Sunday, June 22, 2014

Oh The Pain

Earlier this year, Emily Nussbaum of The New Yorker had trouble with the miniseries True Detective.  Almost everyone else thought it was great, but not her. (We'll soon know what the Emmys think.) Now Nussbaum has trouble with another policier, Fargo.

Vaguely based on the Coen Brothers film (they're producers on the show), the miniseries has the same Minnesota setting and is about criminals and detectives, often echoing lines, situations and characters from the original.  It's longer and serialized, of course, and most critics seem to think creator Noah Hawley did a fine job making it work in the new format.  Including me--the show was surprisingly smart and funny, and darker than expected.  It had its flaws, but so did the movie (in fact, it's the movie I think overrated.)

I won't go into Nussbaum's analysis--I think she misses the point (of both the TV show and the movie)--but let's look at her introduction:

...Maybe I’m burned out on bloodbaths. But “Fargo,” FX’s adaptation of the great film by the Coen brothers, created and written by Noah Hawley, left me feeling a thousand miles away, despite its strong cast and shrewd beauty. It also raised a question that’s become a cable-drama default: How good does a violent drama need to be to make the pain of watching worth it?

"Pain" to watch such a show?  There's plenty of bad TV out there, so when something fairly original and intelligent comes along, I don't find it painful. The subject matter barely enters into it, and certainly crime drama has its place as much as any other genre.  Perhaps Nussbaum should quit her job if she finds it so unpleasant.

3 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is a lot of gruesome violence out there in quality TV land and it does seem to be taken as normal.

1:58 PM, June 22, 2014  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is a lot of gruesome violence out there in quality TV land and it does seem to be taken as normal.

1:58 PM, June 22, 2014  
Blogger LAGuy said...

There's a long history of depictions of violence in entertainment, from the ancient Greek theatre to Shakespeare to today. There's also a long (if shorter) history of detective and cop stories in movies and TV. If it bothers you, maybe someone else should do your reviewing for you.

8:28 PM, June 22, 2014  

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