Please note that song only takes 68 seconds. Now THAT is some filmmaking economy.

And I say this as someone who enjoys music. Why, sometimes I even enjoy music and television together. But when you allocate a significant portion of your show to a solemn dirge from some coffeehouse gremlin, it starts to feel like a very big crutch. Even worse, it’s wholly unnecessary for a drama like The Americans, which already does such a good job establishing suspense and unease on its own. The music, which is meant to raise the emotional stakes, often ends up taking me out of the story instead. This is especially true when a montage that could take two minutes takes eight instead. Extra demerits if that shit is a cover song. I’ve heard the Gary Jules version of “Mad World” more than I’ve heard my own children speak.

There are a million different ways to tell a story, and Lord knows music can be a grand and wondrous way of doing it. I’m also keenly aware that churning out episodes of a television series is a real bitch to do, and you gotta break it up somehow. My issue is that too many shows now deploy music in the same way. While The Americans finale included a critical moment set to music, most of the time the showrunner is using music as a way to brandish his/her good taste, all while showing people being very sad and pensive either after something bad happens or before something bad either does or does not happen.


But you know what isn’t happening during many of those sequences? The story itself. So get the fuck back to the dialogue already.