Last night was the fifth episode of the new AMC series, The Killing. Haven’t seen it yet? Well, it’s the kind of show you have to watch in the dark, wrapped in a blanket, while it’s raining. And like everything on AMC, it’s great TV. And like everything on AMC, it can be tough to stomach. In a recent promo of Breaking Bad, Brian Cranston says it takes backbone to watch their show…and the same goes for The Killing. It’s not exactly pleasurable to witness the intense grief of a family whose teenaged daughter was brutally murdered, but it is compelling human drama.
The Killing asks the question, “Who killed Rosie Larsen?” We know we won’t find out (not for a while, at least), but that’s the fun of it. The story builds slowly, so those who are used to watching Law and Order/CSI: (Insert City Here) will be itching for more action.
But there’s plenty brewing under the cloudy Seattle surface. There’s a seemingly squeaky-clean politician, an inappropriate teacher-student relationship, and a loving father with a mobster past. The characters are mysterious, but accessible. We can tell that some of them will make bad decisions leading to bad results (much like Breaking Bad’s Walter White or Mad Men’s Don Draper). And we know that when that time comes, we won’t want to look away.
What I love most about all the shows on AMC (The Killing, Breaking Bad, Mad Men, Rubicon, and The Walking Dead) is that they don’t assume that we’re stupid. Instead, they make the assumption that we’re intelligent consumers of culture who can reach our own conclusions and read between the lines. AMC characters aren’t stereotypical, one-note caricatures like the girls of Sex and the City (Miranda-The Feminist, Samantha-The Sexpot, Charlotte-The Princess). They’re complex – and they usually have a lot to hide. We don’t find out everything about them all at once, and we wouldn’t want it any other way. That’s what keeps us watching…what will we find out next?
Catch The Killing Sunday nights on AMC.