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Welcome to Episode 142 of TV’s Top 5, The Hollywood Reporter’s TV podcast.
Every week, hosts Lesley Goldberg (West Coast TV editor) and Daniel Fienberg (chief TV critic) break down the latest TV news with context from the business and critical sides, welcome showrunners, executive and other guests, and provide a critical guide of what to watch (or skip, as the case may be).
This week, we’re breaking our format and instead leaning hard into Spooky SZN for a roundtable discussion about the state of horror on television with the showrunners from AMC’s The Walking Dead (Angela Kang), USA/Syfy’s Chucky (Don Mancini) and Amazon’s I Know What You Did Last Summer (Sara Goodman).
The hourlong conversation, which takes the place of our first three topics this week, also delves into the use of horror as a metaphor for tumultuous times. “A lot of people like the metaphors hidden,” Goodman says. “Some want [horror] as an escape. But it’s always been there. That’s what it’s for — to tell stories about characters and things relevant in our world that are horrifying in ways that are hidden and fun. And to fool you into thinking you’re just being entertained.”
For Chucky, the openly gay Mancini says he leaned hard into queer themes with the spinoff TV series after initially exploring those subjects with subtext. “You do run the risk of alienating some of the audience,” he says. “There are members of the horror audience that more conservatively minded. I do hear from young, queer fans telling me how much not only Chucky meant to them and gay characters but how the genre always felt welcoming to them.”
In terms of the boundaries of how far to go with gore and violence, veteran Walking Dead showrunner Kang — who has been with the series since its early days — says it depends on if the character in the crosshairs is a hero or villain. “When we’re killing a villain, everyone wants to see die, we go with gore,” Kang notes. “When it’s our human heroes killing zombies, we go all out. In our show, we’re trying to remind viewers that the zombies were once humans with feelings and lives. But sometimes it’s satisfying to watch the monsters die.”
Tune in below to hear more from Kang, Mancini and Goodman about crafting storylines that need to both satisfy weekly viewers as well as those who binge a season in one sitting, plus conversations about tone when your lead character is a terrifying doll or when it’s unclear who the heroes and villains actually are, as is the case with Last Summer.
Hear it all now on TV’s Top 5. Be sure to subscribe to the podcast to never miss an episode. (Reviews welcome!) You can also email us with any topics or Mailbag questions you’d like to be addressed in future episodes at TVsTop5@THR.com.
Coming next week: Dexter showrunner Clyde Phillips joins the podcast to discuss the Showtime revival and the future of the beloved (save for that lumberjack finale) franchise.
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