Five Reasons Why “The Following” is Balls

6a00d834516ae369e201761740e49f970c-800wiI like Kevin Bacon. I really do. I gave this show a shot mostly because of him. I gave it a second shot because he was in it. I watched the rest of the season…well, not because of him anymore, but out of a masochistic desire to finish the damn thing already. It stinks, he stinks, the writing stinks. It’s balls.

I don’t like making unsupported claims. Let me tell you exactly why it’s balls.

  1. The protagonist: Ryan Hardy. Ryan is a tortured, self-destructive detective with a drinking problem and a deep-seeded fear that everyone he ever loves is doomed to death. He’s right, starting with this stillbirth of a character. Every…and I mean EVERY…cop cliché is thrown together in a jumble of badness. Ryan plays by his own rules. If he has a hunch he follows it, FBI be damned. And he’s always right, because the writers prefer it that way. Ryan is too damaged to love. He pines tragically for the killer’s wife, with whom he had an affair but nobly dumped because she needed to move on. He’s tough and just and weathered and blah, blah blah blah, de blah. Didn’t Kiefer Sutherland do this same damn thing like, five years ago? Haven’t the Law & Orders, et al been flogging this dray horse for the better part of three decades? I get it, we love cops, and the more unhappy the better. But c’mon already, it’s been done and done and done. Kevin knows a good script. He was in JFK! Tell me he didn’t see the obvious cracks in this character by page two. Maybe he tried to throw the script in the garbage but it was so one-dimensional it just bounced off the can like it was a painting. He should have burned it.
  2. The antagonist: Joe Carroll. Joe is a Literature professor with an English accent who, after killing a bunch of young women in some convoluted homage to Edgar Allan Poe, masterminded this big old plan to escape from jail, kidnap his wife and child and relentlessly tweak his arch-enemy Ryan Hardy with the help of countless insane “followers” who live and breathe by his every word. Not since Snidely Whiplash has there been such a trite, obvious and all around ham-handedly evil character as Joe. He might as well be twirling his mustache over a damsel in distress tied to a railroad track. He’s supposed to be creepy and intelligent with some overarching plan that will blow the lid off the crime-thriller genre. So far, all he does is ruminate over his badly written book while consistently having his plans blow up in his face. Mastermind? Who puts a bunch of psychotics together in a commune-like house and expects everything to run swimmingly? By benefit of what, his English accent? His magnetism? He’s not magnetic so much as earnestly silly and unrelentingly over-the-top.
  3. The damsel: Claire. Joe’s ex-wife who was apparently so oblivious to her own husband that she was unaware he was secretly ducking out at night to buy a bottle of scotch and kill some co-eds. THEN she hops into bed with the detective who put her husband in jail because that always happens. And she has a darling boy with her killer ex, to whom she is about as maternal as one of those bare wire mother surrogates in that rhesus monkey experiment. Not since Laurie in The Walking Dead has there been a character who so inspires you to root for her immediate death. Lovely Claire, who although her son is missing and her ex-husband is trying to get his hands on her for a reconciliation/retaliation-fest, ALWAYS has her hair just so and never lacks time to apply eyeliner. Lots and lots of eyeliner. Unlimited eyeliner must have been written into her contract. She’s attractive enough if you think you should cast a vulnerable suburban mom off the Maxim’s Top 100 Hot List. Go back to soap operas, Claire, or just die already.
  4. The whole “Poe” thing. Whoever is writing this series obviously has a Cliff’s Notes version of Selected Stories of Edgar Allan Poe and they’re not afraid to use it. From “The Raven” to “The Fall of the House of Usher” to “Masque of the Red Death”, the quotes just keep on comin’. Stand-alone quotes with a wisp of hackneyed explication by the hero, adding ultimately to squat. Apparently the big, revelatory reading of Poe leads to the concept that “killing is natural”. That’s it. That’s the best they could do with one of the most original horror writers in the English language. A Poe Literature professor and all of his breathless students came up with the genius idea that killing is OK. Oh, THAT’S why people still read Poe nearly 200 years later! It’s all so simple! Man I should have taken American Lit with Crazy Joe, I would have aced that shizz! Come to think of it the writers should have taken that class too, and maybe a few screenwriting courses as well.
  5. The Followers. These are supposed to be a group of hard-core killers who manage to lead normal lives, known in their full depravity only to Joe. The problem is they walk around acting like complete loons. And dramatic loons. It’s like Psycho Beach Party meets Dawson’s Creek in that house. Everyone’s sleeping around, killing people randomly, crying about their feelings, killing people randomly, questioning why they dropped everything else in their lives to follow Snidely McBadactor, killing people randomly… They’re supposed to be psychotically dangerous, but come off as the kind of whiny navel-gazers Winona Ryder made a career out of playing circa Girl, Interrupted. And if someone at line at the store was acting as obviously insane as these people frequently do, six people behind them would have called 911 from their cell-phone before they paid for their hatchet and switchblade. Hiding in plain sight? These people (actors, writers, producers included) have the subtlety of a crazy, homicidal pie in the face.

Want to know the true tragedy? I watched the damn thing. I could have been listening to sports radio, or taking care of my lawn or God forbid writing a new play. No, I had to get wrapped up in this mess. Balls to you, Bacon, and your six degrees of horrendous.

    • theresa petti butler galimi
    • April 26th, 2013

    I agree with most and yet although I missed the beginning, I too have watched. I can’t imagine what will happen next. I like Kevin Bacon and usually have no patience in watching something that I don’t get, so I don’t know why I continue to watch, but I do, The followers are more like living dead. Many people are watching, so it must be something, lol.

    • Like a friend of Mary Els’ said recently, a lot of people eat Dominoes pizza but that doesn’t mean it’s good!

    • Jill
    • April 27th, 2013

    Ever episode, since the second one…we keep saying “This is horrible”…I guess we’ll stop watching after Monday’s! (The series finale).

    • Oh I’m in for the finale, but then I’m gone like Donkey Kong.

  1. The bloody followers are us! I also keep on watching this drivel – I think only because I recorded it so it’s taking up valuable hard drive space. It’s so poorly written it makes Footloose look amazing!

    • Yes! We are the followers! This is just a social experiment to see how much bad writing we can take.

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