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The Following (tv show) review – no spoilers

I’ve got mixed feelings about this show.

On the one hand, it’s really, really well done. The acting is great, the writing is great, the action is great, everything about this show is right on the money. There are characters I love and characters I want to die and characters that make me go, “oooh… evil!” which is a lot of fun.

I’m pretty much a sucker for both anti-heroes and regular heroes and this show has both. Plus the ever adorable padawan role and the strong female character always makes me very happy. (Although I’m biting my tongue about the stereotypical endings for the female and gay characters)

So what’s my problem, you ask? Well… it’s a show about serial killers. Yes, I know, it’s about good vs. evil and the serial killers are the evil bit, but the amount of cold blooded violence in every single episode is so… well, violent. And for me to say that, you know there’s something there. I love action. I love evil getting its ass kicked and I love the black and white nature of justice that tv can give us as a whole.

Now, The Following is hardly the first show to be about serial killers. Criminal Minds (both series) pops up right away and that’s been on forever with me having no problem with it. Plus we’ve got tons of other shows with the violence of ‘regular’ murders.

So why do I single out The Following? Because it seems to be giving the killers themselves a voice. Not just in Joe Carroll, the lead, but all his followers who are just as gleeful in their murders. It’s how the writers make them just sympathetic enough that we don’t all change the channel. We see their backstories and why they kill, whether because they’re flat out crazy and like it, or they were abused as a kid, we get explanations which makes it seem logical that sure, of course they’d become killers. (It’s the reason I haven’t watched Hannibal, even though I’ve heard good things about that show, too. Though I’ll probably break down and watch it at some point)

I dunno. It’s not like I’ve got any real moral ground considering the number of characters I’ve killed and maimed in my novels and scripts. And I am actually outlining a feature right now with a straight up killer in it, too. But then… that’ll be Rated R and out for a couple of months as opposed to broadcast into homes worldwide every week for possibly years (depending on ratings) where any kid of any age can watch it.

And I think that’s what bothers me the most about this show; that kids could come across it and watch it and think it’s normal. I can handle the violence and separate it out from real life because I’m an adult. I can enjoy and shout at the tv, “Die!” because I know it isn’t real. And there’s the flip side to every argument about television being a cesspool of violence for children no matter what show you talk about. *sigh* I love television and I can’t wait to write for it and play in other writers’ sandboxes and get my own ideas up on the ‘small screen,’ but sometimes I think… just because we can do it, doesn’t mean we should. 

/soapbox

So back to the show itself: I do recommend it for adults. Like I said, it’s a very well put together show and rooting for the good guys and wondering who’s going to live or die each week is a lot of fun. But for kids of any age? Not a chance. Lock up the remote.

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About Nancy M. Griffis

Author and screenwriter who loves scifi/action/adventure/urban fantasy genres. I have two published novels, Mind Games and Eternal Investigations, as well as a short story published for charity called "Home Fires Burning." All are available through amazon.com and barnesandnobles.com.

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Nancy at the Tim Burton exhibit in L.A.

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