So there’s this problem I have with shows: I need them to be more than what they are. The best shows ever made — The Wire, West Wing, Breaking Bad — were often reflections of life, which is the main reason art in any form exists. So when something is very popular, has a huge budget and is basically too big to fail, it really annoys me when it stays simple.
The most glaring example of this is The Walking Dead, a show I love to hate. It has all the ingredients of a show that should be more than what it is but lacks the desire or direction to grow. With Netflix’s Daredevil reaching similar heights after a breakout first season, it should have continued to evolve. It didn’t.
I will give it credit for making some strides. Much of season 2, especially in the first half, revolves around Matt Murdock/Daredevil confronting the morality of what he’s doing. He comes fist-to-fist with two foes who are the extreme versions of what he is: a vigilante that uses violence to stop criminals. But his battles with the Punisher and Elektra are too on the nose. There’s no subtlety about what those characters represent, thus there’s no room for the story to reflect larger issues.
Let me be more specific. There is a scene where Sgt. Mahoney tells Foggy that the police are “not preventing crime anymore, [they’re] chasing it.” That could have led into a speech or dialogue about how cops should be respected, or that gun control regulations don’t go far enough, or that the cops tied up in hunting vigilantes should be out helping the disenfranchised. Instead, the writing steers from that great line into talking about something that only pertains to the story itself.
I realize that I might be in the minority about shows taking a stand for something. Most people want to be entertained, not preached to. But I think there is value in meaningful writing, and history has proven that the best shows are the ones that take the time and effort to be reflective of something greater than themselves.
Sure, Daredevil gets high marks for its action sequences, acting and lighting (or lack thereof). I also loved Joe Bernthal as Punisher, though I think his reign of terror was too short lived. People want to see the Punisher fight bad guys with guns, not prosecuting attorneys with appeals. Season 2 set the show up really well for either a third stand-alone season or the first season of The Defenders, in which I assume Wilson Fisk would be the main bad guy.
But who the hell wants to read that review? I certainly don’t want to write it. I want to write about why every female is supermodel hot, while some of the men are allowed to be fat or unattractive. I want to write about why only one of the 26 episodes was directed by a woman, or why all the white bad guys wear suits but all the Hispanic ones have tattoos on their faces.
I want shows to quit conforming to the idea that people don’t want diversity, as if Empire and Shonda Rhimes haven’t blown that dumbass theory out of the water. I want heart and soul. I want to learn something new or feel something different. Netflix has even helped pave the way on this front with shows likes Master of None and Jessica Jones, two shows that blended important topics in with their stories.
So yeah, I’ll keep watching Daredevil, partly because it’s a good show and partly because I’m susceptible to boilerplate TV just like everyone else. But Daredevil will never make me excited to write about it. I won’t tell my friends and family to watch like I do with Transparent, because I could care less if they see it.
We live the best damn period for original programming. I literally cannot keep up with all the things I want to watch, yet here I am spending 13 hours on something I won’t remember in four months. I’m tired of tired TV, and you should be too.