Enough murder and angst: TV needs to lighten up in 2019


I met the other day with an Amazon executive who asked me what shows people at work were watching on TV.

“ ‘The Haunting of Hill House,’ ” I told him. “ ‘The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.’ ” Two shows that, even if flawed, are interested in entertaining an audience — as opposed to sending them to Bellevue for observation after another traumatic encounter with an awards-hungry, “prestige” limited series about stalkers, killers and the always oppressive patriarchy.

It’s no wonder everyone’s running to see “Mary Poppins” in the theaters. They want to escape the bleak TV landscape.

Here are some trends I’d like to see go away or at least abate this holiday season.

This year TV won the misery sweepstakes. Wherever you looked, you wanted to look away. Yvonne Strahovski had her finger chopped off on “The Handmaid’s Tale.” Amy Adams was a human sacrifice (with a great blowout) on HBO’s “Sharp Objects.” Mike Farrell had his face bashed in and head nearly cut off on “The Assassination of Gianni Versace.” The success of “American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson” spawned a true-crime tsunami that threatens to sweep us all away. Four out of the five nominees for the limited series category at the Golden Globes next month are about killers: “The Assassination of Gianni Versace,” “The Alienist,” “Escape at Dannemora” and “Sharp Objects.” One is about an attempted murder: “A Very English Scandal.”

While two or maybe three of these properties were stylishly executed, it’s fair to say the medium’s fascination with true crime has reached a saturation point.