While there have been stellar shows depicting real-life events -- from Chernobyl to Unbelievable to When They See Us -- the many recent TV docudramas may be diluting our perception of reality, says Judy Berman. "Such blurring of fact and fiction is endemic on TV these days, thanks to a spike in the production of docudramas, many of which center on larger-than-life newsmakers," says Berman. "Along with Super Pumped (premiering Feb. 27), 2022 has already brought ABC’s civil rights drama Women of the Movement, Hulu’s sex-tape saga Pam & Tommy, and Shonda Rhimes‘ Netflix miniseries on the rise and fall of 'Soho Grifter' Anna Delvey, Inventing Anna. Hulu is getting ready to unveil its Elizabeth Holmes portrait The Dropout on the same day, March 3, that Peacock drops Tiger King retelling Joe vs. Carole. Before the spring is out, we’ll also have docudramas on WeWork (Apple’s WeCrashed), the ’80s Lakers (HBO’s Winning Time), killer Pam Hupp (NBC’s The Thing About Pam), Michelle Carter’s texting-suicide case (Hulu’s The Girl From Plainville), Watergate (Starz’s Gaslit), and the making of The Godfather (The Offer on Paramount+). As tends to be the case in the current, streaming-driven era of rampant programming overlap that I’ve been calling peak redundancy, there are too many of these shows, covering too many of the same subjects: tech, scammers, crime, sexual politics. With effects-heavy franchises starting to crowd out realism on the small screen, as they’ve already done in movies, docudrama has become the genre of choice for platforms looking to combine the character-driven storytelling of prestige TV with enough brand recognition to guarantee an audience. It’s a shrewd choice, financially. Creatively, however, the returns are already diminishing. And at a time when misinformation keeps sowing confusion over what is fact and what is fiction, the prevalence of docudramas threatens to further muddy the distinction."
TOPICS: Super Pumped: The Battle for Uber, The Dropout, Gaslit, The Girl From Plainville, Inventing Anna, Joe vs. Carole, The Offer, Pam & Tommy, The Thing About Pam, Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty, Women of the Movement, Peak TV, Prestige TV