The Following

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TV Series Review

Ryan Hardy and Joe Carroll have a complicated relationship.

Hardy hates Carroll, and for the best of reasons. Carroll's a serial killer—a former literary professor who slaughtered beautiful co-eds as his twisted salute to Edgar Allan Poe. Hardy's the FBI agent who captured him (twice) and supposedly killed him off, but not before Carroll and members of his cult—his following—took away much of what Hardy loved, including his main squeeze, Claire. Carroll even managed to stab Hardy in the heart, forcing him out of active duty and necessitating a pacemaker. As such, Hardy's reminded of Carroll's evil with every beat of his telltale heart.

For Carroll, murder is a beauty sublime, a work of art. And Hardy, by his relentless pursuit, has incorporated himself into the man's terrible tapestry.

Now that Carroll's out of the picture (but not completely dead, as it were), his followers come to the fore, and they're equally disturbed and even more terrifying, especially considering their sheer ubiquity. Even as Carroll fell out of sight after Season One, the cult continued its leader's grim, sadistic work. It seems as though members' main purpose is no longer just to kill, but to draw out Carroll and tear down Hardy—mentally, emotionally and physically, if possible—and anyone else who might stand in their way.

Hardy now believes the only way to stop them is by working outside the confines of the FBI. He must destroy them himself.

The Following is a dark, taut crime thriller following the grotesque noir template perfected by The Silence of the Lambs. As such, it may also be one of the most disturbing shows to ever land on broadcast television.

This serial drama hasn't indulged in suits of human skin … yet. But the violence and brutality we see here is disturbingly close, in both measurable content and emotional shock, to what then-horrified moviegoers saw when the R-rated Silence of the Lambs was released in 1991. The difference between the two is only a matter of degree. We see mutilated bodies and blood-spattered walls. We hear the screams of innocents as their assailants hurt and kill them. So often this happens onscreen that at times it seems The Following shares Carroll's thrill of pain and appreciates his vision of creating "beauty" by way of brutality.

It punishes viewers for tuning in. Then, like a sadist luring a masochist, it hopes they will come back for more.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements

Conclusion

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

Authority Roles

Profanity/Violence

Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality

Awards

Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews

Following: 1-19-2014
Following: 1-21-2013

Credits

Rating

Readability Age Range

Genre

Drama, Crime

Author

Cast

Kevin Bacon as Ryan Hardy; James Purefoy as Joe Carroll; Shawn Ashmore as Mike Weston; Kyle Catlett as Joey Matthews; Natalie Zea as Claire Matthews; Annie Parisse as Debra Parker

Director

Distributor

Network

Fox

Performance

Record Label

Platform

Publisher

Released

Year Published

Reviewer

Paul Asay Paul Asay