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[personal profile] defrog
I didn’t watch True Detective, because I don’t have cable TV.

But most of my stateside friends did. I know this because my Facebook and Tumblr feeds were full of memes about it. Especially the finale. Something about the Yellow King. Many were displeased.

Anyway, I came across a related passage in this post (which is actually more about Mad Men, which I also don’t watch) that I think is worth sharing. Here it is:

The reason this is on our minds is because of the True Detective finale, which, if you go by the online reaction is The Worst Thing Ever (until the internet decides on the next W.T.E.) and that reaction seems to be largely born out of several weeks of extreme over-analyzing and theorizing, none of which came true because none of it was ever the point of the story. This isn’t to say the True Detective finale – and the series as a whole – is above criticism. There were plenty of flaws. But most of the complaining has centered around how it didn’t pay off the dozens of fan theories that sprouted up in online commentary. We’re reaching a point where we can’t let the shows we love breathe and tell their story anymore. Hundreds of thousands of online commenters want to finish the story before the writers do. Then they criticize the writers for not telling the story they imagined was going to be told.

I’ve seen this sort of thing before. I picked up on it around the time that George Lucas wrapped up the Star Wars prequels, in which fans complained that Lucas ruined the character of Darth Vader by making him all emo and stuff instead of the ruthless bad-ass they thought he was. (Patton Oswalt has covered that ground pretty well.)

Of course you’d expect that for something as old and canonical as Star Wars. (To say nothing of comic-book characters that have been around at least 40 years.) And it’s only natural that it should happen with TV shows that thrive on mystery and build up to the Big Reveal. We’ve seen it before (who shot JR, who killed Laura Palmer, are the people in Lost already dead, etc). So it’s not necessarily new – we’re probably just more aware of it thanks to the magic of social media.

That said, social media also takes fan scrutiny to all-new levels, at least to the point where you can reinforce the validity of yr own guesswork to the point that yr convinced you’ve nailed it – which can make the actual ending that much more infuriating.

Still, it’s hard to say if we’re “reaching a point where we can’t let the shows we love breathe and tell their story anymore”. There’s a fine line between criticizing a finale because it didn’t deliver the ending you wanted and criticizing it because, by any standard, it was a crap ending.

I’m not sure which would apply to True Detective, since I didn’t watch it. Digital Spy has a good defense of it here if yr interested (there are spoilers, so beware if you haven't seen the show yet but plan to).

Anyway, I find it odd that so many people would obsess over a show to the degree that they’ll write their own ending and then resent the writers for not giving them story they wanted to hear.

But then I’m pretty passive when it comes to storytelling in any medium. For a start, I’m too lazy to overanalyze and overintellectualize minor details like color schemes. “The sofa cushions are purple. IT’S A CLUE!” That’s the kind of thing English Lit teachers used to push on me to make “classic” literature look a lot deeper than the actual author intended, which took the actual fun out of reading them. The same applies to TV shows.

Also, as far as I’m concerned, if you wrote a story and you want to tell it to me, you get to tell it the way you want to tell it. That doesn't mean I don’t try to critique it, or guess where it’s going. That’s part of the fun. But at the end of the day, it’s your story. If you want to surprise me, go right ahead. I’d rather you did, actually. If it sucks, then it sucks because it sucks, not because you told me a story I wasn’t expecting. In fact, what fun is that?

I’m not sure if this makes me the rule or the exception. But I’m pretty sure I don’t care.

Case closed,

This is dF


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