December 6, 2023

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Why are new TV series often set in the past?

Why are new TV series often set in the past?

New TV series are rarely landing on your streaming service this fall. Where do all these come from? Period dramaWhat makes it seemingly irresistible to both creators and viewers?

Ronald Meuse

The period leading up to World War II with All the light we can’t see (Netflix). 1950s with Chemistry lessons (Apple TV+). The sixties and seventies with the second season of Julia (HBO). The 1980s recently aborted prematurely Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty (HBO). Even the 1990s, a decade that Generation X thinks was only yesterday, will be revisited in the upcoming final season of the crown It is captured as a historical era.

Then things that happen in further times: the second season of The Gilded Ageabout American capitalism before the turning point between the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the era of Caribbean maritime piracy in the second year of Our knowledge means death (HBO), or back in the late 19th century in the Edith Wharton film adaptation Pirates (Apple TV+). Anyone who starts watching a TV series in the new fall season will almost stumble Period drama‘s.

Ancient purity

Not that this is necessarily new. Look at the series that continued the TV novel and you’ll end up too mad men (1960s), Empire Corridor (the ban), Dead wood (Same era The Gilded Age), World War II drama Band of brothers And PacificThe beginning of the computer era He stood up and burst into flamesor the period between the two world wars Slim masks. Their appeal is not difficult to explain, the American popular culture website wrote eagle: A TV about another era can at least provide a distinctive factor that’s quickly visually recognizable compared to what someone sees while scrolling on their smartphone today.

The types of stories told in it also differ. In those fashions, which have been researched down to the last detail, and for those expensive collections, ancient purity is sought. “I hope the audience identifies with these characters and their humanity,” said director Shawn Levy of the new Netflix miniseries. All the light we can’t seeThe film follows a blind French girl and her father who flee Nazi-occupied Paris to the Breton seaside town of Saint-Malo. “They are stories,” Levy continues, “where human connection means salvation.”

Image from “All the Light We Can’t See”.Image courtesy of NETFLIX

Contemporary echo

According to California media psychologist Pamela B. Routledge, historical dramas are “like a flight simulator for life.” It shows us ways of being through universal themes of love, betrayal, redemption, innocence, justice, sacrifice, and transformation. Even when their characters try to break cultural and time-bound stereotypes, they still live by certain rules.

The interview in which she said this is from 2021, but she is still talking about it Chemistry lessons He may have. In the new Apple TV+ series, Brie Larson plays a chemist who is more competent than most of her male colleagues, but is still allowed to make coffee for the latter every day. also Chemistry lessons It stands out with its poppy 1950s vibe, but tries to tell a story that still resonates today. However, it is the relative neutrality of the historical framework, which allows for a strong focus on the element of liberation.

“Cinematically, we wanted to make sure that the 1950s world it was set in was one you could get lost in,” Sarah Adena Smith, the screenwriter who helped translate Bonnie Jarmus’s novel to the screen, told the site. ScreenRant. “A story that doesn’t just feel like a stereotype from the ’50s. We wanted it to feel like a contemporary story.”

“Lessons in Chemistry”: Pay special attention to the 1950s poppy decor.Apple image

Contemporary concept

Why not immediately set this story in 2023? Because the historical setting removes some of the obstacles that often get in the way of a story’s themes. Our modern world is complex, with all the hotbeds of tension on the planet often linked in some subtle way. In ancient times, of course, they also existed, and were usually more numerous, but we do not feel them much because they belong to the abstract past.

And yes, of course (good) fantasy and science fiction stories also try to tell something about our contemporary existence. But the historical stories are a little closer to reality. They offer a useful interpretation of the past as it is understood in our present, writes Scottish historian Alana McPake in a recent study examining the cultural impact of historical series. Downton Abbey, the crown And Bridgerton discussion. “At the heart of the cultural reception of all historical productions (even blatantly fictional ones) is the belief that they are intended to educate.”

And sometimes, as it turns out, among other things All the light we can’t seePast and present meet again in an unexpected way. Scenes for the series were filmed with hundreds of extras representing Parisian citizens fleeing the invading army along with real Ukrainian refugees in Hungary, where the series was partly filmed. Levy: “It’s terrible that history can repeat itself this way.”

Aria Mia Luberti as Marie-Laure and Mark Ruffalo as Danielle LeBlanc in the movie

Aria Mia Luberti as Marie-Laure and Mark Ruffalo as Danielle LeBlanc in All the Light We Cannot See.Photo by Atsushi Nishijima/Netflix

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