HBO's Big Little Lies had its finale last night. The critics seemed to go for it, though I didn't think much of it. There was an impressive cast, and some decent acting, but I felt the pacing was poor, the domestic drama and a number of the characters were dull, the social satire was weak and the big action (featuring rape, adultery, spousal abuse and so on) was a bit too soap operish.
There was a hook that was supposed to get us into the show: in the first episode, we find out someone has been killed--but instead of a whodunit, it's a who done what. We don't find out who got killed or who did the killing until the final episode. I didn't find this clever, just annoying. (And let me note, without spoiling anything, that the finale involved a ridiculous coincidence and, dramatically, was an example of chickening out.)
liked the show and the finale. In her review, she reveals that she was in an abusive relationship and became a board member for a battered women's network. Then she notes:
If Big Little Lies inspires even one woman to [get out of an abusive relationship], it will already be more important than the average TV show.
I understand her point, but it depends on what "important" means. Critics can note the message of a show, but what they should care about (or what I care about when I read them) is the aesthetic side. It doesn't matter what the politics or message of something is. There are, for instance, thousands of films with the message that crime is bad--a worthwhile lesson that in itself doesn't make a movie worthy. What matters are how successfully a show entertains, or even enlightens--but through, say, shedding light on the human condition, not by making you take action. Ads (and propaganda) make you do specific things. Entertainment (and art) make you feel things.
When Fonzie got a library card, apparently thousands of kids across the nation got one, too. This is all to the good, but that wouldn't (by itself) make Happy Days more "important" than the average TV show.
Having a good message is easy. Even having an "important" one is easy. Creating something that's great entertainment, or true art--that's hard. And that's what makes a show important to me--as a show, I mean. Unless you're measuring shows as Public Service Announcements, which is a different standard entirely.