For a while, I was watching a series called Stacked. It was as bad as you would expect a show to be that centered on a character played by Pamela Anderson. It was supposed to be a humorous contradiction that a woman with fake boobs would work at a book store (yeah, check the title again). Still, it had Christopher Lloyd and an impressively large quantity of excellent one-liners.
It also had a recurring character played by Paget Brewster, who caught my attention by being so attractive. I had seen her occasionally in many other things, but where could I really see her shine? Evidently, on Criminal Minds.
Oof. I started with the first episode. It was over before it had begun. It was like they took a whole story and compressed it into a third of its run time. Maybe the first episode was just rough around the edges, as is typical for a pilot episode of anything. The next episode was the same way. Also, no Paget Brewster. I jumped ahead to S2:E9, her first appearance in the series. The format was the same, and Paget’s character didn’t have much screen time. After that, it stayed on my watch list for a while, but I just couldn’t bring myself to watch it anymore.
It boggled my mind why anything like that would be made. It wasn’t a mistake: the show ran for fifteen seasons. Who would be watching anything like this, and what would they get out of it? It had the appearance of a keen detective procedural: a group of attractive people with serious attitudes solving crimes by being brilliant. However, the audience was never given a chance to participate in their brilliance. The characters just knew things. One because his head is full of trivia. One because he understands human behavior so well. One because she sits at a magical computer. This show isn’t for viewers who want to appreciate brilliance by understanding it. It’s for viewers who just want to see brilliant people in action. Like going to the circus.
That’s as far as I thought about it until today, when I realized that there are viewers who can’t understand the brilliance, of course, even when it’s explained to them. In fact, such audiences probably make up a significant portion of the market. Why sit through boring explanations you don’t understand and probably make you feel stupid? Stripping that out saves a lot of time. A, then B, then C, then D. Who cares why? We already know why. It’s because the smart detectives are smart. The proof is in the results.
This kind of show isn’t for viewers who want to feel gratified by following along, by appreciating and identify with the mental process. It’s for people who are in awe and a little in love with characters who are smarter than them.