'The Following' Season Finale: Crime Shows Are Too True to Life


The Following season one finale is Monday evening. Without question, this show distinguishes itself from other crime dramas. The premise of the show centers around a serial killer, Joe Carroll, and an FBI agent who brought him down once before, Ryan Hardy. Kevin Bacon plays Ryan Hardy in his first series role. Between the two men sits Carroll's ex wife Claire, who also had a brief affair with Hardy.

But all this aside, the eerie premise of the show revolves around the idea of a serial killer with a massive cult following. It's frightening, spine tingling, and above all, too close for comfort. Watching this show feels like viewing actual crime scene footage. The general theme of the show feels foreign on first glance, but all too true to life after closer examination. This is more than fiction.

The show is intriguing and it has been all season. Crime dramas are able to capture the attention of an audience since the killer is always within an arm's length. But he's usually one step ahead of law enforcement making for exciting entertainment. To say an audience does not love the idea of solving crimes is ridiculous. It's the thrill of the chase that keeps an audience coming back.

But the one disturbing element within The Following is the cult of followers willing to die for the leader, the original serial killer. Not only are they willing to die for him, they are willing to kill as he killed, stroke for stroke, methodically, like zombies. In the pilot episode alone there was a barrage of corpses and a woman who comes in with creepy writing all over her body. Then in an act of devotion to Joe Carroll, she stabs herself in the eye and dies.

This scene marked subsequent episodes. But is this all too much for network television? The answer to this question is technically no. Most television shows today are marked by violent imagery. American Horror Story is a lot bloodier than The Following. If someone is bothered by the scenes, one can always turn the channel.

However, having said this, what is unnerving about The Following is the concept of devotion and the subsequent worship of a mass murderer. Serial killer centered TV shows and movies are pop culture staples. They're everywhere and not going away anytime soon.

But after the bombings in Boston, the whole concept of killing and mayhem is hitting a deep, raw nerve. Fictional criminals and real criminals feel like one and the same. Terrorists and fanatical serial killers are animals cut from the same cloth. Death is the end game, the goal.

So as the season finale airs, the audience will decide if they will continue watching The Following when it returns next season. With life imitating art so much in this world, it's difficult to stomach continual violence. But at the same time, it's hard to not get caught up in the game of cat and mouse.