If you haven’t noticed the trend of the new popular television series genre, that’s because it’s had a slow saunter to your television box. I’m talking about the reemergence of dark and disturbing stories being told as of recent in shows such as The Following or True Detective.
The Following is a series with Kevin Bacon, as a former FBI agent and analyst of serial killers, who faces off against a lustful serial killer and gives homage to Edgar Allen Poe, played by James Purefoy. This leads me to think that maybe the morbidity of CSI-styled crime dramas, or the gore and heartbreak of The Walking Dead is not enough for people anymore.
It’s true that over time television can desensitize you to things. Perhaps this is the cause of society’s new-found affection for death and murder on an entirely new scale. Now, when I say entirely new, I don’t mean to exclude any precursor to this genre of television, especially with the prominent series Dexter still fresh in many people’s minds. But, The Following and True Detective seem to be slightly different.
Dexter is about a sociopath serial killer who murders bad people, played by Michael C. Hall. The Following looks at both sides of the story and focuses especially on the insatiable need for murder that Purefoy’s character desires. While on True Detective you follow two detectives, Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson, who come across a serial killer’s victim in the deep south of the US that gives you a knot in your stomach. The knot is not from any extremely gory or disgusting images, but rather it is in the details of the description McConaughey paints of what the serial killer might be like and how the two characters both have their own “devils.”
Series such as these seem to become more commonplace due to our society slowly evolving to a point where we’re more relaxed around the discussion of death. Specifically, we have become so complacent with images of gratuitous violence and graphic images that the only thing left for television writers is the psychological aspect. It seems that the direction writers now lure you is no longer with the suspense of a thriller crime drama series, but one that shows the darker macabre side of murder, death and violence.
It almost seems as if they are trying to strip every bit of fluff that normal crime dramas have in the way of romance between a few characters, gunfights and getting the bad guy at the end of it. Instead of this, they portray what is left, and what is left is not society’s yearning for justice, but gritty, edgy, chilling television. And it must be working because The Following is back for another season and True Detective has a 9.4 rating on imdb.com and an 88 per cent review on rottentomatoes.com.