Rant: Bloggers Who Should Know Better

September 12, 2008 by  
Filed under Reviews

A few days ago there was a blog on the Guardian website titled ‘sick to death of sex and violence’ which called for HBO to ‘excercise restraint’ on its dramas.

Diane Shipley goes to town on such shows as Big Love, The Wire, Californication, Dexter and Weeds.

I have seen all of these shows, and mostly I have seen every episode of all of these shows. They involve a fair amount of sex and violence. They are also by far some of the most superbly written, acted and at times profound dramas to grace the U.S. telly network. And yeah, they are sometimes not easy to watch.

However I find it disturbing that anyone could compare Desperate Housewives and Weeds as Shipley does ‘I’d much rather watch ABC’s Desperate Housewives than weeds…both attempt to subvert the suburban experience but, lacking the constraints imposed by a network, Weeds always takes things too far…’

Yep, they do certainly subvert the suburban experience except that one of these shows is a well written, ethically challenging, thought provoking drama and the other is a soap opera. Guess which is which? It’s like saying Shameless should be more like Hollyoaks and I find it weird.

Sure, if you prefer DH there’s no problem with that. It’s a fun, trivial easy to watch show. But don’t call for HBO to stop challenging its audiences, stop pushing the envelope of social query that they do so well. The Wire is often described as one of the best, most realistic cop shows, if not TV shows, ever made. I would rather watch The Wire than Holby City any day. And I will take Weeds over DH a thousand days over.

“Although they all have great production values and occasionally feature a likeable character, they are for the most part low on charm and lacking in subtlety.” She says, referring to The Wire, Californication and Dexter. She then goes on to describe how she watched one episode of Weeds in which the main character “abruptly engaged in energetic sex on a kitchen counter. For no reason.” Actually, if she’d seen more than one episode then she would know this is not for no reason- Nancy Botwin is a character that is sexually reckless and often uses this sexuality to manipulate her way out of difficult situations. It is one of her key flaws.

If you prefer easy watching TV then that’s fine, but don’t try to pretend it is a flaw in the shows that is the problem. If you personally don’t like the violence or sexuality in them then don’t watch them, but please acknowledge that the difference between these shows and a soap is that these dramas actually examine society in all its messiness; its dark corners and hidden stories. What sex and violence is in them is used to this end.

Also, perhaps, watch more than an episode before dismissing them.