The Evolution of TV Title Sequences

Title sequences for television shows have gone from slapdash edits to elaborate artistic statements. This video from Wired digs into that evolution a bit. It gives due to the famous credit sequence for “True Detective,” which deservedly earned wide praise for its artistry. What it doesn’t really touch on, though, is how this increasingly ornate trend mirrors the pomposity of so-called “prestige television.”

Most television creators have come to think of their show’s title credits as being analogous to movie credits, but even those have in recent decades become relegated to the end of a film’s running time. They no longer confront viewers at the beginning of a filmed work, and they certainly don’t do so repeatedly over the course of ten or twenty installments and for increasingly longer running times, as television titles have done, according the Wired video.

In reality, having an overproduced title sequence is more like having a cover and front matter in front of every chapter in a book, which is to say repetitive and unnecessary. These things which were once simple and unassuming have gotten overinflated and out of hand. In fact “True Detective” is a prime example. Like its title sequence, the show itself was inherently preoccupied with its own artistry which, in my opinion, was not particularly justified. Both the opening titles and the series could have been reduced to a fraction of their running times, which, come to think of it, I’ve found to be true of most prestige TV shows today.