By: Lindi Mugwara
Prime examples of this are shows like “Game of Thrones” and “The Walking Dead”; both shows have rabid fan bases, and cult followings. Both are based on pre-existing material: A Song of Ice and Fire book series by George R.R Martin and The Walking Dead comic book series by Robert Kirkman. The shows have been on air for 7 and 8 seasons, respectively. The fact that both shows have still managed to attract as much traction and hype as they have, after being on our television screens for all these years goes to show that the character arcs are developed and fleshed out more. Instead of solely focusing on the protagonist or lead characters, series have the ability to explore a myriad of characters, particularly in these types of shows that have a ton of characters. These shows are character driven which is why they have had longevity. “Breaking Bad” broke the mold of television with the outlandish, original storyline of a cancer stricken chemistry teacher turned drug kingpin. The show had a slow burn but I don’t think would have done well as a feature since it built up momentum with each season. The same can be said for the other shows mentioned already. They may not have hit all the heights to begin with but the build up and the variety of back-stories allowed them to do so eventually.
She described it as being a 7-hour movie. True Detective was also considered a super sized movie. Television has expanded the boundaries of cinematic expression. I recently binged watched “The Handmaid’s Tale”. The show can be considered as one of the epitomes of a master class in filmmaking. The beautifully crafted shots and cinematography juxtaposed with the harrowing tale of a totalitarian government called Gilead, which replaces what, was formerly the United States of America. One of the laws, among many, that is put into place, forcibly makes fertile woman bare children for the government officials, on behalf of their barren wives as a result of the rapidly decreasing birth rates. Essentially women rights are stripped away. If you rebel, you die. The show is timely, given the current political climate that is happening in the United States. We inhabit this world through the main character, offered, and played by Elisabeth Moss (Mad Men). The long form format allows audiences to explore the characters and with the given material, serve the narrative appropriately. The handmaid’s tale is also based on a best selling novel of the same name, by Canadian author Margret Atwood.
Another show that has been heaped with critical and commercial praise is “Atlanta”, which centers on a rapper trying to make it big in the music scene in Atlanta, a semi-autobiographical story about Donald Glover, star and creator, aka Childish Gambino. This is a show that we have, quite simply not seen before. The show has really stretched the bounds of comedy, from the writing to the directing. There are moments it doesn’t feel like a comedy; it’s more like an amalgamation of comedy and drama. The color grading and blocking; gives it a very distinctive look.
Television has really evolved over the years and there has been a paradigm shift in the television industry. An exciting time it is indeed for television.