Big Secrets, Small Towns is not the only new genre in our TVs. Other fictions such as The Affair, Caprica, Heroes or The Leftovers are part of a different group: disappointing and boring shows that work better as an object of study than as a series.
Let’s start with one of the latest I’ve watched: Caprica. When somebody tries to sell you this show they talk about the origin of the cylons, virtual reality and extremist religious groups but when you actually watch it you find out that is just a bad soap opera with some cool sci-fi moments and one great actress: Paula Malcomson.
But everything changes when you have to write about it: it’s all about the consequences of digital technology in our daily life, how the boundaries of the human being are redefined by technology, the interdependence of reality and virtual worlds. You can even quote the good old Baudrillard and his simulacrum!
Heroes- aka the show that only our co-writer J. could finished- usually appears in many university essays about TV and the postmodern world. The interconnections of its characters reflect our overconnected world with Facebook as an example; the conspiracies and the end of the world issue are a clear post S-11 symptom, etc. Together with Utopia, they were series with too much success (and one too many seasons) and very few ideas, that jumped the shark way too early. Let them rest in peace.
The Affair is television’s Boyhood: a totally overrated an unimaginative product (good actresses though). Let’s say it in just a sentence: Rashomon did it all, did it before and did it way better. Instead of twisting the structure of Rashomon using the possibilities of TV shows, The Affair only repeats the same he says – she says again and again in each episodes, and, in a crazy moment of inspiration, they copy the interview scenes in a future time from True Detective (but without Rust).
Unfortunately, critics love it: so subtle (when they should say childish), well acted (am I the only one who was about to skipped the good-white-American-man parts?) and edgy, an example of what TV shows are capable of, a symbol of the temporal fragmentation in our capitalist eternal present, blah blah blah. I suppose they haven’t watched The Comeback…
And finally a show with 2? good episodes, and a gorgeous ending that nobody expect: The Leftovers. This show is full of lost dogs, Justin Theroux’s bulge, mysterious National Geographic magazines, disappearing T-shirts, hundreds of notebooks and people with targets in their foreheads. But the loss, oh the loss! the post-S11 vacuum, a purposeless society, and again Baudrillard and his simulacrum (just make a show about the book!). Writing about The Leftovers is a pleasure, but probably the research originated from the show is much more intelligent than its actual script.
Not every show can be Mad Men: a perfect example that mixes entertainment and intellectual references that makes us think about our society but also make us laugh and cry (and those dresses…).
If you don’t believe me then believe Valerie, because after a long day of work…
The Homecoming Queen