So the FOX-TV show with Kevin Bacon, “The Following,” came back a few weeks ago. My Sunday newspaper at the time declared: “Darker days: ‘The Following’ returns.” My immediate thought: Urgh. Is the article saying the show’s going to get even darker? Because that hardly seems necessary (or possible?). It doesn’t look too positive in all the promos.
No, I haven’t watched the show. I am not commenting on its merits because it’s impossible for me to do so. I just am not interested in watching it, given what I can glean about it in the dark and very creepy promos I see while watching other FOX shows.
And yes, I admit, I’m a mostly optimistic, pleasant person. I naturally gravitate toward the sunny and smiley. I LIKE happy endings. I like romantic comedies and chick flicks (although those are not exactly reality; they’re just fun and escapist). And while I don’t expect or want all my media to be shot through a rose-colored lens, I like to see real, imperfect, flawed characters in books and TV shows and movies learn and improve and become better people. I like to see real people I know find happiness and growth.
So given that information about me, it’s natural, I suppose, that I would not be heartily in favor of more dark, scary shows about evil people. Does that mean I should call for fewer of them? Should the viewers who have less sunny dispositions be limited in the dark media they enjoy? Not necessarily.
But I do question why so many shows focus on the dark and evil parts of society and human nature. I think it’s vital that we recognize there are some bad people out there and to be aware and safeguard ourselves. We can’t bury our heads in the sand, stay naive, trust everyone. But is it necessary to spend hours of our time essentially in the company of these kinds of people? Why would we want to wallow in that atmosphere?
So why can’t we have more media that portrays the light? I recently discovered a short-lived (of course) TV show from 2008-2009 called “Eli Stone” that was absolutely delightful. The characters aren’t perfect; they’re learning and do stupid things. But the tone of the show is positive, the characters generally seeking to do better, to be better. What’s even cooler is the show’s exploration of faith. It’s about a man who, in connection with a brain aneurysm, has visions that give him indications about the future and he then seeks out what he can do to make it better, to help other people. He (very) reluctantly sees himself as a kind of “prophet.” The show isn’t necessarily about God or any particular religion or faith system, but it does discuss the challenges of history’s prophets. And every episode considers how difficult it can be to just embrace faith and follow the promptings God sends, without being preachy or religious or cheesy. It’s thoughtful and real and honest. I come away from my viewings feeling hopeful and uplifted.
No, I don’t like the dark. It’s all too real and we’re constantly surrounded by it, in reality and in the media. Why can’t we support more that’s light?