On TV, the truth hits

As the news shows, real life is now heartbreaking, scary, frustrating and tiring. But as entertainment? Real life hot, hot, hot, baby!

The first few months of 2022 on TV had a nonstop pageant of the Rapid-From-Reality series. Did you read that juicy magazine feature a few years ago? It’s now a show: “Pam & Tommy” (based on a Rolling Stone article), “The Girl from Plainville” (Esquire), “Inventing Anna” (New York). We’ve got three series about degraded technology moguls based on a book and two podcasts. We get Julia Roberts Watergate’s story, “Gaslit”, based on another podcast. Based on a “dateline” investigation based on “Things about Pam”, “Joe vs. Carol,” – no, not after watching the “Tiger King” podcast on Netflix’s “Tiger King” podcast, but after watching the “Tiger King” podcast. You may have binged 6

These series, in contrast to the old sweep specials and cheap docudramas, are generally well polished. An almost embarrassing amount of creative and acting talent is thrown at them. And they’re good at talking because they focus on the kind of personality and scandals that people like to talk about.

But what makes them credible – the stories that listeners are already interested in, as they’ve been told before – makes it harder for audiobooks to be more than the digestible versions of pre-existing videos. Truth may be buzzier than fiction at the moment, but that doesn’t mean it’s interesting.

Why so many stories now, so brilliantly made? Maybe because drama has been competing for cultural space with nonfiction and documentaries for years now and is often losing.

In 2015, “The Jinx” on HBO, and “Making a Murder” on Netflix dominated the real-life documentary TV talk show, and the podcast made real news, just like the first season of “Serial”. The conversation then follows a stream of main truth-crime sagas and scammer tale-alls: “Wild Wild Country,” “Macmillion’s,” two fire festival documentaries together, two NXVM series and counts.

Meanwhile, scripted TV is in a curious place. There are so many platforms, so much material is needed, that theoretically there is a lot more room for innovation than ever before. But the abundance of content also makes TV timid. Of all the chaos, the surest way to get people’s attention is by twisting something familiar.

In a sector of TV, that means intellectual-property brand extensions from Marvel, Star Wars and 90s sitcom catalogs. In the other, it means retelling recently told non-fiction stories. Two listeners, one principle: Countless multipart ballads from the recent infamous tech mogul are the “Dumb Fate Book” for High-Gloss Limited-Series fans.

Instead of the imaginary flight of the original fiction, these series offer large, gorgeous performances, built around bizarre, bright images. (There are exceptions, such as Hulu’s Glam and the preserved “Dopsic.”) Instead of inventing, they provide imitation. They are rich with accents, ticks and prosthetics. The stars have been strangely transformed, with Madame Tussauds reprinting “Impeachment”, “Pam and Tommy” and coming later this month, “Gaslit”, where Shawn Penn, Nixon’s assistant John N. Mitchell, enough rubber pressed under the jol to make at least half the jabba the hut.

Peacock’s “Joe vs. Carol” uses gifts from John Cameron Mitchell and Kate McKinnon to turn Joe Exotic and Carol Baskin into more cartoons than the Netflix series. In NBC’s bizarre truth-crime story “The Thing About Palm”, Renee Zellweger features a portrait aimed at “Fargo” – an esque dark comedy but close to a “SNL” sketch.

At times, the caricature goes so far as to become an art in itself, as in Julia Garner’s Euroscammer Anna Delvi’s “Inventing Anna” interpretation of another world. The series pulls itself out, and I have no idea if it’s an accurate or responsible rendering of reality. (It begins with the announcement that this is a true story, “except for the fully-formed parts.”) All I know is this – much like Puchi in “The Simpsons” – whenever anyone other than Anna was on screen, I thought anxiously. Where was

But like the accidental trilogy of the season in the Tech-Hostler series, the shock of this performance often hides the original question mark. Jared Leto Letos in the role of Adam Newman, the founder of WeWork, on Apple TV +’s “WeCrashed”, from “Despicable Me” to Triumph the Insult Comic Dog and Gru with a crazy intensity and accent. But the character has no real idea outside of excessive rudeness.

Similarly, Showtime’s “Super Pumped: The Battle for Uber” (based on a book by New York Times reporter Mike Isaac), is nothing if not all-in as Joseph Gordon-Levitt ride-sharing entrepreneur Travis Callahan. But the series, including its head-scratching soundtrack and video-game visuals, has all the sound and alpha rage. It doesn’t really develop its focal character outside of the way the pilot describes himself – like a jerk (to use a light word) – and he behaves in any situation the way you would think a jerk.

In the best of three tech series, Hulu’s “The Dropout,” starring Amanda Sefrid Elizabeth Holmes, a young biotech entrepreneur who claimed to be able to test his start-up, Theranos, the battery in a drop of blood. It’s an urgent, militant performance, imagining Holmes as a bundle of mania and green juices, dancing in solitude with his nerves closed, his flop sweat hiding a tumultuous voice and a Steve Jobs turtleneck.

The story – how Holmes lured old, dumb money, the bloody potemkin tricks behind Theranos counterfeit technology – jaw dropping, and producer Liz Merioweather (“new girl”) tells it with flash and dark humor. But that story has already been widely reported in news reports, a book, an HBO documentary, and a series based on that podcast. Holmes, meanwhile, remains a mystery as to what he started.

Now, it’s absolutely true that real life doesn’t always give you a neat “rosebud” explanation; Real people are often the source of unresolved conflicts. But this is one of the reasons for our drama: to make this kind of image emotional, even if not literal. (Orson Wells, therefore, re-imagined William Randolph Hearst as Charles Foster Kane.)

When people say “truth is more unfamiliar than fiction,” what they mean is more inexplicable. It’s random; It is poorly predicted; All characters except us are a black box. Here, in a story, a step of imagination, not to tie everything into a neat bow but to give insight. Instead, many real-life series today seem like students in a writing workshop that justifies a misleading plot twist “but it really did happen!” – A line that implies that literal reality is both the ultimate defense of fiction and its greatest aspiration.

And it’s fair to ask if most of these series have expanded on the reports we already have. Eli Fanning (“The Great”) will likely challenge Sefrid during the awards season, as in “The Girl from Plainville,” the young woman who persuaded her boyfriend to commit suicide. But the story is already coldly told in Erin Lee Carr’s “I Love You, Now Die” documentary.

Jeff Pearlman enters the reality derby with his HBO Hoops series, “Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty”, based on the book by Adam McKay, who explained real-life stories in his films “The Big Short” and “Vice”. By “Showtime”. I had high hopes for it, mainly because of how McCoy’s podcast, “Death at the Wing,” used 1980s basketball stories to create an overly, fairly violent case about the Reagan era and the war on drugs.

But “Winning Time”, aggressively entertaining, is bound up in the tiring style that characterizes “The Big Short”, full of screen captions, fourth-wall-broken and ever-changing film stock. It never stops. It’s never boring. But it lacks the consistency and perspective of well-conceived fiction. This is a dunk competition masquerading as a championship series.

None of this is to say that real life cannot be an element of great drama. “Mrs. America,” for example, told a parallel story about the Equal Rights Amendment movement of the 1970s and its nemesis, Phyllis Schlafly, in the process that today’s culture provides a prelude and source story to the war. A few years ago, the celebrity murder of “The People vs. Oz Simpson: American Crime Story” restored racial dynamics in the murder case and restored prosecutor Marcia Clark as a victim of sexist double standards. (It may not be a coincidence that these examples are decades apart in their subjects.)

Still, there’s a big thrill in the series that borrows snippets from real stories and runs wild with them, like the legal drama “The Good Fight”, which turns the nugget about troll farms and social media into a vision of democracy under cyber attack. The recent season premiere of “Atlanta” has turned a true-crime story about an adopted family into a hallucinatory fiction about well-intentioned racism.

But fiction nowadays stands against a culture that virtually reflects “it really happened” realism. The difference between the goals of fiction and nonfiction is so vague that professors report their students using the term “fiction novels” (which you know as “novels”). Cultural journalism has fallen in love [Show or Movie] Gets right / wrong about [Person or Event]”Fact-check, the kind of red-pencil critique that turns the industry into an AP subject test.

Does the industry actually force “get right”? Not events, feelings, human nature, own worldview. Its function is not to say anything that you can see on Wikipedia; Its job is to tell you something you don’t know, you don’t know what you want to know, it can make you question what is “right” long after you read or watch.

Perhaps the best judgment of TV’s true-story addiction lies in the comparisons of these series. You can highly appreciate one of these stories, after all, it’s like a “real-life” version of “Legacy” or “Silicon Valley,” or “Scandal.” These fictional series accurately set the standard because they are not documentary truths, but are free to follow the truth of their dark, satirical or external perspectives.

Does the current gorgeous show about scammers speak to our moment? Sure; Taken as a group, they have something to say about the distorted, distorted stimulus of modern economics. But individually, there is nothing tentative or effective about this, such as “separation,” a sci-fi instance of workers who split their consciousness to make it more productive – a premise that, not literally close to reality but perceived, executes. , Deeply true.

There are qualities of reality. But there is no such thing as a fake thing.

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