The Purge premieres September 4th on USA.
By Chris Flanagan
The greatest crime that USA Network’s The Purge commits is attempting to emulate the films it’s based on without trying to carry on its message. Whether or not you deem them good movies, The Purge films have been able to craft a voice that shouts directly against social issues of racial divide and dissonance between a government’s power and its people but the TV series feels as if it is trying to catch and ride their wave of success as far as possible.
The show takes place several years after the annual ritual has been made available to the nation with the first episode specifically taking place in the 12 hours leading up to The Purge as it weaves in and out of several unassociated storylines; Miguel, a former soldier, and his race to find his sister, Penelope, who has joined a Purge cult, Rick and Jenna are two middle-class citizens that are invited to spend Purge night at a party with many affluent people that have a hand in maintaining The Purge and Jane, a businesswoman whose situation seems eerily too good to be true as she is locked inside an office building to finish a business deal before sunrise. The show chooses to populate its world with plenty of characters and teases at developing them into people that will be forever changed by this event but somewhere along the line it forgets to add any substance to them that would give way to the audience’s time and investment. What you are left with instead as time slowly marches on in the episodes, is the notion that you are entirely open to the idea that these characters could die and it wouldn’t change my opinion.
I know my opinion towards The Purge is subjective and before I even sat down to watch it I became bothered by the fact that I couldn’t answer why a network would want to develop this into a tv series, let alone how they could sustain it. From there, it was already fighting an uphill battle with my attention as I was daring it to make me interested and therefore was looking for all of the negative within it to justify my distaste for it. However, given some time afterward, I still cannot come around to finding anything to enjoy about The Purge. Its story is almost non-existent, the characters overly bland and stereotypical to the point where you do not care about them, and the show suffers from being on an episodic medium that has to censor its content. Although, this was most surprising for me as I anticipated much worse from The Purge based on previous shows that USA has pushed the envelope with. I am more than willing to recognize my own bias and secretly I was hoping that it would leave me at least with one thing that I could bring to you as entertainment or enjoyment, however, it did not and over the course of several episodes continues to progress further into the void of scripted TV shows that fall victim to an oversaturated market.
I give The Purge a D-.