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Evil Cast.png

Streaming Platforms Give Shows like 'Evil' The Room To Be Horny And Weird And We Love It

By Jen Maravegias | TV | July 9, 2024 |

By Jen Maravegias | TV | July 9, 2024 |


Evil Cast.png

I look at streaming services the same way I look at charter schools. The money and effort that could have been put into fixing the linear TV landscape got siphoned off into streaming. So now linear TV is broken, no one is regulating streaming services, the prices are out of control, and the ads are annoying. Good job all around, everyone!

Occasionally, streaming services come through to save a show that deserves more attention than it got on a broadcast network or to offer a home to a show that needs the freedom of streaming to realize its full potential. The move can allow writers to develop characters more naturally and take more interesting risks with storylines.

Evil is one of those shows. When it first aired on CBS, I thought it was corny. Trying to fit a Baphomet-shaped peg into a Crime Procedural-shaped hole wasn’t doing Evil any favors. Dustin’s early reviews prompted me to give it a second look during the pandemic. I gave in to enjoying it while still wanting more from it. More boundaries pushed, more weirdness, more chaos demon energy. I finally started getting that when the show moved to Paramount+.

The most realistic change has been that the characters can curse freely now. It always takes me out of the story when adult reactions to incredibly weird or fucked up events are edited for television. Katja Herbers’ Kristen Bouchard dropping F-bombs feels right. My mother would never. But my mother isn’t tracking demon activity on behalf of the Catholic church.

Think about what’s happening in Kristen’s life just this season alone. Her husband, who only recently returned from his mountain-climbing adventures, has been institutionalized because her arch-nemesis, Leland Townsend (Michael Emerson), put him under some sort of mind-controlling demonic spell that he mentally fought against until it broke his brain.

Meanwhile, Kristen’s estranged mother, Sheryl (Christine Lahti), sneaks back into her life by manipulating The Bouchard Daughters with an adorable baby who needs care. Whose baby is it? Well, that’s complicated. The baby came from Kristen’s stolen embryo, was birthed by a surrogate on Leland’s payroll, and is now in Sheryl’s care because Hell Inc. is staffed by incompetent idiots who may be able to put a curse on you but don’t know how to change a diaper. Oh and also, the baby is the Anti-Christ. And it might need to eat Kristen to thrive.

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This season, which may be its final, has given us episodes about possessed pork products, werewolves, traveling through underground tunnels in the Vatican to identify a piece of the One True Cross, a coven of Ballerina Witches, and a haunted train. That’s on top of the unresolved sexual tension between Kristen and Father David (Mike Colter). And a tricky demon that followed Ben (Aasif Mandvi) out of a haunted particle accelerator that may or may not exist. The philosophical and spiritual questions this show wrestles with every week are lightened with humor and the absurdity of it all. These three skeptics keep hitting roadblocks that challenge their ideology and faith (or lack thereof). Nevertheless, they persist in attempting to explain the unexplainable.

These are all things that could have been part of a run on a broadcast network. Buffy and Supernatural broke that ground. But a lot of it that would be a hard sell to the NCIS crowd. Memaw and PopPop would have been scandalized by the idea of Kristen and Father Acosta having sexual fantasies about each other, forget about possessed breakfast meat.

Leaning into weirdness and horniness is a great move for shows like Evil and Lucifer. Even though there are distinct crime-procedural patterns they follow, they can’t take themselves, or their subject matter too seriously. These shows need to be fun and sexy to keep us coming back.

Lucifer started on Fox, which was weird to begin with for the most handsome devil who was DTF. Its last two seasons found a home on Netflix and there was much rejoicing because everyone was horny for Tom Ellis.

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Sometimes, the freedom is too much for a show to handle. And, like a kid going to college, everything goes off the rails when it’s revived on a streaming service. This is what happened to Criminal Minds.

Criminal Minds spent 15 years on CBS scaring people with the idea that serial killers were using America like a free-range hunting ground every week. It fell into a trap of its own making. If you start with an idea as big as “how many terrifying ways can you be murdered by sociopathic randos” there’s not a lot of room to grow. You have to get more and more outrageous until your plots become implausible to your audience.

It ended its network run in 2020 and was brought back last year on Paramount+. The first season of Criminal Minds: Revolution was a season-long arc of hunting a specific serial killer, during which we dove into the private and personal lives of TV’s favorite FBI profilers. Now, we know too much. Sure, it’s fun to know what a horndog Penelope really is, but they’ve definitely crossed the line this season with behavior that HR would have a problem with. The storyline, the part about criminal minds, is almost impossible to follow. There’s too much going on and too much exposition involved. A lot of fans were excited about Criminal Minds return on streaming, but ultimately, it’s a letdown. Not unlike Veronica Mars’ 2019 return on Hulu.

Plenty of shows have migrated platforms without issues or drastic changes. Longmire is an excellent example of that. You could hardly notice the difference when the series moved from A&E to Netflix. It finished its six-season run on the streaming service, generally leaving its audience satisfied with the way the story wrapped. Except for about six minutes towards the end of the last episode I think we all could have done without. But that’s not Netflix’s fault.

Streaming can’t save everything. It can give a good show a chance to be great, or give it enough rope to hang itself, possibly as part of erotic foreplay.