American TV has gone downhill during the past 20 years. Like radio, they are all owned by a few big companies that put crap on TV.
I can remember TV in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. Not that it was always great then, but they used to have a wide variety of programming on just three networks. You had the soaps, for sure--but if you tuned to NBC during the late 1960s and early 1970s, you could get some really great quiz shows on. Those seem to have disappeared--The Price is Right is left, but that doesn't last from 9:30 until mid afternoon.
During the evening, you had a nice variety of shows. Starting with mid-afternoon, you would often see reruns of Batman and Superman, the ABC After School Specials, and other nice shows. Evenings would have a variety of shows: The Brady Bunch, Nanny and the Professor, The Partridge Family, MASH, and many others dotted through the 1970s. You also had a nice variety of specials you are not going to see now: Almost Anything Goes, The Body Human, and other various specials came along at random intervals. During the 1980s, you started seeing more crime dramas and fewer quiz shows.
But, it isn't until the late 1990s that TV has really gone down the toilet. Network TV is full of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire and reality shows. You do not see the variety of science and story specials you once had. It is all about a group of people living in isolation, and they could get voted off the show--what kind of crap is that? Cable is a little better: at least they have real science channels and story shows.
And lots and lots of ads. Even the ads have gone down the toilet. I can remember the 1970s and 1980s, when the commercials were entertaining. There was the Juicy Fruit ad where they picked gum off the tree. Double mint was so double good (around 1873). "You got a lot to live, and Pepsi's got a lot to give" (early 1970s). "Just when you thought your wash was clean--GERMS! (Lysol laundry sanitizer, 1985). "Where's the Beef?" (Wendy's, 1984) "Open up the top, and let the sunshine out" (Orange Spot, 1977). Now, it is all auto insurance and prescrption drug sxxx. Who wants to listen to Matthew Lesko yelling about his free government money? I would rather listen to the three little pigs in their house of straw making fun of the big bad wolf when he huffs, and he puffs, and he coughs because he has been smoking.