Is it? I think it might just be.
Name it then.
I’d vote for the first season of “Twin Peaks” or the entire run of “Six Feet Under.”. “Buffy” wouldn’t make my top twenty of “emotionally devastating.”
^I second Six Feet Under. At least above Buffy.
Six Feet Under’s emotional peaks have absolutely nothing on the emotional roller coaster that Buffy’s best moments ride. Six Feet Under is a glorified soap opera at its worst and its best moments are rarely free of cloying sentimentality. That being said, season 5 of SFU does have some pretty excellent moments. There isn’t a single episode in the entire series that depicts the aftermath of a death with as much restraint as The Body.
I also don’t see how anyone could consider the first season of Twin Peaks as something that is emotionally devastating.
Friday Night Lights
Every episode of The Wire written by George Pelecanos. This man single-handedly killed almost every character I loved with a ruthless efficiency unrivaled even among the show’s other writers. There is nothing more depressing than [SPOILER ALERT] Wallace trying to hold back tears, pissing his pants, pleading for his friends not to shoot him.
PELECANOS YOU BASTAAAARRRRDDDD!
Actually gotta throw my support behind Friday Night Lights as well. Nothing like it.
I would disagree with The Wire as well. It is my favourite show but I don’t think it’s a show that has emotional peaks like Buffy. There are some incredibly emotional sequences [SPOILER ALERT] including Kima getting shot, Wallace getting killed and Bodie getting killed, but I really don’t think it’s a show that feeds off of emotional highs. It’s an extremely bleak and despairing show but it isn’t one that is all that generous with emotion I don’t think.
On the other hand, Buffy is fueled by almost nothing other than emotion.
I agree that The Wire isn’t all about the emotional highs, but those Pelecanos episodes in particular (especially the first time through) really got me because you realize you’ve spent a dozen hours or more with a character only to see them destroyed by circumstances totally out of their control.
For sheer emotion, I’d say Six Feet Under when I was fourteen and impressionable, but I’ve had a hard time trying to rewatch them again since. As you said Elmer, it really was a—albeit well written and acted—glorified soap opera. (Also, do you switch the ‘a’ to an ‘an’ when an interjection begins with a vowel but not actual subject-noun? Never thought about that before.)
As far as The Wire, it was great. But I thought that “Wallace” (Michael B Jordan), reached far above and beyond The Wire in Friday Night Lights.
Thanks for the support Jack :)
Okay, Fishsticks, you’re being obdurate and intractable. You’ve made up your mind about “Buffy” and clearly aren’t going to listen to other voices. So, to you, this silly tween vampire saga wins the emotionally devastation sweepstakes. End of thread.
Since the question is about “the most emotional devastating” show I would definitely second Buffy! Just thinking about “The Body” makes me cringe like a little girl. Never cried so hard in a film or a TV Show. So yeah, buffy all the way!
Charisma Carpenter was pretty devastating in Playboy, i can confirm that!
I’ve never seen a television show that was emotionally devastating and I’ve seen select episodes from all of the shows mentioned here. TV? Buffy? Emotional? Really? Pfft. Gardener’s Question Time has more emotion. It’s kind of hilarious that Whedon gets the amount of attention he gets…but I’m sure I’m alone in that opinion.
I loved Twin Peaks, but wouldn’t call it emotional per se. It’s surreal and darkly humourous with some real-world implications (once again, I loved the first season), but not exactly a tear jerker. Maybe I’m just insensitive.
SIDE NOTE: Why start a thread asking a question when you already know the answer?
Deckard, props to your side note. In my mind, a tearjerker is quite distinct from an emotionally devastating experience. After watching the Twin Peaks pilot when it first aired, I sat in my dark apartment the rest of the night, blown away by what I’d seen (on network TV no less).
@Twin Peaks: As was I, but the light-heartedness of many of the scenes offset the reality of the situations the characters were in (there’s actually a ridiculous amount of dry humour in the series, even beyond the blatantly obvious stuff) it certainly wasn’t on par with Eraserhead or even Fire Walk with Me. I thought anyway. Anyway, my tear-jerker comment was a bit facetious so yeah, I guess we should ignore that, heh.
I liked “Six Feet Under” but, except for the very effective and understated way a main character died in the last season, it was very manipulative and heavy handed.
I hated Buffy at first. I saw pieces of 2 or 3 episodes and found it cheesy and annoying. Eventually I watched all the episodes, in order, and about 4 episodes in it finally clicked. It truly is a staggering achievement, for my money one of the Top 5 US television shows ever, and for my money probably the most emotionally devastating. And no, I’m not a 12 year old girl. I’m a grown ass 28 year old man.
I just can’t get past Whedon’s writing style. I think it’s dreadful. Granted, he didn’t write/direct all of the Buffy episodes, but even the ones he didn’t write seemed to be written with the intention of reflecting his style. I don’t know. Again, probably just me.
The absence of The Sopranos is horrifying. Nothing comes close.
Six Feet Under had a great first season, at least, but I think it went progressively downhill after that. At its best it was more philosophically interesting than emotionally affecting. At its worst it was just a lot of random fucking.
The Sopranos was an emotional show but it didn’t emotionally impact the audience much. The audience was quickly beaten into the state of not letting themselves get attached to anyone because they know they’re probably going to die.
Twin Peaks was emotionally affecting in that it managed to get you attached to the characters and genuinely concerned for their fate, and I like how it openly admitted it’s soap opera plot. I see saying it’s not on par with Eraserhead, but Fire Walk With Me? Half the film was just stuff Twin Peaks fans already knew and the other half was just a hat on top of a hat.
To be honest the TV shows that have emotionally impacted me the most are the scifi serials. Battlestar Galactica, Lost, Babylon 5, Deep Space Nine. I agree with the comment that in TV it’s mostly individual episodes that are emotional, not the series as a whole. Various episodes of House have emotionally affected me, but usually it doesn’t at all.
I like Wheadon’s sense of humor but I don’t like his style of characterization. Also in Firefly, it’s like Sorkin glibness but less earned.
@Jirin: I do regard the first season of Twin Peaks as definitive to the story, but I found Fire Walk with Me to be a much darker treatment of that material, therefore more emotionally draining. I mean there’s some scenes in that film that are downright claustrophobic! But yeah, I didn’t mean to imply it was better, just that it was less dynamic, being more focused on unsettling and displacing the audience.
Sopranos spoiler if there’s anyone left in the WW who has not seen it…the episode where Tony killed Christopher was one of the most emotionally devastating moments in a TV show ever. I love the Sopranos above all other TV shows ever made but I would not call it a particularly overall emotional response. FNL often has me in tears though.
Really? You believe that? Because I believe that. And I’m the only person you’ll ever meet who actually played against that football team. Yes, it’s a true story and I played against them.
Again, give me BSG.
@ Jerry ♥ FNL in fact am actually right now after a tough day at work torn between watching FNL or Lust for Gold :):) and I know what I wanna do