Dear Veena Sud,
First off, this is not hate mail. So you don’t have to be afraid to read this. And we both know that right now the internet is flooded with reviews of The Killing season 1 finale that read like hate mail to you. People are mad. Hell, I’m mad. I even wrote my own, brief, disgusted review at the lack of satisfaction the finale brought fans. But despite my anger, I think both you and your show deserve a second chance. I’ve actually got six things you should consider doing during this comeback tour.
So, maybe I’ve just been watching too many reruns of Criminal Minds, but I feel certain there’s a psychological term for the reason that I’m mad at you, but also see so many other people mad at you that I’ve switched over to wanting to help you. (Or is this just compassion?) But listen, it can’t be a good day to be you. And I imagine somewhere you’re getting phone calls from higher-up’s who are concerned by the amount of people saying they’ll boycott the show now. And you’re doing your best to reassure them that this is just the first wave of reaction to the finale, and everyone will come around…while probably wondering if what you’re saying will be true. Undoubtedly you hope it’ll be true.
But you’ve realized the faith you had in your “non-formula” formula and in fans to appreciate it is not returned by the fans. They don’t have faith in you. I can already see TV insiders making jokes about the USA adaption of The Killing, and of you. (“Man, that show almost pulled a Veena Sud.” “Who killed Rosie Larsen? Ha, who killed The Killing?”) That’s how epic your failure seems. Maybe you don’t see it as a failure. But I can tell you that my observational eye says that the majority thinks you failed, and that is going to become the truth of season 1. That’s its legacy. No one is going to encourage their friends to go buy this on DVD. That is, unless you give them a hell of a season 2. And you’ll have to convince people to watch it. Getting people to watch the first season was easy. Your marketing campaign was genius – people love true crime vibes. But then you failed to answer the only question that mattered. Who killed Rosie Larsen? Do you even know? Plead the fifth.
I’m not here just to judge you. I want to provide you with some helpful suggestions of what you can do to regain viewers and the faith of the AMC Network. The thing people are loving to do right now is hate The Killing. But after that, people love a good comeback. So mount your attack strategy now, and forget about the vacation you were planning. You have to save this show. And there are some particular points you should cover:
First: Don’t give such cocky interviews. The people who interviewed you right before the finale were letting you hang your own noose. They’d seen the episode, they knew people would be mad. Hell, they were mad.
Second: Don’t apologize for what you have already said in those interviews. You have your stance, don’t back down from it now or you’ll be perceived as weak. Even though you sounded cocky, you have to stick by it now.
Third: Consider a public apology. See if Funny or Die will work with you. If nothing else, use YouTube. And use humor. As humor doesn’t seem to be your strong point, find a writer who can help you. Watch some SNL episodes on Netflix Instant and get inspired for how to turn this around. You have to make fun of yourself to win back public favor.
Fourth: Be honest with your cast, crew, etc, etc, that the finale and entire season had problems (it had potential, but problems.) Let them know it isn’t their fault. It’s really not anyone’s fault by yours. The cast will get some hard interview questions now about whether they liked the finale or not. Encourage them to be honest. No one liked season 4 of Big Love, and people appreciated when Chloe Sevigny admitted that she didn’t either. It made us want to hold on and see where things would go, since it was clear people knew they couldn’t be stubborn and say they weren’t doing anything wrong.
Fifth: Webisodes. You need them. Take a hint from other webisodes that TV shows have done. You need your main players in these. At least one. And if you can’t get anyone, use Rosie. Or Rosie’s pov. Do not introduce some new face and expect anyone to care. Maybe you’ll let fans see another one of Rosie’s videos that can have a clue in it. Or maybe you’ll have the tech superheroes create a fake copy of her desktop and e-mails. People want to feel involved. And people need to feel invested in Rosie again.
Sixth: Plan to reveal the real killer very early on in season 2. Even if this wasn’t your plan. The plan in your head probably was going to work perfect. But it’s time to re-adjust. I’m sorry that it doesn’t go the way you wanted it to. I’m sorry that you tried hard, and people don’t like this outcome. It doesn’t mean you didn’t try hard, or that you aren’t smart, or can’t do better.
I hope this helps.