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Is TV too Dark?

Laura Beth Nov 11

Turn the Lights On?

I came across this article from Vulture.com, titled “TV Dramas Are (Literally) Too Dark”. What struck me about this opinion piece is that it was responding as a viewer to a creative “issue” that I think is real and prevalent in the cinematography of films and television right now. The author is bored with our color palette and lighting scheme! Just, bored. And, perhaps, rightly so.

The title is perhaps misleading, or else I’m shrugging it off anyway, as I’m not inclined to entertain the suggestion that all TV simply needs to be “less dark.”  But what I do appreciate is that, “dark” or not, this viewer is articulating that they are bored with the look of dramas.  And while each show individually may look “good”, the trend as of late has been to look “the same” instead of “different.” (Not just TV, this goes for movies as well. Orange and Blue color scheme anybody?) With so many new shows on new platforms, it seems to make sense to want to play it safe and make your show look like other similar shows to help make buyers more comfortable, or to ease the audience in to new media channels, etc. Maybe that’s a good idea. Maybe that’s safer… It’s certainly easier than coming up with your own unique look.

What this article points out for me, is just a reminder to make sure that I have a REASON for something to be dark, or bright, or hot pink, or whatever the choice was in the moment. Make sure it serves the story in a unique way, makes the moment more potent, and hopefully helps the audience connect with our story… and not get bored with it.

We have to acknowledge that our movie or TV show exists in a pool of other material. If it looks similar to another show, that fact will have advantages and disadvantages. It could make you show better-liked or the audience could just be bored!

If the gig is just to “make it look like that other show” let’s at least make sure we understand why.  Otherwise, all we’ve done is copy each other. They say that imitation is the most sincere form of flattery, and that we must copy our masters until we are ready to create on our own. If this is true, I shall hope that we are in for an explosive renaissance in cinematography and visual storytelling in the coming years.

Do you think the majority of TV is too dark?  Ha. Or are movies and TV too similar-looking?


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