There are many great shows being produced now and others that people love, I believe more because they begin well enough and then become one of those shows you must love to be cool. A case in point for me is Orange is the New Black. The first season developed fantastic nuanced multi dimension characters and placed them in a cohesive interesting set of storylines. Then came the second season when the show meandered and characters were dumbed down to one dimension. But the cat was already out of the bag so to speak. It was already one of the shows you “had to love”. Someone on the radio mentioned once that many original ideas or stories are written for a specific timeframe and then when they become a thing, the scramble is on to keep it going. As hard as it is sometimes, I would like a show to say what it needs to and then bow out.
Another example is Stranger Things, fantastic “first” season. Well-drawn out characters, well portrayed, and a fun throw-back storyline that is familiar but so well done it doesn’t matter. That is the key, a story, simply told well. To me, the season told what it needed to and there is nothing more to say. I will tune in to the second season initially to see where it goes, but other than the one scene where Will goes Alien on us, the story has been told. The End.
Some shows have all the “elements”, but without a compelling and structured story, what is the point? I was so excited for Vinyl. What could go wrong? Great cast, interesting period in music and Scorsese! Well, lack of a compelling story was my issue with this show. Sure, it has the text book Scorsese items, but those only work when integrated into a something that draws you in. Vinyl was more about “hey look at all this inside music stuff we can pack in.” Even with that, it would have been ok if the story was there.
One of the best recent examples of a simple story told well is Rectify, no frills, no mega-stars, no familiar soundtrack songs, no flashy camera gimmicks, no gratuitous violence needed (what draws many to Game of Thrones, but that’s for another post), just a simple story that completely draws you in, with complex multidimensional characters throughout. If you haven’t watched it, I would highly recommend it as the perfect example of a good story told well.