|from the trailer for season 4 of The Americans
Current great television dramas are dark. We don’t just mean in terms of content, like Mr. Robot or the extremely tense The Americans. They are, literally, dark.
Vulture‘s Kathryn VanArendonk wrote a great column about this phenomenon and how this impacts our perception of the shows. VanArendonk compares Halt and Catch Fire and Silicon Valley: both shows are set in the same sunny California region, but because Halt and Catch Fire looks constantly gloomier even in daytime, it registers as a more serious show. This problem compounds itself. We associate bright colors with comedy, and so dramas are rarely brightly colored anymore. Compare this with Mad Men even a few years ago – or any of the USA Network’s former crime shows with extremely bright skies.
This seems like a problem from the same well as the orange-and-teal color correction of blockbuster movies. Audiences want dramas and comedies, and the presentation of those genres becomes polarized and exaggerated.