Why TV's "director-first" trend as seen with Maniac's Cary Fukunaga is a bad thing
"Television is a writer's medium. Always has been," says Tim Goodman. "Film is a director's medium. Always has been. Are there instances where fantastic directing is the most memorable thing about an episode or three of television? Of course. Just as there are films in which the script has been brilliant, memorable and arguably the central sustaining element of the project. But mostly the rules hold, for a simple reason. Great dramatic television is serialized; the stories are ongoing, often from season to season, weaving a vast, multiple-hour tale. It is the novel to film's short story." The problem is that TV shows where the director is king, like Fukunaga's Maniac, tend to emphasize style over substance. As Goodman notes, Maniac "uses both schizophrenia and the crippling effects of depression brought on by grief as the jumping-off point for its two main characters, but mostly lets the talented director Cary Joji Fukunaga spin out from there with a trippy, visually eclectic thrill ride...The trouble with Maniac, which became quickly evident as the episodes unrolled, was that this was always Fukunaga's vehicle, and less about the words of creator and writer Patrick Somerville ... That might explain why the series inadequately dealt with the schizophrenia of Jonah Hill's character, Owen, and barely did better showing how Emma Stone's character, Annie, learned to manage her depression and grief."
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