For the most part--with some exceptions--I think he's right. But the exceptions are important, and worth remembering. It's true that the Golden Age of Television was mostly Milton Berle and low-budget westerns and mysteries. But it was also Ernie Kovacs, An Evening With Fred Astaire, Noel Coward and Mary Martin, Your Show of Shows, my beloved What's My Line?, The Sound of Jazz, New York City Ballet's Nutcracker on Playhouse 90, Leonard Bernstein's Young People's Concerts, and Toscanini and the NBC Symphony--not every night, but often enough.
And he's right. (Pericles' Golden Age wasn't exactly golden either.) If you pick up any edition of TV Guide from the 50s and 60s, you'll see plenty of stuff that doesn't exactly make the highlight reel. But the point, I think, is not whether everything in the Golden Age was golden - it's to ask whether or not we're even capable of producing something that approximates the best the Golden Age had to offer.
Teachout concludes: "What we do have is an unprecedentedly candid style of TV comedy and drama that reflects the brutal knowingness of our postmodern age with startling, even alarming clarity. I like it. I'm not so sure I like what it tells us about ourselves."
I don’t share Teachout’s enthusiasm about most of today’s shows, by and large. (Although some might question the value of that statement, since I don’t watch most of them, either.) But as to Teachout's concluding thought, I’m in complete agreement. Do we even want to know what it tells us about ourselves? I wonder.