Review: Why I Won’t be Watching “The Following”

I don’t watch television often. I might — might — see one or two shows a week. My favs currently are The Mentalist, NCIS, NCIS LA — you know, action, slight intrigue, a little mystery, but mostly adventure where you are reasonable certain the main characters will survive.

I’ve watched Bones also –a least until it got weird with the whole Booth and Bones finally becoming a couple with a kid. I actually enjoyed the show that spun off it last year, The Finder before the untimely death of one of the leading actors.

So I was interested in the latest attempt to find something to pick up where Bones is — hopefully– leaving off. It’s called The Following and features Kevin Bacon in the lead role. I had an opening the other night and thought I’d check it out.

I didn’t make it past the first twenty minutes.


Why Not?

I suppose the plot of the pilot was intriguing enough. A serial killer has escaped from prison. He created “art” in the fashion of Poe and the Romantics —  by brutally murdering women. An alcohol dependant Kevin Bacon is awakened from his stupor to help find the killer. Apparently, Bacon’s character’s decline into depression was triggered by his past encounters with this killer.

I felt as if I has heard it all before, quite frankly.

Then there was the blood. Lots of it. I expected a little edgy violence and such, but The Following looked more like a slasher movie than a quality drama on network television. I know, I should watch more television and maybe I wouldn’t be so shocked. Come to think of it, that’s why id don’t watch CSI:NY. But if the gore on The Following is any indication of what’s on after 9 PM every night, then I’m not interested.

Here’s what I saw in twenty minutes: four guys with their throats and other stuff brutally slashed, blood splashed everywhere; dogs grotesquely killed with saws and other gut-wrenching equipment — one still barely alive; a naked woman plunging a foot-long ice pick into her eye and lying twitching on the floor in front of onlookers.

I confess I stopped watching at that point. Then I tried again to get through it, but when it became obvious that the main draw was going to be unbridled violence, I shut it down.

No thanks. The Following can find another following. Life is too short to fill my head with such images. Real news can be bad enough without my dwelling on such things.  As a Christ-follower, I try by God’s grace to set my mind on whatever is pure, lovely, of good report, etc. The Following may be edgy and shocking, but I didn’t find it at all helpful.

Life’s just too short to waste on such efforts that degrade my soul. As James Joyce once said, “Your mind will give back exactly what you put into it.” Naked women gouging out their eyes is not what I’d like back anytime soon.

That’s why I won’t be watching The Following.

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  • Yeah, I have to agree with you on this. While there is plenty of bleak media that is powerful and serves a purpose (e.g., Winter’s Bone, which I saw recently and is fantastic), it seems like so much of it is just bleakness for bleakness’s sake, and I’m not interested in that. It’s not art; it’s just deprtessing masturbation.

  • Jennifer

    Thanks for the “heads up”. I have a low gore/gratuitous violence threshold and would end up with my eyes and ears covered.

  • Gerardo

    Wow. The Following is a great show and the fact that you’re giving it a negative review just because of the blood content and graphic nature is ridiculous.

    It keeps you on the edge of your seat and is an excellent thriller.

    As a Catholic, I try to enjoy the life God has given me and watching good shows on television seems like a **** good way of entertaining myself when I come home from work.

    Just because everything isn’t coated with rainbows and butterflies doesnt make it a bad show.

  • Janet

    I couldn’t agree with you more! We wonder why there are shootings in schools in America when Americans fill their minds with such violence. You can have a good crime show without showing all the extreme blood/violence. There was way too much on the pilot of the Following! We turned it off, too. Phil. 4:8 says, “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” I choose to not fill my mind with such gruesome images.