Last week for Dear Television at The Los Angeles Review of Books, we wrote about Horror TV from Alfred Hitchcock to American Horror Story: Coven. My post focused on Fox’s excellent new series Sleepy Hollow:
“Sleepy Hollow for its part seems content, for now, to revel in lightly toying with its generic forebears, but it certainly has the potential to engage in some wackadoodle critique of its own. It’s by no means as ambitious as American Horror Story in its cultural politics, but it both embodies and speaks back to the kind of revisionist-nostalgic obsession with American history that defines the current political moment. Indeed, a few episodes in, we see a flashback revealing that Ichabod Crane organized the Boston Tea Party as a diversion so that he could steal a supernatural MacGuffin that unleashes the forces of the underworld…or whatever. But the other thing we realize is that this is only the second most ridiculous, delusional, and fantastical appropriation of the Boston Tea Party American culture has produced recently. Sometimes the Hellmouth opens, and we fall right in.”
“Greetings from Hellmouth, U.S.A.”
This week at Dear Television, we focused on the current state of Fox’s Tuesday night sitcom block. I wrote about the way that a bunch of likable dudes are slowly de-centering the women who used to anchor these shows:
“Where the man-child is insecure in his masculinity, the good bro is secure; where the man-child is stunted in his development, the good bro is confidently developed; where the man-child is immature to the point of disability, the good bro is functional, even successful; and where the man-child is searching, the good bro operates based on a strict ethical code. What they both share, however, is the sincerity of which Lili speaks. The good bro, as opposed to the sleaze, holds nothing back. Masculine, friendly, sensitive to women, only rhetorically misogynist, possessed of a Str8 Bro-style obsession with homosexual desire, and, above all, committed to a kind of unfiltered truth-telling, the Good Bro is now the dominant feature of Fox’s Tuesday night.”
“The Good Bros of Fox”
Dear Television held a symposium on Netflix, or the Way We Watch Now, at The Los Angeles Review of Books this week. I wrote about re-watching TV series as a practice with its own joys, limitations, and even aesthetics. And I close with a long-overdue ode to re-watching NBC’s The Office.
“Streaming may have artificially limited the canon, it may have provided an apparatus that fully realizes TV’s potential as background music, but it’s also made more astute, attentive viewers of a larger swath of the viewing audience…They are aware of texture, in other words, the results of aesthetic decisions if not necessarily the mechanics of those decisions, and they are aware of it because their shows exist in infinitely watchable, infinitely re-watchable, infinitely controllable time.”
“Streaming Pam Beesly”
This week, Dear Television returns to The Los Angeles Review of Books to anchor its new blog! We’ll be covering a different show or topic every week, and it all starts off with Showtime’s new series Masters of Sex, about Masters and Johnson.
“What we’re being set up to see is an open-ended series about the toll that telling can take on a person, on a relationship, on a society. From Cheever to Chase and Weiner and Gilligan, there’s been a lot of lying on television for the last 15 years. What does it feel like to stop?”
Here’s my post, entitled, “Exposing Yourself on Television.”