A phrase that has often been uttered in TV shows of a crime drama nature when faced with the more disturbing cases of that show, most often involving serial killers. By any means a staggering and disturbing statistic that highlights many other aspects of the world we live in today. One such aspect is the way in which many people develop an affinity for serial killers and the work they do, whether it’s copycat killers who try to emulate them, or the serial killer groupies who flock to such men (because by and large serial murder is committed by men), or just those who collect details about them out of some twisted affinity for the morbid or obscene. The Following, a new show that I had the fortune to see at a recent screening held at FanExpo, attempts to bring many of these tragic elements together to form a story worth telling.
There are a lot of things about this story that are interesting because of it. You have the tragic hero with the checkered past, the young upstart who wants to believe they know everything, and the driven professional who wants to believe that having a plan will result in everything working out. Where the story differs from a lot of what has been seen before is that at the center of what will most likely be driving the force behind the story is a serial killer who has managed to develop quite a fan base.
In a world that has become increasingly fan focused, it’s a worthy question to ask what if the person you’re a fan of isn’t so nice? What if what you’re doing to impress them isn’t a good thing? Are you still a fan or are you something worse? Are you just obsessive? To some extent I think that The Following is attempting to answer that question. The question of how far it is okay to go for what you love. However I think it also has another interesting element to it that at the very least as a writer I am very interested to see. One of the major hooks of the show seems to be that both main characters are writers, and part of the shorthand that is established in the beginning is the idea of storytelling as a metaphor for life.
The struggle, the heartbreak, the moral of the story, these appear to be one of the backdrops on which many of the future episodes will be based and it has certainly peaked my interest. Anyone who knows me is aware of how much I believe in the way that art imitates life and the importance of understanding and learning about the ideas and principals behind those stories. The Following appears to try to blend all of these elements together and at the very least I think it’s clear that the creator, Kevin Williamson, has a very clear understanding of that that is trying to be blended, which is interesting because I haven’t always felt that way about his work.
He can be somewhat hit and miss with the stories he is trying to tell, from his hits like Scream and Dawson’s Creek, to his stumbles like The Vampire Diaries which stumbled out of the gate before finding sure footing and The Secret Circle which never did. Taking a look at what he has done with The Following so far, I feel pretty confident in saying that he has the potential to make this one for the hit column. And so...Should Kevin Bacon’s new show find a Following? I think it should, but only time will tell if it will be a good following or a bad following.