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Avant-garde television series?

Discussion in 'Tilted Entertainment' started by wye, Apr 17, 2017.

  1. wye

    wye Getting Tilted

    How many artsy, experimental tv series can you name? How watchable do you find them?
    I think two of the most crafty and unconventional tv series of this decade have been:

    The Booth at the End - the plot of this fantasy drama is presented entirely through conversations between characters sharing a diner booth
    Inside No. 9 - each episode of this anthology series takes place in a single room, house, or small space and features its two writers playing radically different characters from one episode to the next

    What else do you think belongs on this list? What about tv series that were subversive at the time they were made but today seem ordinary?
  2. redravin

    redravin Cynical Optimist

    Twin Peaks
    American Horror Story
    Black Mirror
    Wildmermaid likes this.
  3. Chris Noyb

    Chris Noyb Get in, buckle up, hang on, & don't criticize.

    Large City, TX
    I've put his thread on watch.

    If you want to go way, way back, The Twilight Zone was pretty radical (I wouldn't say avant-garde) at the time when the original series was introduced. Aliens, secret government organizations, involuntary participation in psychological experiments, etc.


    Twin Peaks. I've read reports that David Lynch bailed out of the TV series after only four episodes into season one, but the network kept that a secret (well, as much as possible in show biz).
    Wildmermaid likes this.
  4. wye

    wye Getting Tilted

    Maybe you misheard some news from the upcoming limited event series. Lynch considered bailing on it but ultimately didn't. The original Twin Peaks is a notable for being a seminal presenter of surrealism on television. It was far from the first, The Prisoner (1967-69) having similarly become increasingly surreal by its conclusion, and Monty Python's Flying Circus (1969-74) having popularized surrealist sketch comedy on television. I think Lynch's webseries Rabbits--a dark parody of the sitcom genre--is more avant-garde, though the parody genre overall is nothing new.

    I haven't seen American Horror Story but am aware it's an anthology series and that it tells one story a season like Skins. Is there anything else unusual about it compared with other horror series?

    The Twilight Zone and Black Mirror are both revolutionary due to the subjects of their imaginative stories. Some episodes of each are very avant-garde, while others aren't, so I don't consider either series itself very avant-garde. The anthology series format was popular since the dawn of television history, and neither TTZ or BM changed that format across their episodes.
    Wildmermaid, rogue49 and Chris Noyb like this.
  5. Chris Noyb

    Chris Noyb Get in, buckle up, hang on, & don't criticize.

    Large City, TX
    I read that about Lynch re the original Twin Peaks TV series; whether or not it's true I have no idea.
    Wildmermaid likes this.
  6. wye

    wye Getting Tilted

    Okay. As far as I can tell, it's false. Lynch directed and co-wrote the season two premiere and directed the series finale.

    I want to mention another tv series that's not experimental in every episode but has some surrealist scenes that stand out due to how they're incorporated into a conventional serial narrative. In the comedy series Louie, the affective experiences of the titular protagonist and occasionally a secondary character are externalized and depicted on screen as dramatic manifestations of their individual imaginations.

    An example from the first episode:

    From the eighth episode:

    And from the season four premiere:

    Additionally, the third season guest stars David Lynch as a show business veteran named Jack Dall.
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2017
    rogue49 likes this.
  7. hiredgun01

    hiredgun01 New Member

    New York
    I'd highly recommend The Leftovers, which just began its third and final season. The premise of the show is that a few years ago (in the show's timeline), roughly 2% of the world's population simply vanished, instantaneously. The show is about how human beings try to cope and continue living in the face of not only their personal trauma, but the deeper loss of the sense that the world is well-ordered and knowable. Unsurprisingly, the show ends up being in part about religious faith.

    That description may not sound particularly avant-garde. Well, the show gets... weird. It's not always clear what's real. I think it qualifies. :)
    Chris Noyb likes this.
  8. wye

    wye Getting Tilted

    I have been aware of The Leftovers as "that show about the rapture" but the way you describe it makes it sound more interesting. I recently read a science-fiction novel involving that theme of epistemic doubt, The Three-Body Problem.

    Has anyone here seen Mr. Robot? I'm considering watching it, and I think that it too features an unreliable narrator.
  9. redravin

    redravin Cynical Optimist


    A very unreliable narrator but of the most accurate depictions of what hacking really looks like (a lot of sitting and waiting, social engineering, etc.)
    It's really well done.

    Along those lines I'd put Orphan Black.
    Wildmermaid and rogue49 like this.
  10. rogue49

    rogue49 Tech Kung Fu Artist Staff Member Donor

    Mr. Robot is excellent.
    Technically well done, they know their skills.
    However it's a challenge to know what's real or not, as with other past shows.
    Not only is the protagonist messing with his own mind (perhaps on purpose??),
    but there's a serious multi-player conspiracy going on.

    One old-time one that people forget was U.F.O.
    Beyond than just the cool sci-fi toys, some of the plots got twisted.
    And the styling was considered "hip" and futuristic at the time.
    Wildmermaid likes this.
  11. redravin

    redravin Cynical Optimist

    I'd say American Gods fits into this category but since it is a cable show it can do things that regular TV can't and find a niche audience, still being successful.
    The show is pretty amazing.
    Sense8 I've talked about before other places, also a cable show.
    Wildmermaid likes this.