Writer, There’s A Fly In My Fly Soup
After the guests of Westworld get done shooting their guns and blowing their loads we’re shown how a team of technicians has to strike the set and take a wire brush to clean out the detritus of this dream vacation. Just like the folks that write about TV each Monday morning. Or maybe Ed Harris’ Man In Black is a better analogy? Re-capers determined to find a seam and slip through the narrative to find “the right” answers to questions the show isn’t even asking. One critic I usually enjoy seemed to be upset that Westworld had too much of “The West” in it. That’s like being mad that the bagel place doesn’t serve sushi.
I used to really enjoy reading about television. Praise be to Sepinwall and all but Westworld seems to have removed what little value that kind of writing ever had. If you’ve followed Chris and Jonathan Nolan’s career Westworld is a continuation of the work they’ve always done. The same themes, ideas, and problems show up in their work over and over again. The Nolans love to build worlds and ask questions but they don’t seem to be particularly interested in filling those world’s with real people and real answers. This is why your cousin on Reddit loves their work but you aunt who teaches English doesn’t care.
If Westworld exists as a place where everything looks and feels real enough that you’re able to ignore the man inside The Mechanical Turk and just play chess, then Westworld the show exists as a place that looks and feels real enough that I’m able to ignore the Nolan inside of it and enjoy my Sunday. I think that’s the thing that drives me crazy about the voluminous writing the show has generated. As good as it is, the show’s code still has all the usual bugs and glitches you find in the Nolan’s programs.
Characters with no function other than exposition, a tin ear for music cues, occasionally inaudible dialogue, and sex seems to only exist as something ruinous akin to a slasher flick. Violence in the Nolan’s world is the only answer to the myriad of questions they love to raise without ever actually answering anything. Goddamn though, the production design is always on point. It sure looks real even if it doesn’t feel like it.
I may not want to live in a Nolan universe but like the guests of Westworld I’m happy to visit. And that’s the Nolan conundrum, fully realized worlds with half-realized people. Like the hosts on Westworld characters in the Nolan’s work only exist because the story needs them to. And I think that’s where all these folks complaining about dongs, writing 1K words when a meme would suffice, or just bitching that Westworld is full of cowboys are coming from. When The Nolan’s build these impossible spaces viewers can’t help but fill them up with their own ideas. Which should be a credit to dem’ Nolan boys and not a demerit.
If you tell yourself that you’re a critic, I guess you probably should be critical. Westworld seems to generate a thing that isn’t criticism and is closer to what you see from fans of comics, wrestling, and soap operas. Instead of writing about what happened so much of their writing is about what they wanted to have happened. Westworld isn’t a bad show because the story isn’t what you would’ve done. Someone going right when you would’ve gone left isn’t a criticism. That’s fan fiction and should be on Tumblr where it belongs. Go “ship” somewhere else.
Just five episodes in, writers seem to demand that Westworld answer every question and tick every box. I’m so sorry Lost hurt you but that is a good way to ensure you won’t ever enjoy the show. I understand the economy of television writing requires constant posts and clicks. Writers gotta write to eat but Westworld may not have enough meat on the bone for a full meal. And even if it does I think it behooves you to review you meal you had not the one you wish was served.