Matt Zoller Seitz on today’s great era of TV direction:
Where’s their MoMA retrospective? Why is there no auteur theory of TV?
One explanation is that movies have a half-century head start on TV, so there’s been more time for critics to settle on terms and definitions. I like to tell people that TV, as both business and art, is at roughly the same place in its development as cinema was in the late fifties, around the time that the French floated the auteur theory. We’re still figuring out who the “author” is on TV shows. We’re still taking into account whether we’re talking about the show as a whole or a particular episode, and why. We rarely think of TV as being directed, unless the show’s main creative force has already been identified as a theatrical director (as David Lynch was before Twin Peaks) or doubles as the show’s star (like Louis C.K. or Lena Dunham).
I’ve become more aware of reoccurring TV directors on shows as varied as Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones and even New Girl. I know there’s a “voice” there, but I admit I rarely make a connection with what’s onscreen the way I do with a “name” film director. Seitz helps explain why.