Pretty little thing. And apparently forgettable.
Did you ever see the Miami Vice remake, the one with Jamie Foxx and Colin Farrell? Graceland is kinda like that. Pretty locales, pretty people. High color saturation mixed with stylized, washed-out looks. Slow, dialogue-free moments to express mood. Law enforcement is definitely involved. Personal lives as well. Also a plot of some sort – I think drugs? In both cases, it’s not that important.
For you see, shows like Graceland and movies like Miami Vice Redux: This Time It’s Something are not created to inform our understanding of the subject matter, nor add to the body aesthetic in ways that deepen the human experience. Graceland exists because there is a space between CBS’s pulp procedurals and NBC’s sharp pseudo-intellectualism, between FX’s gritty-yet-sanitized noir and the CW’s brand of titillation for youth group teens that don’t yet know what titillation can mean.
That space is USA. And it’s where ‘soulful’ happens.
When you place a group of hot, young undercover agents into the southern California sun and surf and ask them to take down bad guys by day they have no choice – none! – but to unwind each night with introspection about the duality of their lives, the ways in which The Job takes precedence over the families they have or the connections they want. For further evidence, just look – gaze! – at Daniel Sunjata (photo provided above). Those eyes. That scruff. Yes, he wears that jacket in the show and, yes, it manages to hang open in that very same casual manner while he dialogues about the nature of goodness in people.
All this undercover-ing and dialoguing could play out in a watchable yet forgettable movie. Instead it’s happening, 13 episodes at a time, in a watchable yet largely forgettable television show. Somehow, probably by dint of having an ensemble of attractive crimefighters, Graceland escapes the stunning1 genericism of The Glades, which managed to last four seasons. I thought drift of that length was only possible if your show’s title was an acronym.
So when the start of Graceland‘s second season appeared in my queue, I spoke the words that give this post its title and settled in to watch cops and crooks and sun-bleached beauty. Graceland has succeeded on one significant front – it matches what happens on screen with what should be happening in your living room. This is a summer show, meant to be watched after a day at the beach or working hard with friends, then everyone cracks open a beer and half pays attention to what’s going on. Years from now no one will remember what got discussed on the couch, or on the TV.
Just that stuff happened and, man… (staring off thoughtfully into the middle distance) sometimes that’s all you need, y’know?
- And yet briefly watchable ↵