What I’m about to say will possibly destroy any art cred I’ve ever had, but my most favourite artistic medium is television! And I’m not talking about plots or character journeys or acting because there are thousands of much better writers who know how to analyse that stuff properly. When I watch TV it’s all about set design details and cinematography and a million other arty things all combined into one glorious experience, with the added challenge of keeping it both consistent AND fresh over many weeks and years. Of course the whole point of these things is to create atmosphere and remain in the background… which is precisely why I like talking about it.
In honour of Fall TV premiere week, here are five aesthetically interesting shows to watch this season:-
Scandal – Kerry Washington’s ridiculously beautiful face isn’t the only thing that will keep you glued to this show. Scandal has a very distinct way of framing their scenes- there’s a lot of filming through paneled glass (emphasizing both the confidentiality of their job and our role as observers), time lapse sequences and panning transition shots. They also use split screens that give an authenticity to real-time scenes, crimescene-style snapshot effects, and transparent computer screens when technological things are happening. And did I mention Kerry Washington’s face?
Once Upon A Time – I could go on and on about how they make the most of their beautiful woods setting, or subtle ways in which they differentiate between two characters played by the same actor, or the wonderful-for-network-tv quality of their special effects… however as a diehard Lost fangirl, my most fun part of Once is discovering all the Lost references they scatter through the show!
Suburgatory – Many current comedies use bright saturated colours to create a cartoonish vibe that makes it easy for the audience to digest all the quirky hilarious antics, but Suburgatory‘s agenda is more focused than most. Their colours are deliberately shiny and bordering on unnatural, allowing us to better empathise with how alienated our heroine (Tessa) feels in her new suburban environment. And by using colour to illustrate satire and caricature, it allows for subtler (aka better) writing.
Treme – God, this show. Treme redefines what television can be- not necessarily because of any unique camera techniques, but because the aesthetic IS the show. Details and emotional depth are rarely sacrificed for plot, and that in itself is a metaphorical plot (where plot represents progress in New Orleans). It’s a slow, slooooow burn that’s not for everyone. But even if Treme doesn’t click with you, it will have you questioning modern narrative styles and the potential of television.
American Horror Story – A million different horror homages all rolled into one show. Sometimes into one episode. It’s really awesome.