I Saw the TV Glow Review | Bare Inclusion

Movies that offer leading roles and plot focused on underrepresented people and cultures are a must in Hollywood. However, these movies also need to be worth watching on their own merit. If the only reason to watch a movie is because it’s inclusive, that’s a disservice to the audience. This is one of the issues with I Saw the TV Glow, which focuses on the coming of age stories surrounding non-binary youths.

I Saw the TV Glow follows Owen (Justice Smith) and his acquaintance turned best friend, Maddy (Brigette Lundy-Paine). They form a bond around their mutual love of an old TV show, but as they grow older, they grow apart. The film does well in showcasing some of the struggles non-binary and trans youth run into as they grow up, and has some intriguing cinematography, but that’s about all it does well.

Justice Smith and Brigette Lundy-Paine both become engrossed in their roles. There’s a lot of emotion, or in some cases, lack of emotion coming from these two as their friendship blossoms and they start to come out of their shells. However, the obsession with the TV show never truly pays off, and the longer the movie tries to hold on to this plot device, the worse things get.

Brigette Lundy-Paine, I Saw the TV Glow, Justice Smith, review

Abstract films are not uncommon. There are plenty of dialogue-heavy movies that are meant to stimulate our minds and make audiences think about the deeper meaning behind what’s happening on screen. I Saw the TV Glow feels as though it’s trying to be one of those films, but the end of the movie feels more like an incomprehensible mess, rather than something with proper meaning behind it.

The film has been compared to Donnie Darko and similar dark tales seeped in deep meaning. However, it never quite gets to those depths. There’s something to be said about the 80s look and feel of the film, which mimics the TV show the film revolves around, but some of the aging makeup looks off. That can’t be written off by simply saying the creative team was going for a cheap look to match the show.

I Saw the TV Glow provides an interesting and sometimes insightful look into the mind of a young non-binary person. The problem is with the story that surrounds these moments. There isn’t enough substance in the film to give it the cult following of something like Donnie Darko. The movie is inclusive, but there needs to be more to it than that.

About I Saw The TV Glow

Synopsis: Two teenagers bond over their love of a supernatural TV show, but it is mysteriously cancelled.

Director: Jane Schoenbrun

Writer: Jane Schoenbrun

Stars: Justice Smith, Brigette Lundy-Paine, Ian Foreman

Rated: PG-13

Runtime: 1 Hour, 40 Minutes

Brigette Lundy-Paine, I Saw the TV Glow, Justice Smith, review

Bryan Dawson has been writing professionally since the age of 13. He started his career as a video game writer and has since worked for Random House, Prima Games, DirecTV, IGN, AOL, the British Government, and various other organizations. For GNN, Bryan taps into his passion for movies.

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