I have little to say about Containment, the new American drama series that premiered on E4 earlier tonight other than how mind-numbingly predictable it is. Like the majority of American drama (that I devote such little of my time to anyway), Containment is a mishmash of tastelessly sensationalist storylines and naff acting. The premise? An epidemic in Atlanta sees crazed infected patients spreading their diseases around the city. It’s essentially a zombie series with a lot less thrill.
The pilot episode catapults us immediately into action; we see the American military in disarray, desperately trying to control a panicked Atlanta (half of which seems to have been infected by a mysterious disease). Shots are fired left, right and centre, yet little progress is made in the way of controlling those infected. So far, so predictable. We are then sent back in time, presumably to observe the beginning of the epidemic. Naturally, feeble attempts at character development are made by actors we’d seen earlier freaking out in the face of gunfire and zombies. In a hospital, we are shown the cause of the drama, and how depressingly convenient it is that “patient zero” is a Syrian refugee living illegally in the United States (I’m sure Donald Trump loves this show). A doctor charged with treating the refugee also contracts the disease and ends up throwing herself against the walls of quarantine whilst blood sprays dramatically from all of her facial orifices. This scene was so ridiculously theatrical that it was almost offensive.
The narrative through which we see the progression of the virus is largely dominated by a few main characters: a school teacher and her class of elementary students, a police officer and his on/off girlfriend, and a pregnant shop-assistant. Through a combination of bad acting and writing, viewers invest less interest in the characters’ fates as they typically would were this a better thriller.
Although I do often find American drama hit-and-miss, there have been a few exceptions. American Crime Story is one of the best TV shows I’ve seen this year and House of Cards remains one of my all-time favourites. It’s such a shame that we have to deal with crass dramas like Containment when there are clearly much better shows that America have to offer. Perhaps one of the major British channels ought to look into investing in a programme similar to Channel 4’s Walter Presents that selects only the best American TV to be broadcast in Britain. Until then, I think I’m going to give American imports a rest. If Containment is anything to go by, then American TV just isn’t for me.