Lovin’ the Haters
Nothing can set off a firestorm of debate and ire like a good old televised picture show. Who knew the lives of a bunch of twenty something girls living in Brooklyn could be so polarizing or the supposed messing with a classic could milk so much venom. It is just TV; it’s not like we’re talking about Shakespeare after all. …..But we could be.
God’s bodkins, sometimes you have to be cruel to be kind and the audience doth protest too much, methinks. (OK I’ll stop that) Here’s a thought; perhaps Girls‘ Hannah is channeling Hamlet: she is in a state of arrested development, paralyzed by a job to do, ostracizing her friends and family and slowly descending into madness. I don’t necessarily think she needs to kill her uncle, but who knows where Season 3 will take us. Cue the pitchforks and the flaming torches. How could you compare Lena Dunham to William Shakespeare? Umm.. well I didn’t, I compared the character of Hannah to the character of Hamlet. I think this is where TV watching has completely gone off the rails. Judging by the sheer amount of words on the internet and in print devoted to picking apart, over analyzing and criticizing our so called entertainment, we as an audience need to take a collective deep breath.
HBO’s Girls just ended its second season to another wave of critical bile from all corners of the internet. It seems that people really take this show personally. People are watching the show or in a lot of the cases not watching the show and then comparing it directly to their own lives. The criticisms range from hailing from a different part of the country/world -so this world seems too alien to me or the characters are too flawed. Ahh and that’s the rub, (I’m sorry I can’t help myself) the characters are deeply flawed, but that’s what makes them interesting. One minute you like them and the next minute you hate them, kinda like real people. This is why we still study Shakespeare today; his characters aren’t pancake. Do we like Hamlet? If he was a real person would we friend him on Facebook? Probably not, but we would most definitely follow him on Twitter- his tweets would be fantastic. When dealing with three dimensional characters you can’t argue in absolutes. It feels like this is how a large portion of people are taking their television. “I hate Adam” or “I’m absolutely not going to watch this show again” are common sentiments. These are completely legitimate opinions and actions but why has this turned into such a personal affront. It is one person’s vision and that’s all. Sure, Girls got a little dark ..so what if it doesn’t always want to be your lap dog? It will also make you laugh, cringe and thank god you are no longer in your twenties.
On A&E’s Bates Motel a young Norman Bates hasn’t even reached his twenties yet. The show is a re-imagining of a prequel to Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho.
Cue the pitchforks and the flaming torches,(slightly hyperbolic – the reviews are in and most people are kinda cool with it)- how can you mess with a classic? I’m afraid that ship has sailed: Psycho 4 anyone? The original Hitchcock film is an undisputed masterpiece and one of my favourite films of all time. Having said that; I’m not offended but rather curious to see how they will handle the subject matter. After viewing the pilot I was left with two impressions: great aesthetic but very thin on the suspense. I don’t mind that they set it in modern times but kept the look of the original. It seems although some Psycho purists don’t appreciate the tinkering.
Directors have been messing with the classics for eons. Shakespeare has been re-framed and reinterpreted more times than a James Brown sample. Oberon becomes the king of the hippies, the historical background of Macbeth starts to resemble the Russian Revolution and so on and on. Oberon may have changed jobs but Bottom will always remain an ass. Did Jar Jar Binks ruin Star Wars? No; Luke still blew up the Death-Star and we all cheered but Mr. Binks did make The Phantom Menace a less enjoyable watching experience. Although they are in the same universe, your opinion of one shouldn’t affect your appreciation of the other. So Bates Motel shouldn’t automatically be hated because you loved the original. Obviously, it has extremely large shoes to fill and will inevitably fail to do so. ( At this very moment, the director Sam Raimi is in the curious position of being on both sides of this coin. He had the unenviable task of tackling one of the most beloved films of all time as well as someone else is reinterpreting his beloved horror classic.)
I don’t believe Bates Motel will become a horror classic but it might have a few surprises up its sleeve. I’ll give it a few more episodes before I make my verdict. When it comes to television shows: watch them or don’t watch them, like them or don’t like them, but please just don’t use them to feel self important and spew hate. Just change the channel.