Historically speaking, TV series that focus on writers have not yielded particularly fruitful episodes, and have often been cancelled pretty early on. Sure, Sex and the City lasted for quite some time, but that had less to do with writing and everything to do with the relationship between the quartet of New York City-based women at its center. Writing isn’t particularly interesting to watch on screen, especially if the writing for the show in question isn’t particularly imaginative .
So, my hopes are not particularly high for what’s on display in the first trailer for Will, TNT’s new drama focused on the life of a young, bright-eyed, bushy-tailed William Shakespeare (Laurie Davidson) in London as he begins to write his famed plays. The idea of trying to make Shakespeare sexy and inspiring, as the series clearly wants to do, is generally unpalatable to me, and the fact that the series is pulling a Knight’s Tale on us, adding a contemporary soundtrack to the period setting, does not help matters. That was a gimmick that barely worked in A Knight’s Tale, and was only truly galvanizing in Sofia Coppola‘s brilliant Marie Antoinette, wherein 1980s songs criticizing affluence were set against the preposterous wealth of the titular character’s lifestyle.
If the meaning here is to match Shakespeare’s use of language to modern hip-hop, soul, and alternative pop’s sense of wordplay and rhythmic chanting or yelps, it should be the characters themselves that utilize the style, not simply the soundtrack. There’s a certain emptiness, a half-assed flippancy to lazily making the connection in such a detached way, and it makes what might have otherwise been a passable drama into a desperate ploy to attain some shallow hipness. There’s a love story too, of course, and there seems to be plenty of nonsense about the violence and corruption of the theater scene in Shakespeare’s days, which is all fine and interesting, but coming from the screenwriter who tried to update The Great Gatsby with Jay-Z and Lana Del Rey on the soundtrack, it’s not easy to keep hope alive for this one.
Here’s the trailer for Will: