorite past time. Some panels revisited past cult classics (the early canceled Men in Trees), others touched on returning phenoms (Veronica Mars’ reboot arrives July 26th). Many delved into the industry makeup and how art should reflect life, and vice versa.

Cast and creator of City on a Hill appear to discuss the show after the series’ premiere at the festival.

For instance the ACLU hosted a panel on how shows accurately depict social (in)justice on TV. The panel was made of two creators from CBS’ The Red Line and one from Freeform’s Good Trouble. While I knew Red Line emphasized Chicago’s racial history with police brutality, I had no idea The Fosters spin-off captured a strong societal essence. It also reminded me how powerful this medium is in shaping and changing the way viewers see the people outside their windows.

Apart from panels they had exclusive screenings from upcoming series. I was able to attend four:

  • HBO’s Euphoria – Creator Sam Levnison uses his struggle with addiction to tell a harrowing story of teen life. Rue (Zendaya) is an addict searching for relief in a world where feelings have been cured with a pill. Witness her and her peers attempt to find hope when they feel nothing at all. (Premieres June 16 @ 10 p.m.)
  • AMC’s The Terror: Infamy – Set in 1940s America, we follow a Japanese-American family face the horror of racism as Pearl Harbor forces the U.S. to place their own citizens in internment camps. Alongside this real life horror, the series highlights an ancient evil who has followed them from the old country for an unpaid debt. (Debuts August 12)
  • OWN’s David Makes Man – From the pen of Tarrel Alvin McCraney (Moonlight), comes a unique coming-of-age tale centered on a dark skin boy in Florida. Based on McCraney’s own upbringing David is a gifted teen whose promising future is threatened by his tumultuous reality. (Debuts in August)
  • Showtime’s City on a Hill – Kevin Bacon and Aldis Hodge star in this gritty crime drama based in 1992 Boston. Wrought with corruption and racism, Bacon’s untouchable FBI agent and Hodge’s righteous district attorney join forces to solve a murder before the city explodes. (Debuts June 16 @ 9 p.m.)

It was a such a wonderful experience. Beautiful people in beautiful weather discussing their favorite thing. I plan on going for many years to come.

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