I guess this could have been my fault for building up so much anticipation for a show on TNT knowing that they’re just going to overdramatize it and strip it of any real value but I think my love for the film and just my desperation for new content during quarantine made me overlook a lot of more obvious signs that this would be a disappointment. In fact I think I’m still so desperate for new content that I’ll probably still watch the rest of the season and try to stay hopeful that it will turn into something better, however unlikely that is.
I guess I don’t really know where to start with the show. I think the problem arises from the fact that it is a show and not a movie. In the movie there is a lot of unknown’s about the premise and the characters and I think Bong Joon-Ho did that on purpose. Similar to his other movies, the film shows class division and economic struggle in the most elegant way possible by having the entire dynamic of a society exist on a single train. You didn’t have time to get attached to the characters or develop a clear understanding of why they are there because that’s not the point. The point was to show the struggle of a marginalized group going up against a group of elitists who know they need to keep someone on the bottom so that they can stay on top. They give you a taste of the different aspects of society but never really dive in too deep and by not diving in too deep they let the movie act as a concept and doesn’t get caught up in character arcs or personalities. All but one of the main characters ends up dying off at the end of the movie, showing that they made necessary sacrifices but now they’re free of this system that defined their worth.
In the show, they have to fill around 10 hours worth of content per season. That means now while they can have that kind of macro, overarching story, the majority of the time is going to have to be spent on character relationships and other micro storylines. Even within the first episode they establish a romantic relationship between Andre and Zarah. I get it, romance sells, especially on TNT but the original story had real weight to it and having some of these micro story lines sprinkled in starts to weaken that.
While these kind of things seem to unintentionally weaken the message, the show also seems to intentionally try to weaken the message by creating an odd dynamic between the Elites and the lower class. They spend a lot of the first two episodes establishing Andre’s new role as a detective on the train where he gets taken from the back of the train and is asked to help with the investigation of a murder because of his past experience. Just to get it straight, the same people who they go to war with once a year and feed bugs to are now being trusted to conduct a lawful investigation because they value democracy? I don’t necessarily think that’s an uninteresting story line to follow, I think it does devalue the message and doesn’t make a lot of sense and that seemed to be the major theme for me throughout the first 2 episodes.
Maybe I’m overreacting by putting out an article two episodes into the show. Maybe it will make a 180 mid way through the season. Either way I’m going to keep watching because they know there’s nothing else to do.