Cinemax's Banshee: Should I keep watching it?
July 25, 2016 11:59 AM   Subscribe

I've been watching the Cinemax series Banshee and while I'm enjoying it so far, the fact that Alan Ball is the executive producer makes me a bit skeptical of its chances of staying good because of True Blood, which started off well enough before degenerating into a stinking mess. Should I stick with it?

I understand that it's a show that involves a healthy suspension of disbelief, which I'm fine with, as long as it's entertaining and interesting.

I see that there is a Fanfare for the show, which is encouraging, but I don't want to read it out of a fear of spoilers. No spoilers in your comments please! Thank you.
posted by Fister Roboto to Media & Arts (6 answers total)
For what it's worth, here are graphs of episode-by-episode IMDB ratings for Banshee and True Blood. Individual tastes will vary, and IMDB ratings tend to reflect a relatively restricted range of tastes, but it may still be a useful data point.
posted by Johnny Assay at 12:12 PM on July 25, 2016

Executive producer sometimes means "this person has day-to-day showrunning responsibilities and has fingers in every pie." See John Logan's role in Penny Dreadful. They tend to be relatively young, hungry, and groundbreaking.

Sometimes it means "this person did most-to-none of the development work to get this show to air but for whatever reason is not involved with day-to-day production any longer though still contractually entitled to a credit and some cash." See Donald P. Bellisario's role in NCIS. They tend to be old, fat on past glory, and content to leave the groundbreaking to the other executive producers who are more like the John Logan type.

I've never seen Banshee, but I've heard it's like Justified crossed with WWE, and that just doesn't scream classic Alan Ball to me. Plus, no spoilers, I think there's not much chance of the show becoming demented in its old age.
posted by infinitewindow at 1:17 PM on July 25, 2016

The scuzzball neo-noir tone of the show is able to sustain the semi-preposterous central premise for longer than expected. Interestingly, the producers were offered the opportunity after season three to extend the show to six seasons. They declined, saying that four seasons was all they needed. The ending of the show is very solid, so you're not watching for nothing. I wouldn't put it up with the best of the Golden Age of TV finales, but it tick most of the boxes you'd want to see and leaves a person fairly satisfied. Ten years ago, we might have called it a great denouement, but with the bar raised so much the last few years, it's probably safer to say it's a good ending.

The fantastic cinematography, bone-crushing fight scenes, and endless double-crossing go straight through to the end.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 1:19 PM on July 25, 2016 [3 favorites]

I've watched the show since the start. I'm slowly working my way through the last season. Overall it's been a fun, but ridiculous ride, but you have to be prepared for a few things.

First, it's over-the-top when it comes to the depiction of violence. I mean cartoon levels of violence plus buckets and buckets of blood (and bone and brains and teeth and whatever other body part can be detached/removed/pulped).

Second it's clearly shot for the male gaze--especially the last season. I swear if I have to look at one more shot of a certain corpse I'm going to scream (and yes, I'm well aware there will be plenty more of those shots to come.) It didn't bother me as much in earlier seasons but I guess they figured they'd go out on a leering high at the end.

Third, there isn't as much done on the psychological development front/character development arc as I was initially hoping for when I started watching--or at least there hasn't been to the point I'm at now. Honestly, I wanted more drama regarding the man who claims to be sheriff Hood. Yeah, we get some of his gangster backstory, but I wanted more of him dealing with the demands of living somebody else's life, but that's not what the show is about.

Having said all that, I've stuck with it, whereas somebody else I know who watches practically all the same shows as I do quit after the first season (or maybe partway through the second) so it's not a show for everybody.
posted by sardonyx at 1:47 PM on July 25, 2016

It is (as you have probably seen yourself) very much a sort of cousin to Alan Ball's True Blood, not so much because of any similarity of tone or content, but because both shows take a late night cable schlock premise and then put terrifically talented actors, filmmakers, and writers to work towards making it be the most delicious, over-the-top embodiment of that premise as possible. True Blood did vampires, Banshee does Skinemax-era hoods with the attendant sex and violence. Banshee is differentiated not so much by when Ball drifted off (because it keeps the ethos he launched it with until the very end), but because it made a point of wrapping up before it wore out its welcome.

It's stupid tv for smart people.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 1:51 PM on July 25, 2016

season 1 - awesome, loved it.
season 2 - still pretty good.
season 3 - starts to slip.
season 4 - not exactly bad, but definitely well into the "hm, I guess I still want to see what happens since I already watched the rest" type territory. (is there a word for that?)

still, the very ending was decent, and I do appreciate them not dragging it out for 2 more seasons.

if you might also enjoy a show with a very similar premise, but much more comedy and way less gore and grit, I recommend Impastor.
posted by dorian at 2:32 PM on July 25, 2016

« Older Urine Luck   |   What's New In Philadelphia? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.