Let’s say it all together through tears: HBO shows have never, ever been happier — or bleaker.
While the mega-network makes ratings history and dominates the Emmys with juggernaut series like “The White Lotus,” “Euphoria,” and “Succession,” the platform has helped usher in an era of “peak bleak” TV.
“The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power” co-creators Patrick McKay and JD Payne revealed that HBO’s “Succession” and “Game of Thrones” directly influenced the tone of their upcoming Amazon Prime Video prequel series. “It’s like, how do you top the most debased thing you can do?” McKay remembered thinking when watching other shows back in 2018 in an interview with Time. “Sometimes that’s really good in certain shows, but it’s also relentless.”
“In the past couple of years, I’ve noticed I don’t want to watch things about good people,” Schafer told The Cut in conversation with “The Acolyte” actress Amandla Stenberg. “I don’t know if you’ve ever experienced this. I think that’s why ‘Succession’ did such a number on us — because everyone is just fucking nasty.”
Stenberg added that cancel culture has now even extended to “canceling characters” in fictional shows and movies.
“I actually feel that is detrimental to what film is supposed to be about, which is putting terrible people on screens and laughing at them sometimes when necessary,” Stenberg said. “That’s a very healthy way for us to expel our demons. If we can take our demons and splash them across the silver screen and take a good look at them, maybe we can be more aware of them, and maybe we can laugh while we do it, and then the ego death comes a little easier.”
Schafer, who served as a consultant for her “Euphoria” character and also co-wrote a Season 2 episode with series creator Levinson, previously told V Magazine that the series “didn’t feel natural at first” as the role encompassed so much of Schafer’s personal past. In that sense, “Euphoria” was more uplifting than it was dark.
“Part of surviving [that] experience was just, like, getting through shit,” Schafer, who is transgender, said. “Letting it rest, and not addressing it. I think that’s what I had been [doing] up to that point: just going and going, fighting to be on the other side of my transition. There was so much that I was working towards, and I was so excited to [be out of] North Carolina that I don’t think I’d ever looked back on [that experience].”