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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

'Memphis Beat' Mis-Step

Last night I watched the premiere of Memphis Beat on TNT. The reviews I’ve read this morning were quite positive. I have a slightly different view.

There were some strong positives about the show: good visuals of Memphis, excellent use of Memphis music, and a great PSA about music from Memphis that you thought came from Detroit. My personal highlight was Alfre Woodard who played the new precinct lieutenant in this cop show. The core plot was interesting as well.

On the minus side, I groaned at a few over-the-top, melodramatic speeches like the one from the detective star of the show exhorting a group of uniformed officers before a neighborhood search: “Aren’t we all here because we love Memphis?” It was almost “Win one for the Gipper.”

Here’s my really big gripe about Memphis Beat. The show’s writers and producers apparently suffer from the delusion that all Southerners are hicks. I can’t recall a single character last night who spoke proper English. I blame the hick factor partially on the use of Jason Lee in the starring role who formerly played the title character in My Name is Earl, a program that would be listed under the definition of “redneck.”

It’s a sad commentary on the prejudice that still exists about Southerners and the South. May I point out that many great writers came from the South: William Faulkner, Flannery O’Connor, John Grisham. FedEx originated in Memphis. Holiday Inns was born here. The South produces literate, talented people. Perhaps the Memphis Beat writers should break through the negative stereotype while still portraying the charm of the region.

If that can happen, Memphis Beat might even become popular in Memphis.

1 comment:

Scarlett said...

Here's an interesting review from the Memphis Flyer.