Note: This piece is in response to Kyle Trembley’s “TV Doctor” column on ‘The Following’, in which he had plenty of not-nice things to say about the show.
by Guest Contributor Ariel Faraci (@ArielFaraci)
First and foremost, I really have enjoyed the web site We Love TV More thus far. It’s been live for only a few hours but I’m already immersed.
Having said that, I found one article particularly hard to swallow: Kyle Trembley’s piece on FOX’s The Following. Kyle’s style of writing isn’t my issue, he’s concise and accurate, well articulated. My problem is his incredible dislike of the show itself.
For me, ‘The Following’ was a complete and utter surprise. I did not expect to like this, let me be clear. I was as skeptical as you can get, and I’m maybe the biggest Kevin Bacon fan of all time. (No seriously, I even wrote a short story all about him in college that got me funny looks the rest of the semester from other students as well as our professor.) There are dozens if not hundreds of crime dramas on the 600 channels we now possess in The United States. Not one of them is different, edgy, or new. Until, shockingly, FOX’s ‘The Following’.
This show rocked my very being. It was so psychologically appalling to me as a female that it literally would take the breath away from me on a continuous basis. And the thing is, it’s not even all that gory. Sure there’s blood and guts here and there, but nothing compared to recent gore-a-thons like Spartacus and The Walking Dead.
I never expected a Fox crime procedural to twist at my soul. But it did, again and again. Because the things they do to women (and some men, poor Shawn Ashmore) are truly horrific. And, might I add, happening all the time in the real world. As a young girl and now a ‘woman’, I have, my entire life, been terrified of this exact show coming true. Of a man or men or even other women kidnapping, torturing, and murdering me. I think about it, and fear it, far more than I should. I cannot walk by myself without knowing in my heart that this is the moment I will be attacked. Literally. Every. Single. Time. I am alone.
This show makes my fears almost a reality. Forget some of the cheesy acting by silly Brits and over the top Kevin Bacons. Forget some of the ridiculous actions that the writers used for dramatic purposes, such as said Brit escaping custody by helicopter! Just focus on what happens to these victims. To the torture. And to the swift stabbings. The Oh So Many swift stabbings! How horrifying to know that these kinds of attacks are a real possibility in this day and age.
I’m shuttering just thinking about The Following again, I was hoping I didn’t have to for quite some time…
I have about ten more reasons why I was enamored by The Following, I don’t say “love” or even “like”, only enamored. Because I can’t tell if I did love or like the show, I just know while I was watching it, it changed me, terrified me, exploited me; hopefully only for a little while.
One last note – I love the Poe references, Kyle! Yes I’m a fan (My drunken alter ego’s name is Annabelle), but that’s not necessarily why. I love the non-cleverness (uncleverness? you get my drift) of the references because that’s how real cults behave. They find something to latch onto and they become obsessed, i.e. the Manson Family, or hell, even the extremist-religious and their corresponding ‘words of god’. They take every word literally and worship the ‘man/god’ who wrote it, even if they don’t truly understand the content or writer. Joe Carroll’s followers could memorize the poems, could tell you their shallow meaning, but they only used those words as an excuse to make their God, Joe, love them more. And as an excuse to commit terror upon the world. I don’t know if that’s what the writers of The Following were going for, naiveté in these followers, but that’s how I chose to interpret their use of my pal Edgar.