Here’s part 2 of the TV shows I finally kicked to the curb.
I really wanted to like Deception, not least because it has a surprisingly diverse cast. Alas, I am surfeited already with the subject matter by way of Revenge, which this feels like a dispirited copy of. The plot can be summed up as “rich people do bad things to each other and, eh, who cares.”
And speaking of Revenge…
This show was unexpectedly fabulous in its first season. I enjoyed every minute of Emily being capably devious and Nolan swanning around in his layered shirts and unabashed bisexuality. This season, they’ve managed to displace the best elements of the show. Instead of Nolan as Emily’s confidante, we get some new guy. Nolan and Emily had a great, weird, compelling chemistry, and it is sorely missed this season. And instead of Victoria as the main antagonist, we get the members of The Initiative, which is Revenge’s version of The Shadowy Conspiracy. See, Victoria’s transgressions were driven by emotion – love for Emily’s father, devotion to her son, and conflicted feelings about her daughter. The Initiative’s bad lady lacks emotion and personality both. She can’t hold a candle to Madeleine Stowe’s barely reigned-in craziness, and I just don’t care about her motives. My feeling in season one was that Revenge really should be a single-season, closed-arc show. Nothing I’ve seen so far this season has convinced me otherwise.
And a special, dishonorable mention goes to:
Want to elevate your primetime soap to “high concept” fare? Gotta have a Shadowy Conspiracy. Need to generate conflict? Insert a Shadowy Conspiracy. Not sure what your characters’ motivations are? A Shadowy Conspiracy will distract us from that too. I get that writing a TV show is hard work. Shadowy Conspiracy, when done right, gave us The X-Files and Lost. But compelling stories have to contain realistic conflict. I don’t mean the situations have to be realistic; but the emotions do. If you can’t make me care about the members of your Shadowy Conspiracy, then leave it out. And this is why I keep enjoying the hell out of Parenthood, week after week. I genuinely think it’s the best show on network TV right now, and better than plenty that’s on basic and premium cable too. And part of the reason is that families generate conlict consistently and reliably. It also doesn’t rely on a single romantic plot to carry all the narrative tension.