Review: ‘The Following’

The Following

Although Variety’s initial review of “The Following” was largely favorable, it came with certain disclaimers and “qualms about its durability.”

With Monday’s finale completing the 15-episode run of a series Fox has already renewed for a second season, it’s safe to say while the concept of doing a cable-style show was interesting, it’s hard to envision any scenario that would make me want to return for future installments of a program so nihilistic, empty and, ultimately, lazy.

Why lazy? Because virtually every time the producers appeared to write themselves into a corner, they simply had a random character turn out to be one of serial-killer Joe’s followers, killing someone (or several people) in order to implement an escape. As for the feds led by Kevin Bacon’s Ryan Hardy, their main characteristic — other than being hopelessly outclassed and out-smarted by the bad guys time and again — was to engage in a level of torture that would have made “24’s” Jack Bauer begin yelling about Miranda rights.

Finally (and be warned, SPOILERS are ahead), “The Following” spent an inordinate amount of time putting women in horrible situations, including its derivative riff on “The Vanishing” — with someone suffocating in a coffin, buried alive — in the finale. After her stint in “Justified,” it would also be nice to find Natalie Zea a role that could free her of this odd ex-wife-in-peril niche into which she’s fallen.

Even Bacon’s battle-scarred FBI agent and James Purefoy’s suave killer/cult leader couldn’t redeem the series, which engaged in a positively inane story-within-the-story shtick in the “Final Chapter” (as the closing episode was titled).

“It’s overkill! You’re gonna destroy the story!” Hardy protested, referring to the villain’s attempts to script the climax like a gothic novel. If only producer Kevin Williamson had been listening, or someone at Fox had invested as much time into trying to shape the show’s arc as making sure every commercial break carried a “parental discretion” advisory.

In this spring of serial killer TV — including “Hannibal” and “Bates Motel” — “The Following” emerges as the most grisly of the lot, making life cheap and disposable at every turn.

So for all the program’s literary pretentiousness about Edgar Allan Poe, all I can think when faced with the prospect of picking up where the season cliffhanger left off is, “Nevermore.”

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  1. The Browns says:

    We have been on a number of sites to make comments regarding the show “The Following.” We also watched the entire season, thinking that it might redeem itself, and came to the same conclusions that you did. We agree with everything you wrote, and find it amazing that they are spending money on a second season! We are also taking note of the advertisers surrounding this seasons production!

  2. Daryle Gardner-Bonneau says:

    I was a big fan of “24,” and “Criminal Minds” is my favorite network show, but I was really PUT OFF by “The Following.” I managed to stomach one or two episodes but found it both disturbing and depressing. At least with “24” and “Criminal Minds” it was clear that there were good guys and they were at least reasonably realistic in their behavior. But in “The Following,” it was hard to imagine how the “good guys” would even stick around. If I was them, I’d have run as fast and far away as I could, which is what I did! Certainly not what I would call entertainment.

  3. Ellen Gordon says:

    I will miss this show ONLY because it was so bad it became funny. My husband and I really enjoyed sitting there laughing at the increasingly absurd plot twists and hurling insults at some of the more ridiculous characters (predominantly the wife Claire – no one could be as stupid as the writers made her appear.) It became a show we loved to hate. It’s no surprise the creator was behind the horror-movie spoof “Scream”. Too bad he didn’t present ‘The Following as a spoof series instead of trying to sell it as a serious drama about serial killers. I give this show 1 more season and predict a very short spiral in its ratings.

  4. cos says:

    You are absolutely right. The series became increasingly predictable and banal as it progressed. One can state with confidence what the outcome of the double stabbing at the end of the episode will be. Ryan will survive but Joe’s wife won’t driving Ryan to new levels of anguish and rage. Emma, who ran away to fight another day, will rally another group of homicidal followers around her for the next round of excessive mayhem. Violence is so overused as a plot device in this once promising series that it won’t just be he raven quoting “nevermore” during the shows second season.

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