From Amazon's Jack Ryan to Matthew Weiner's "expensive mediocrity" The Romanoffs, "2018 was the year when big money became a kind of new normal on television," says Darren Franich. There was a time not long ago when TV was made cheap, "Hollywood cheap," when there was a clear distinction between movie money and TV money, says Franich. Not anymore. As his EW colleague Kristen Baldwin notes: "Not only is there more television than ever before, the television itself is more everything than ever — the episodes are longer, the budgets are bigger, the concepts are higher, the star wattage is brighter, the language is bluer. Bigger isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but bigger with no boundaries is. With countless networks and streaming platforms pumping out more and more content for our overtaxed eyeballs, it seems the industry’s latest strategy for breaking through the 'clutter' is a) throwing money at a recognizable name, and b) getting out of the way." Sure, some expensive series -- like Homecoming and and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel -- work, but there are too many shows that seem to be given blank checks to spend as much as possible, like Sacha Baron Cohen's Who Is America?, The Romanoffs and Apple’s entire original programming philosophy. Blank Check TV also extends to the TV show trend of "Unnecessary Helicopter" shots, which Franich calls the "single totem for the style of Blank Check television." Netflix, adds Baldwin, "continues to be a prime offender in this space, whether they’re leafblowing money at comedians to make late-night shows they’ll immediately cancel, or boring us to tears with the big-budget bombast of Lost in Space."