Tag Archives: The Walking Dead

Hiding Behind the Brand: How The Killing Threatens the Future of AMC

I haven’t seen the first season finale of AMC’s The Killing.

In fact, I haven’t seen the last five episodes of the show’s first season – I fell behind a few weeks ago, struggled to find the motivation to continue, and then traveled away from my DVR before I could get around to catching up.

Accordingly, this is not a piece about the emerging debate regarding the show’s first season finale, which has sharply divided the show’s viewers (and created some extremely strong reactions from some television critics, with Maureen Ryan’s being the most pointed). While it is quite possible that I will some day watch those final five episodes of the season, and that I will have an opinion regarding the show’s finale (which I’ve willfully spoiled for myself) at that time, this piece is not about the finale.

What I’m interested in is the way that this response reflects on larger questions of brand identity that are unquestionably caught up in this response to The Killing. This weekend, I read a piece on AMC’s growing dominance at the Emmy Awards at The Hollywood Reporter in which Sud was quoted quite extensively as she waxed poetic on the freedom of the AMC model. Her first quote was perhaps the one that stuck out most, as she notes that the AMC approach is perhaps best defined by the following: “Always assume that your audience is smarter than you are.”

Given how often I felt The Killing insulted my intelligence as a viewer, this quote struck me as odd. And then I read the rest of her quotes in the article, and discovered the same issue: when she was only spouting a series of platitudes regarding the genius of the AMC brand that we hear from other writers (including a Breaking Bad writer in the same piece), I could take none of them at face value given the fact that The Killing has done little to earn them. In a climate in which The Killing has squandered nearly all of its critical goodwill, Sud’s comments were charmlessly naive, and this was before she made many similar comments in defense of the season finale.

I have nothing against Sud personally, and I think she is entitled to her opinion that her show wasn’t a failure. However, so long as her defense of the show is being framed in the same terms of the AMC brand, the network has a serious problem on their hands. This is a network that feeds off of critical attention, and that has been very protective of its brand identity, but it now finds itself becoming represented by a showrunner who has none of the credentials or the evidence to back up her rhetoric.

It’s a scenario that risks turning AMC into just another brand hiding behind rhetorical statements of superiority, and which should be creating some big questions within the network’s executive structure as they head into an important period for their future development.

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Ode to Perabo: Celebrating Golden Globetrocity

Ode to Perabo: Celebrating Golden Globetrocity

December 14th, 2010

Normally, I wake up to watch the Golden Globes nominations (which you can read here) early…at 9am. Living in the wonderful Atlantic time zone for so long, I got spoiled by the notion that I need only wake up a little bit early to witness the countless (relative) atrocities the Hollywood Foreign Press Association commits each year, and so I’d often offer robust analysis of the nominations after they were finished.

However, now that I find myself in the Central time zone, I lack the advantage of having considerably more sleep than the poor souls on the West Coast – sure, 7am might not be 5am, but it’s still early enough to dull my senses and render any sort of complex analysis impossible.

And yet, regardless of the numerous ludicrous nominations that I could complain about (and which fit nicely into my previous theorum regarding the HFPA’s modus operandi in my analysis of last year’s nominations), I can say this: this morning, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association entertained me in ways I never thought possible by nominating Piper Perabo of USA’s Covert Affairs for Lead Actress in a Drama Series.

And just so we’re clear, this is not the kind of entertainment they were going for.

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