Back to confessional mode. My wife and I have been watching various thriller TV Series. So many I can’t remember them all, but off the top of my head— Broachchurch; Shetland; Endeavor; Unforgiven; Family Business; Deadwind; The Bridge. Here’s what I like about them:
1) The way the plot sweeps you into another world, slowly reveals a mystery to be solved with intricate turns and twists in the story that keep you guessing and certainly captures your attention.
2) The characters of the various detectives and their inter-relationships, their intelligence and dedication and courage to get the bad guys (and gals).
3) The continuity between the 8 to 10 Episodes, like a Dickens serial of old, providing a thread between the days, the anticipation of picking up the story where it left off, the comfort of spending time again with characters (detectives) you’ve grown to like.
4) The battle between the wits of the detectives and the cleverness of the murderers.
5) The fairy-tale satisfaction that in the end the evil ones get their just desserts.
All well and good. But particularly in the last series, “The Bridge,” I began to feel that I was hooked into a toxic drip hurting my heart and depleting my soul. These shows are very well done and some just a bit too graphic and you begin to feel the accumulated impact of murder after murder after murder and start to get drawn into the mindscape of the evil, psychopathic murderer using all of his/her intelligence to harm and hurt and maim and torture and kill other human beings. Is this really how I want to spend my evenings?
And then there’s the constant presence of guns, guns, guns. Pointed at people’s heads, threatening, actually shooting. Noticing how I began to love and crave guns, but only in the hands of the good guys and gals. As if going somewhere without a gun was like us going out without our phone and me shouting, “Get your gun!!” And then all the deserted buildings and scene after scene of entering them with the ominous music playing. I’ve never shot a gun, hung around people with guns, been out in the world walking by people (that I know of) carrying guns, but show after show normalizes it as just par for the course. Which I imagine has something to do with their epidemic presence in our culture.
Of course, there have been other shows. I LOVED Lupin because it had all the drama of good vs. evil minus actually killing. (But so far, just one season—too short!). Only Murders in the Building had a comedic lightness of touch that is more palatable. Seaside Hotel was a sheer delight, with a human-size sense of drama, only a couple of deaths, a few guns in the hands of occupying Nazis and enough intriguing deceit to keep things interesting.
If we are what we read, what we listen to, what we think about, we also become a bit of what we watch and I’m thinking it’s time for a change of diet. Any suggestions?