Dear Grimdark Entertainment,
Everyone tells me you’re fantastic. My friends rave about you, they obsess about you, and their eyes grow wide in surprise that a giant geek like me doesn’t watch you.
I’ve told them it’s not my thing, I’ve told them it doesn’t interest me, and eventually I’ll lie and say it’s too violent, I don’t like zombies, I hate the actor, or whatever will get them to shut up.
You’ve enchanted the world, brought mobsters, zombies, fantasy, cops, superheroes, mystery, and countless other things into the public mind. You’ve touched our culture in a way that people everywhere have an idea who your protagonists are. The older among you have influenced your genres in ground breaking ways. Where would character dramas with an overarching story be without The Sopranos? What would the colour palette and story structure of Science Fiction be without Battlestar Galactica?
I appreciate your writing, your story structure, and your fantastic dialogue. Daredevil has some of the most thought provoking themes about what it means to kill and about being a Hero.
Despite your awesomeness, I can’t do it anymore. I’m sorry but I can’t do it anymore. It’s not you, it’s me.
Behind your edginess, your clever writing, and your amazing dialogue, you have a constant message. “Life Sucks!” “Everyone you love will die!” “Feel the Pain!”
Award winning and popular entertainment seems to have lost its sense of humour and its sense of hope. Even television shows that should be funny beyond belief to counteract their subject matter, like American Horror story, fail.
I’ve tried. I’ve tried for years to love you. I’ve forced myself to read and watch you. I just can’t do it.
I want fun. I want Hope. I want cheesy one-liners. I want sappy moments. I want friendships that last. I want love that burns beautifully. I want awkward people. I want characters that care about their friends.
In short, I want to enjoy my entertainment.
This doesn’t mean I’m against character death, sadness, or trauma. It just means I don’t want those to be your main emphasis.
Robert J. Sawyer is a master of making a book hurt me deeply but still be wildly entertaining. Frameshift was both sad and beautiful. It was hopeful, entertaining, and still makes me want to cry.
Joss Whedon’s Doctor Horrible is a wonderful Supervillain romp with singing and laughs aplenty but it doesn’t shy away from asking the important questions about killing and nature of evil.
The Final Girls examines the guilt and trauma of losing someone you love. It has a character that is borderline suicidal and blames herself for the death of her mother. It’s one of the funniest movies I’ve seen with one of the most entertaining premises.
Hope and deep character drama shouldn’t be mutually exclusive.
So I’m sorry Daredevil, Game of Thrones, Walking Dead, The Shield, The Expanse, Breaking Bad, American Horror Story, The Sopranos, Punisher, Gotham, True Blood, and countless others.
I just can’t be with you. I hope you find an audience that loves you.
I’ll just be over here reading, watching, or writing something that makes me feel more than just sad, broken, and hopeless.
P.S. Rape and torture aren’t fun. They aren’t necessary, they’re not something I want to experience (even second hand), and they certainly aren’t funny.