Note: This is something a little new that I typically don’t do on this blog site, but I honestly couldn’t think of another site I have where I can publish this.
There have been a lot of articles written in the recent past by people who have decided to stop watching shows like Game Of Thrones. This is normally because they feel convicted by certain things they’re seeing onscreen while watching the episodes (which, in the case of GOT, I’ve heard more than enough to know to stay as far away from that show as possible). I’m going to explain why I’ve just recently decided to stop watching an ongoing show called Gotham.
To start off, for those of you who don’t know what Gotham is exactly, it is a show that airs on FOX that is set in Gotham City from the DC Universe. It takes place long before Bruce Wayne becomes the Batman and is essentially meant to tell the origin stories of Batman’s greatest enemies like the Penguin and the Riddler (although technically, the Penguin becomes the Penguin, like, after the pilot episode, so yeah). It is meant to show the state of Gotham City to emphasize why the city really needs a hero like Batman, and we’re seeing it all through the eyes of Detective Jim Gordon before his days as commissioner of the GCPD.
So with that, let’s get into the details. For one, I’d like to point out that this show is TV-14, a stark difference from the TV-MA rating like Game of Thrones has. Over the past few years however, I’ve learned that the TV-14 rating can, in many cases, be the equivalent of a light R rating from a film perspective. In the case of this show, this would indeed have a light R rating if it was a movie.
This show has been going on for a season and a half now, and while the first season was fairly held back in terms of content with the exception of a few moments here and there, the second season has been one string of senselessly violent sequences that almost never ends. Limbs are hacked off, people are stabbed repeatedly, blown up, and set on fire with shockingly very little censorship in the process. The more graphic violence is off-screen just barely enough simply so that the show can maintain its TV-14 rating. Some particularly gory moments in recent episodes (yes, spoilers technically ahead) is when the Penguin stabs a woman repeatedly in the chest as she screams (it’s behind a door with a shaded window, but we still see enough and hear enough to comprehend the terror of the moment), a cannibal who works as a hired assassin bites into a female officer’s neck and keeps tearing until she dies while her fellow officers are trying desperately to get him off of her, and a man’s arm is chopped off as punishment for something that I don’t really remember nor do I care to remember and we see the bloody stump where his arm used to be. These are just to name a few. Violence is something that remains a subject of deep debate regarding its role in storytelling and entertainment. Sometimes violence can actually be used to great effect in a story to send an important message across. Most of the violence in Gotham however, never feels like its there for anything except to be complete shock value. A lot of times, there’s no point to it. It’s easy to tell when violence in a show has meaning and when it’s just shock value, and the latter is what I’ve felt all the time with Gotham. Yes, bad guys do bad things, but how many times do we have to see it happen before the writers feel like we’ve seen enough to get the point? They haven’t reached that point yet apparently.
I understand the universe of Batman is a dark one, but remember Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy? I remember very little blood in those movies. In fact, Nolan was much more focused on telling a deep and sometimes thought-provoking story without the use of graphic violence to try and get the point across, and whenever there was violence, it was used sometimes in a pretty powerful way that prompted emotion.
Unfortunately, I’m not done. The second thing about this show that’s made me decide to stop is its portrayal of women. Most women in this show are either mentally insane, always getting abducted and can barely defend themselves, or are simply there to be eye candy. While there are very few actual sex scenes and little nudity here, enough bare skin can be seen to make me feel uncomfortable, especially being that it’s in a setting where the people are real. Jim’s ex-girlfriend Barbara is a psychopath obsessed with getting married to Jim, but has no problem sleeping around with both men and women that are willing to have her. One of the women she encounters is the sister of the current central villain, whose only motivation is to kill, and get jealous when she sees Barbara making out with her brother. Most of the random women we see in the background are typically prostitutes or strippers, and the camera makes sure to take its time lingering on those poses. Again, there is no real value or meaning to this. There are some women in my life that I consider to be fantastic and talented people, and I would honestly feel ashamed if they watched this show with me, so with that in consideration, neither do I feel that I should watch it.
Gotham is absolutely not nearly as terrible in terms of content as a show like Game of Thrones is, but it has enough for me to say ‘no’, and for good reason. If you watch this show and you don’t feel convicted by it like I do, I’m not trying to discourage you from watching it. Everybody has their own different set of convictions. In my case, Gotham isn’t for me. While a few good things stand out to me in this show like Sean Pertwee’s performance as Bruce’s beloved butler Alfred and Robin Lord Taylor’s performance as the Penguin, they still don’t justify the content. Any morals that the writers try to insert into the show are drowned out by the content and even normally feels heavy-handed to begin with, as if they’re almost an afterthought to try and give this show heart. Batman, I don’t care that you’re Batman, this show is not for me.