Primer: Here’s where to start with the scary specter of TV horror series
Primer is The A.V. Club‘s ongoing series of beginners’ guides to pop culture’s most notable subjects: filmmakers, music styles, literary genres, and whatever else interests us—and hopefully you. This installment: The wide-ranging world of horror on TV.
For decades, horror was the thing you were least likely to see on your TV. It came and went sporadically, occasionally with success, but more often it disappeared like a vanquished spirit. Part of the problem is the commercial break. More than any other emotion, fear needs to sustain tension to be effective. Anxiety over who the bachelor is going to choose in the final rose ceremony can be maintained during ads for Selsun Blue, because The Bachelor doesn’t need to keep viewers at the same emotional pitch in order to pull them back into its world. Fear requires momentum—when the pacing is broken, the …