Archives For Tiny Furniture

If there’s anything that last night’s episode of Girls proved, it’s that Judd Apatow‘s true home is television. The writer/producer/director is famous for The 40 Year-Old Virgin and Knocked Up, but his roots are in programs like The Ben Stiller Show, The Larry Sanders Show and Freaks and Geeks. Now, I love what Apatow has been exploring with film. He’s made some great movies himself, and though they’re flawed, films like Funny People are remarkably honest comedies. Girls, the show created by Lena Dunham, is Apatow’s first foray into TV since Undeclared in 2001. While Lena Dunham is clearly the creative mastermind behind the show, one look back at Tiny Furniture reveals a slightly different sensibility at work in her newest venture.

The most recent episode, ‘The Return’, makes it obvious that the Apatow style has bled into Dunham’s work. First of all, the episode lists Apatow as a co-writer, which is signal enough, but that also shines a light on Apatow’s influence as a producer on the rest of the series. While I did enjoy Tiny Furniture a good deal, it suffered from an overriding air of melancholy. Not necessarily a bad thing, but it made the film feel like it was taking itself ever so slightly too seriously. Judd Apatow’s work has always had hints of melancholy, yet he always balanced that out with goofiness to bring out honesty in his characters instead of depressing self-indulgence. This is what he brings to Girls and it’s reminded me how much I’d love to see him make TV his focus again. Click to read more.

I’ve seen a lot of discussion recently about whether this New Golden Age of TV has surpassed cinema as the best, most important mass art form. I can understand the arguments. While I don’t think there have been nearly as many great TV series as there have been films, the great TV shows of late have been quite extraordinary. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a film that did for me what HBO’s The Wire did. There wasn’t a single film last year that had me gasping for air like Breaking Bad‘s fourth season. Neither of these comparison’s are fair, though. First of all, these shows are exceptional. They’re also long form fiction, which allows much more time to build stories and develop characters. Film just can’t do that, but it does do other things well. There’s a benefit in the short form. The precision of storytelling in film almost always surpasses what’s possible in a TV series over multiple episodes.

Arguing which format is better is essentially pointless. We can all agree that they’re both capable of greatness. That said, that movies and TV are very different doesn’t mean they have nothing to learn from each other. I think that TV has done a great job of adapting the qualities of cinema. Shows look grander and more cinematic, a direct result of widescreen and HD. Series have also become more serialized, which isn’t really a cinematic technique, but the approach of essentially making a movie that happens to be cut up into 10-20 hourlong acts is distinctly a response to how films are crafted. Click to read more.