Tuesday, November 6, 2012

TV Shows for Reactionaries

One of the more tiresome aspects of Hollywood is its seemingly incessant preachiness. Whether it's a barbarian from a distant fantasy land in an alternate universe, or a failing university student traveling through alternate worlds, it always seems to be the goal of Hollywood characters to promote Democraceh across the multiverse. The spread of communism is inevitable, comrades!

So when a show (inadvertently, in this case) seems to forget entirely that it's a mouthpiece for the party line, it's pretty refreshing, even if the show isn't top quality.

The one-season wonder Kings that ran on NBC in 2009 is an example of this. Set in an alternate present, Kings is essentially an homage to the biblical story of King David. The country of Gilboa has recently coalesced in the past two decades from warring city-state kingdoms. King Silas is, well, the King, and we mean it. Curiously, where most Hollywood writers would have the modern-analogue country be run like an absolute monarchy, but officially be a democracy or republic or whatever, Michael Green skips all that nonsense and instead we have an absolute monarchy, set in a modern, New York-like city, (which the king commissioned in the last decade or so, no less!), running the country pretty much how you or I would run the country.

There's drama, such as when the King's primary financier pulls all the royal funds, but the King handles things like, well, a king. We have no scenes of tyranny or brutality (there is an incident where a region rebels instead of accepting being handed over to a Republic of Gath as a result of peace negotiations), no glaring irresponsibility, and no scenes where the King hammily cries "UNLIMITED POWAAAAAHHHH!"

The plot of the show revolves around David Shepherd, a Captain in the Gilboan army, who has the good luck to be caught on tape destroying a "Goliath" tank (which looks suspiciously like a T-55), and is assimilated into the court for propaganda purposes. David's character is fairly wooden, but the internal politics of the regime are what's most interesting about the show.

Now, Kings isn't a great show. It's pretty soapy, and sometimes you don't really care what's going on, but if you're even a little bit on the Dark Side, it's worth watching a few episodes just to grin at one of the few examples of monarchy as effective contemporary governance in fiction that I've seen treated seriously in probably the last century.

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