michelel72: (SGA-RodneySam-Reading)
michelel72 ([personal profile] michelel72) wrote2011-11-01 10:25 pm

New TV: Stories about the stories we tell

Is anybody watching the new US television shows "American Horror Story" (FX), "Once upon a Time" (ABC), or "Grimm" (NBC)? (I don't know if they're available internationally yet.)

I may be too plebeian to appreciate "American Horror Story". I feel like the total square standing in front of the Art and whining, "But I don't get it." [personal profile] violetcheetah seems to be getting a lot more out of it than I am, at any rate. Oh, I'll stick with it through this week at least; the next episode is written by Minear, and in theory at least some movement-in-direction-of-answers is promised.

It's densely packed with visual motifs ... that I keep missing and only learn about in reading later recaps. It's richly steeped in homages to dozens of American horror tropes/themes/images ... many of which I don't know. And, probably most of all for me, I don't like these people. The male lead is a self-righteous, responsibility-avoiding nozzle who tries to justify cheating on his wife with one of his students. He's one of those insufferable archetypes who is presented as "too weak" to resist the "seduction" of all these "forward" women. He uses his psychiatric training to manipulate his wife into being at fault (though at least she calls him on that), but he otherwise seems to be a pretty crappy psychiatrist. The female lead is less objectionable, but then, she's playing a martyr; I don't dislike her, and she's had several moments of taking the smart action in various situations, but that's not really enough to make me especially pull for her ... especially when one of her goals is repairing her marriage to the nozzle. Their daughter is a cookie-cutter rebellious teen for the most part (and even though I know it's petty, the smoking puts me off). The neighbors certainly aren't people I'm rooting for, and neither are Moira nor Tate.

Yes, yes, yes, these are all realistic character portrayals and elements ... but I don't want to watch those kind of people. If I'm going to invest my time and interest in something, I as a media consumer want to connect with a character. It's how I consume narratives. And so far this show isn't remotely something I can do that with ... and they're not paying out explanations regularly enough for that to compensate.

So I dunno. I'll stick around for one or two more, but I may bail, because I don't care.

I found "Once upon a Time" more enjoyable, but it's also not really got a particular direction — but then again, it's only had two episodes. I'm worried about the likelihood that Emma will discover that she's meant to be a mommy after all!!!, barf; I'm wearily resigned to the probability that we'll get a couple of bog-standard fairy-tale het romances as focal points; and I'm concerned that the primary antagonist, at least so far, is a woman who is evil because, well, she's evil. (Or, alternately, because That Bitch Ruined My Het Love So I Will Bring Her Down If It's The Last Thing I Do.) All of that said, though, I'm at least more interested in seeing where the characters are going. I like that Emma's giving up a baby for adoption when she was 18 has, so far, been portrayed remarkably sympathetically for modern US television. [personal profile] violetcheetah points out there's even a chance that Regina/Evil Queen will get a redemption arc or heel/face turn; that would be excellent.

(Or, to put it in more sophisticated terms, [personal profile] violetcheetah observes that "actually, one of my hopes for OUAT is that they will get to the story of why evil witch was evil, and give her some humanity in her subconscious desire for a child that brings her from antagonist to realizing she's a pawn in her own curse and trying to help break it. like, when emma asks if she loves him and she says she does, i believed that. so if that's true, the story could be largely about her character arc to reluctant hero, a la spike or something, and that could be fun.")

You know what else I'm liking? Women in primary roles. Emma is the lead; she's battling Regina. (Upside, a Latina in a primary role! Downside, the Latina is the evil character ... so far.) Snow starts out assertive and confrontational, and even in her present state, she's slyly determined. The primary male early on is a kid (though "Mr. Gold" will obviously become more prominent); the Sheriff is pretty clearly secondary.

And that makes me much less interested in Grimm, which would seem to have a vaguely related thematic set. I look at the Wikipedia page, and what do I see? Main guy, partner guy, bad-guy-turned-good(ish) guy, police captain guy ... and main guy's girlfriend. I mean, seriously, that seems to be her role: Girlfriend. They couldn't spring for one woman in a primary role that was anything more substantial than "main guy's girlfriend"?

I've got nothing against guys — I mean, seriously, my fanfic identification character is Rodney McKay. I'm used to stories being About Guys. But this is 2011; we can do better than this. Can't we?

So I may watch the first ep on OnDemand; I may watch the second episode. But unless it has something magical to redeem the sausage-fest, that'll be it for me.

"Anyway, I'm sorry, but that just happens to be how I feel about it. What do you think?"