TCA: Surprise! The Following Taking Heat from Critics Over Violent Content
Having recently previewed several episodes of the show (yes, it's pretty badass), we kind of saw this one coming. Especially in the climate of the world we're currently living in. News has come that "The Following" is under fire due to its content. Joy.
Deadline reports "The Following" creator and executive producer Kevin Williamson was obliged to defend the jarring level of sex and violence (particularly violence) in his new Fox horror thriller as the network kicked off its day at TCA this morning. Critics peppered Williamson with questions about whether television shows like this one may be part of the problem with society.
“I think we all worry about [the violence issue],” Williamson admitted. “Who wasn’t affected by Sandy Hook? We [sat] in the writers room after that and were all traumatized by it. I know that when I put pen to paper, it affects me, but I’m not sure how,” Williamson said. “We don’t sit around [in the writers room] and think of ways to kill people. I’m sitting and thinking of the drama. It’s meant to be a thriller and a provocative story. I guess it is a horrific and scary show but…”
Williamson acknowledged that the violence at Columbine many years ago absolutely inspired "The Following." “The story is shining a light on some of those kids,” he said. But he added that the show is meant to be “a work of fiction.” Thankfully the network hasn’t tried to scale back the level of violence, he maintained. The bigger struggle for him has been continuing to deal with the six-act structure of broadcast television and “how to make something scary when you’re writing to a commercial break.”
Keeping it all in perspective is Kyle Catlett, who plays the 6-year-old boy used as a pawn by James Purefoy's character's followers. Per the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, he said, "I'm allowed to watch almost everything. With my mom's permission." His mother said afterward that the kid was correct. "Nothing scares him," she said. "He saw everything on the set and laughed at it. He knows the difference between make-believe and real life."
Out of the mouths of babes...
"The Following" will premiere on Monday, January 21st, at 9/8c.
THE FBI estimates there are currently over 300 active serial killers in the United States. What would happen if these killers had a way of communicating and connecting with each other? What if they were able to work together and form alliances across the country? What if one brilliant psychotic serial killer was able to bring them all together and activate a following? Welcome to THE FOLLOWING, the terrifying new thriller from creator/executive producer Kevin Williamson (“The Vampire Diaries,” “Dawson’s Creek,” the Scream franchise) and director Marcos Siega (“The Vampire Diaries,” “Dexter”).
When notorious serial killer JOE CARROLL (James Purefoy, “Rome”) escapes from death row and embarks on a new killing spree, the FBI calls former agent RYAN HARDY (Emmy-nominated actor Kevin Bacon, X-Men: First Class) to consult on the case. Having since withdrawn from the public eye, Hardy was responsible for Carroll’s capture nine years ago, after Carroll murdered 14 female students on the Virginia college campus where he taught literature. Hardy is a walking textbook of all-things Carroll. He knows him better than anyone; he is perhaps Carroll’s only psychological and intellectual match. But the Ryan Hardy who broke the Carroll case years ago isn’t the same man today. Wounded both physically and mentally by his previous pursuit of this serial killer, it’s been a long time since Hardy has been in the field. This investigation is his redemption, his call to action. In contrast to nine years ago, Hardy isn’t calling the shots on this case. He works closely with an FBI team, which includes young, razor-sharp MIKE WESTON (Shawn Ashmore, X-Men).
Related Story: Go Inside "The Following" with These Four New Videos
The team considers Hardy to be more of a liability than an asset. But Hardy proves his worth when he uncovers that Carroll was covertly communicating with a network of killers in the outside world. It quickly becomes obvious that he has more planned than just a prison escape, and there’s no telling how many additional killers are out there. The FBI’s investigation leads Hardy to CLAIRE MATTHEWS (Natalie Zea, “Justified”), Carroll’s ex-wife and mother of the criminal’s 10-year-old son, JOEY (newcomer Kyle Catlett). Close during Hardy’s initial investigation, Hardy turns to Claire for insight into Carroll’s next move. The tension rises when Carroll’s accomplices kidnap his intended last victim from nine years ago. Hardy becomes ever more determined to end Carroll’s game when he realizes that this psychopath intends to finish what he started. The thriller will follow Hardy and the FBI as they are challenged with the ever-growing web of murder around them, masterminded by the devious Carroll, who dreams of writing a novel with Hardy as his protagonist. The reinvigorated Hardy will get a second chance to capture Carroll, as he’s faced with not one but a cult of serial killers.
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