Friday, November 27, 2015

#21: After Creation: genre television of the 2010's

Months ago, I wanted to compare True Detective and Penny Dreadful, single-author shows that draw inspiration from 19th-century pulp literature. For the first season of True Detective, Nic Pizzolatto borrows from the "Yellow Mythos" that arose from Robert Chambers' 1895 story collection The King in Yellow, along with elements from later cosmic horror themes in the works of authors like Thomas Ligotti. For Penny Dreadful, John Logan includes characters from the eponymous serials and other classic horror at home in that time. True Detective and Penny Dreadful take alternate approaches: the former is a "prestige" show, atmospheric but grounded in a decades-reaching mystery/procedural; the latter more extreme and explicitly supernatural. In the evocative, alternately "gothic" settings of backwoods Louisiana and Victorian London, souls and systems have been corrupted for generations, dragging people to violence upon stages and altars.

picture source

picture source

As the post comparing the two shows remained incomplete, I noticed similar themes appear in other other genre (or "genre-leaning") television. In Penny Dreadful, True Detective's first season, Orphan BlackÄkta människor (Real Humans), Sky Atlantic's  Fortitude, as well as the shows covered in this previous post (Utopia, Les revenants, and the first season of Hannibal); characters ponder the circumstances of their own existence. At what point did things turn wrong? How much of it is due to themselves, their upbringing, or current surroundings? Were they doomed at creation?

(spoilers under the cut)