What have you been watching? Including Guilty Party

It’s “What have you been watching?”, your chance to recommend to fellow TMINE readers anything you’ve been watching this week

It’s mid-October and I’m still reviewing things! How amazing is that. But I’m not watching so much, it seems, since I’m getting through an episode of something then giving up, for the most part.

I’m going to have to work on that, aren’t I?

I have at least made it to the end of Only Murders in the Building (US: Hulu; UK: Disney+), which ended pretty well, but inconclusively and only proved that the US really needs stronger libel laws, if people are just going to go around willy nilly accusing people of murder. There’s a cliffhanger, too – two in fact – which actually made me less likely to want to watch season two. But the ending was amusingly meta at least, with our true-crime podcast fans having now acquired fans of their true-crime podcast and uniting with them to try to solve the mystery.

I might be back for season two, since the cast were amiable enough, there were some good jokes and the occasional very good episode indeed. But crime dramas, particularly intricate ones that require you to pay attention to what happened to person x and what they were holding in episode 2 of 8 just don’t really fit into my ‘one and done’ viewing pattern, so it’s a tough fit.

Episode 2 of CSI: Vegas sits ready to be watched, as do the next few episodes of Ghosts; I just have to find the time to watch them, which given that next week is half-term, isn’t impossible, even if my writing about them is.

I’ve also got the first episode of Hulu (US)’s Dopesick to watch, which given that’s going to be hitting Disney+ in about a month seems a reasonably important task, even if it’s a quasi-true-story drama starring Michael Keaton about the opioid crisis in the US. That sounds hard and harrowing. Goddamn it.

Still, I hope to review that properly this week, but that’s going to be another tricky proposition…

All of which left me with one new show to watch…

Guilty Party (US: Paramount+)

A discredited journalist is desperate to save her career by latching on to the story of a young mother, Toni Plimpton, who has been sentenced to life in prison for killing her husband.

Rob says: ‘It’s a crime’

Apparently, this show has already been hailed as “genre-bending”, combining drama, true crime, thriller and social commentary. TBH, it also sounds a lot like Truth Be Told (Apple TV+), but let’s look further.

Creator Rebecca Addelman says: “It was very intentional decision-making on the show’s part to go at the idea of white saviour-ism and to present what may seem like stereotypes initially and take those stereotypes and develop very real and very dimensional characters that evolve to truly unexpected boundary-breaking places.”

My problem with that is that honestly, based on the first episode, I don’t trust the writers to do that. Stereotypes in abundance yes. Total lack of reality? That, too.

It was dreadful.

Not 100% dreadful. I got to the end of the episode and saw the credits. “Kate Beckinsale” starred in it. This was genuinely a revelation to me. Not for one second did I realise it was her – and in a good way. She didn’t look like herself or sound like herself. Not one mannerism or gesture of hers reminded me of any of her previous roles.

Even when I skipped back to look at her performance, I really had to work at it to spot that yes, this was the same Kate Beckinsale who’d done Emma (UK: ITV) and Underworld (2003). Absolute kudos to her on that. If you were to watch Guilty Party for her and her alone, that would understandable.

The trouble with the show is that it’s about a discredited journalist trying to solve a true crime. You see her on the verge of winning an award at the start of the episode, only – 10 minutes afterwards – for her newspaper boss to come up to her at the party, introduce the company lawyer, say “You’ve probably not met before” (an award-winning investigative journalist who hadn’t met the company lawyer? Sure. That’s plausible), and for that lawyer to say “We have reason to belief you may have fabricated a quote so we’re going to have dismiss you.”

You fired someone for maybe fabricating a quote? You are so going to get sued.

Except she doesn’t. She then goes to work for some online gossip mag and is surprised that the gossip mag doesn’t want to do things in which she sleeps with homeless people. Children: every journalist knows exactly what kind of title they’re going to work for and part of the job is knowing what sort of stories to pitch to meet that title’s aims. You are not a good journalist if you cannot do that. You are definitely not an award-winning journalist.

Anyway, she then goes to meet with a random woman in prison who writes she hasn’t committed the crime and needs help. But doesn’t prep, doesn’t do any research, knows nothing about the person she’s about to talk to. Not even the absolute basics of journalism, from a once award-winning journalist who wants to camp out with homeless people to get important stories. This is despite a supposed year of hating her job/life/etc and wanting to do anything to hit the big time again.

Dealing with “white saviour-ism”? You can’t even deal with journalism, let alone properly create a character who could represent white saviour-ism that wouldn’t be stupidly easy to knock over. If you want to tackle an issue well, at least have some knowledge of your subject matter yourselves. Then you might be taken seriously and you might even be able to generate some nuance, something for the audience to digest, rather than spit out as soon as it hits the mouth.

Which is what I’m going to be doing. Beckinsale is great, the show is dreadful.

But what did you watch?

Author

  • Rob Buckley

    I’m Rob Buckley, a journalist who writes for UK media magazines that most people have never heard of although you might have heard me on the podcast Lockdown Land or Radio 5 Live’s Saturday Edition or Afternoon Edition. I’ve edited Dreamwatch, Sprocket and Cambridge Film Festival Daily; been technical editor for TV producers magazine Televisual; reviewed films for the short-lived newspaper Cambridge Insider; written features for the even shorter-lived newspaper Soho Independent; and was regularly sarcastic about television on the blink-and-you-missed-it “web site for urban hedonists” The Tribe. Since going freelance, I've contributed to the likes of Broadcast, Total Content + Media, Action TV, Off The Telly, Action Network, TV Scoop and The Custard TV.