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Spiritual Antithesis / Live-Action TV

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  • Star Trek:
    • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine is this to its immediate predecessors, Star Trek: The Original Series and Star Trek: The Next Generation. Where TOS and TNG are about traveling in a starship, visiting strange new worlds, and demonstrating the moral superiority of a bunch of utopian future-humans, DS9 stays mostly put on the titular space station and deals with internal politics and far more complex moral dilemmas that place it farther toward the cynical side of the sliding scale.
      • The DS9 episode "Crossover" is specifically a Take That! to the optimistic ending of the TOS episode "Mirror, Mirror." In the latter, the crew of the Enterprise is able to convince evil!Spock to pull a Heel–Face Turn with an inspirational speech or two, and the implication is that he will manage to reform the entire Terran Empire (his universe's evil counterpart to The Federation). The former turns this optimistic outcome on its head when it turns out that the "reformed" (read: weakened) Empire is easily conquered and enslaved and humans in that universe have been suffering ever since.
  • All in the Family was one to the sitcoms of the 1950s-60s. The Bunkers were a lower-middle class household while most 60s-era sitcoms featured almost-upper-middle class characters. Their political conflicts also made the ones from previous sitcoms seem trivial. Not to mention the first episode began with the sound of a flush whereas years earlier toilets were basically forbidden on TV.
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    • In the same vein, Maude (also created by Lear) was this to both All in the Family and the aforementioned sitcoms: Maude was the liberal counterpart to the conservative Archie while the characters were only a family in name instead of the happy-go-lucky "beautiful people" found on 60s-era shows.
  • Seinfeld was a reaction to the sitcoms of the mid-late 80s like Family Ties and The Cosby Show, being set in the big city (N.Y. no less), featured unsympathetic characters and adult humor (something unusual at the time), and enforced the "no hugging, no kissing" rule.
  • Seinfeld itself would have one in Friends. Both are highly acclaimed sitcoms centered around a quirky group of New Yorkers and the misadventures they get into. But while Seinfeld is more cynical, has Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonists, and is completely comedic, Friends is more lighthearted, has more likable main characters and balances comedy and drama.
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  • Bates Motel is a Spiritual Prequel to Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho. However, the original film was so groundbreaking and iconic because of its unprecedented Halfway Plot Switches that viewers would never see coming. Bates Motel, on the other hand, is a Tragedy because, due to Pop-Cultural Osmosis, viewers know exactly what's going to happen.
  • Blake's 7 was meant to be Star Trek turned on its head: the symbol of the fascist Terran Federation was even the symbol of the Federation Starfleet turned 90 degrees to the right.
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  • Breaking Bad and The Wire are both epic crime dramas about the American drug trade that have been called two of the greatest television series of all time by several critics, and both are well-known for examining The American Dream at length—but their respective approaches to their subject matter are as different as Night and Day. Breaking Bad is a classical "rise and fall" story set mainly in the suburban American Southwest, and centered around the white, middle-class, college-educated scientist Walter White; despite its deconstructive take on crime dramas, it's known for its highly stylized elements, and it takes quite a few cues from genre fiction (like Westerns and gangster films) in its portrayal of Walter's journey from a mild-mannered schoolteacher to a tyrannical drug lord. By contrast, The Wire is a sprawling story about the intertwining fates of the many, many denizens of the inner-city East Coast—most of whom are lower-class African-Americans—that has so many characters that it doesn't really have a protagonist at all, and rigidly adheres to unadorned realism. One show uses the drug trade as a backdrop for one man's personal quest to claim his slice of the American Dream, while the other uses social commentary to examine how the the drug trade wreaks havoc on the lives of people just trying to escape the cycle of poverty. Put into literary terms: Breaking Bad is a Shakespearean crime drama, while The Wire is a Dickensian crime drama.
  • Bill Cosby felt that the blaxploitation genre was deeply rooted in stereotypes, and so he created The Cosby Show, a sitcom about a happy, middle-class black family, to give young black people more positive role models instead. This, in turn, led it to draw criticism from those who felt that its image of black respectability was one in which black people acted as white as possible, leading to the creation of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air as a Deconstructive Parody of this attitude, its Audience Surrogate being a working-class black man whose Fish out of Water interactions with that kind of family were meant to show him as more down-to-earth and his family as out of touch.
  • David Shore's The Good Doctor is one to his previous show House, M.D.; both deal with genius doctors with severe socialization problems. Dr. Shaun Murphy is a surgeon, young, idealistic, Cannot Tell a Lie, and has a legitimate neurological condition in Autism. Dr. Greg House is a diagnostician, middle-aged, bitterly cynical, a Consummate Liar, and is a social exile by choice, as he believes he doesn't deserve love or friendship.
  • The Shield can also be seen as a Shakespearean foil to The Wire. They're both character-driven cop shows focusing on close-knit task forces within city police departments, but The Shield has the arc of a tragedy, with the Strike Team falling apart due to the chain of consequences that come about when team leader Vic Mackey murders a fellow cop who sought to turn evidence against him and the Strike Team. The Wire, meanwhile, uses the Barksdale (later Stanfield) task force as a springboard for exploration of the city of Baltimore and the underclass in the city and the corruption of various institutions that exploit their power to persecute the power and crush those who seek to reform the system. The Wire presents many criminals in a sympathetic light, delving into the reasons why the poor use drugs; by contrast, The Shield presents many police officers in an unsympathetic light, delving into the reasons why police officers go bad. Also, The Wire largely stays grounded in reality, whereas The Shield tends to go big, with a variety of villains and criminal conspiracies.
  • Weeds and Breaking Bad also contrast each other in interesting ways. Both are about suburban parents who get in over their heads when they try to support their families by dealing drugs, but Weeds plays the premise for Black Comedy (with Nancy Botwin selling mostly harmless marijuana), while Breaking Bad plays it depressingly straight (with Walter White selling seriously dangerous methamphetamines). Nancy and Walt both try to hide their darker sides from their families, but Nancy's family are generally willing to put up with her criminal behavior, though still willing to call her out on it when it endangers others; by contrast, Walt's family recoil in horror when they discover his secret, completely disown him at the end (to the point where his son Walt Jr. legally changes his name to "Flynn" because he no longer wants anything to do with that name), and his wife Skyler eventually ending up as a prisoner in her own home when she realizes the full extent of her husband's monstrous deeds.
  • While Arrested Development and It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia both focus on a morally corrupt group of people with a major case of Freudian Excuse who are not allowed to grow as characters, Arrested Development focuses on what happens when a group of wealthy, upper-class jerks' luck finally starts running out and their privileged net collapses on them, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia features the day-to-day lives of lower-class owners of a destitute Philadelphia bar who consistently fail at any attempt to better themselves or their situation.
  • Joss Whedon created Buffy the Vampire Slayer because he wanted a blonde female character who, instead of becoming a helpless victim like in most horror films, is a competent heroine who beats the crap out of monsters.
  • Duck Dynasty is this to Here Comes Honey Booboo. Both shows deal with Southern people who would often be stereotyped as "white trash." However, where Honey Booboo is shown as exactly the stereotype, the cast of Duck Dynasty are shown as extremely successful because of their culture.
  • Firefly's setting is deliberately a change of pace from the standard Space Western or Wagon Train to the Stars where the main characters are backed by The Federation or some major organization.
  • Malcolm in the Middle and The Middle are both about a low middle class family struggling with everyday life. While Malcolm is rather mean spirited to downright cynical in its portrayal of family life The Middle has the same amount of bad stuff happening to them but manage to always end episodes on a lighter note than its predecessor.
  • Married... with Children was this for The Cosby Show, contrasting the loving, upper middle-class, black Huxtables with the dysfunctional, lower-class, white Bundys. In fact, MWC's working title was Not The Cosbys.
  • Misfits is a Spiritual Antithesis for Heroes, with its working-class, local, setting; deliberate avoidance of world-threatening storylines; mockery of high-flown philosophy or grand gestures; and open contempt for any idea that people with powers have a moral responsibility to become superheroes. Especially given that all of the protagonists are young criminals serving on community service.
  • The Office (UK) and The Office (US). The former is far more bitter, showing characters that have abandoned their dreams in meaningless dead end jobs. The latter shows a World Half Full where what's best in your life can be found in the things (and people) you most take for granted.
    • The US version has another spiritual antithesis in the form of Parks and Recreation. While the general tone is similar, the setting is deliberately made into the polar opposite of The Office. The Office is set in a dead end private sector job where the protagonists constantly struggle with one another while Parks is set in a first-step public sector job where the protagonists constantly struggle with the general populace.
  • Where Parks and Recreation above may be considered a spiritual antithesis to The Office, it can also be seen as one to Community. Both are sitcoms that pay incredible attention to detail and canon, and both (like The Office) are centered around the friendship group of a motley crew of lovable misfits. However, while Community is focused on how nobody at Greendale is ever going to make anything of their life, and the friendship group is in a way their only refuge from their crappy lives (the cynical end of the spectrum); the Parks gang climb career ladders throughout the series, often relying on each other to help them up said ladders (the ideal end of the spectrum).
  • Veep is basically the photo-negative of Parks and Recreation. The shows share the basic premise of being comedies about female leads surrounded by misfits trying to cope with the behind-the-scenes antics of government, but that's where the similarities end. The latter focused of the actions of a determined, idealistic public servant whose co-workers quickly became inseparable True Companions, tackling every obstacle with Third Options or someone (usually Leslie) falling on their sword For Happiness. Conversely, the former centered around a group of unrepentant narcissists, ranging from amoral sycophants to total sociopaths, who can and will say or do just about anything to keep their jobs one more day. While Parks and Rec poked fun at the bureaucracies of politics, it always showed the heroes achieving some amount of success through hard work, creative thinking, and a little bit of luck. Veep's comedy was far more mean-spirited, with its "heroes" taking two steps back for every foot forward, with the little accomplishments usually coming from someone being thrown under the bus. Incidentally, Selina Meyer had black hair, whereas Leslie Knope is a blonde.
  • The Quantum Leap episode "Lee Harvey Oswald" (demonstrating that Oswald could have and most likely did act alone) was made in response to the Oliver Stone film JFK. Show creator Donald P. Bellisario actually knew Oswald when they were both in the Marines, when he found him to be a disaffected communist oddball, even writing in a scene that really happened of them interacting.
  • In a few interviews, Steven Moffat has said that he considers Sherlock to be this to his tenure on Doctor Who, with his take on Sherlock Holmes essentially a dark Foil of The Doctor. Doctor Who is about a long-lived alien time traveler's relationships with his beloved mostly-human friends who keep him "down to Earth", whereas Sherlock is about a human detective who shuns emotions and friendly relationships. Where The Doctor is a powerful alien being who's afraid of losing touch with his "human" side, Sherlock Holmes is an ordinary human who wants to prove to the world that he's something better than human (as Moffat phrased it, "The Doctor is an angel who wants to be human, and Sherlock is a human who wants to be a god.")
    • Tonally, they're also complete inversions of one another: Doctor Who is a whimsical, light-hearted science-fiction series that's known for its dark undertones, and Sherlock is a gritty crime saga that's known for its whimsical undertones.
  • Another Doctor Who antithesis is The Ministry of Time. Both are European (British and Spanish, respectively) television series featuring time travel, but execute that core premise in very different fashions. Doctor Who is a light-hearted series that has the Doctor and his Companions travel through space and history (both British and otherwise), while The Ministry of Time is a much more mature series that has its protagonists travel through Spanish history and preserve it from malevolent forces. In addition, TMOT intentionally disposes of classic Doctor Who tropes such as travelling to the future and aliens, and instead focuses on the realities of history.
  • The classic Star Trek: The Original Series episode "Charlie X" can be seen as an antithesis of Robert A. Heinlein's novel Stranger in a Strange Land, which was published just five years before that episode aired. The plots of both works are essentially the same: an orphaned young man with nigh-omnipotent psychic powers is forced to adjust to human society after living his entire life among aliens, and finds himself entranced by the mysteries of human women. But while Heinlein's Valentine Michael Smith is a blissfully innocent figure who tries to use his powers to rid the human race of everything holding it back, Star Trek's Charlie Evans is a chillingly amoral figure whose alien upbringing leaves him incapable of using his powers responsibly. While Mike ends up successfully founding his own religion and social movement, Charlie is forcibly banished from human society for life.
  • The Thick of It can perhaps best be described as "The West Wing's evil British twin". Both shows have essentially the same premise, as they're both political Dramedies detailing the day-to-day struggles of the frequently overlooked staffers in the ranks of government, but they're as far apart from one another on the Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism as it's possible to be. The West Wing is a famously optimistic portrayal of American politics focusing on smart, idealistic young staffers trying to reconcile their principles with political realities; The Thick of It is a cynical portrayal of British politics focusing on morally bankrupt people who will do absolutely anything to get ahead. The West Wing gives us an idealized American President in Josiah "Jed" Bartlet, a fearless intellectual who stands by his ideals at any cost; The Thick of It never even shows us the British Prime Minister, but makes it clear that he's an unreliable Slave to PR with no real power in the grand scheme of government.
    • Interestingly, The West Wing almost used the same technique in its portrayal of the President: he originally wasn't supposed to be shown at all, then Aaron Sorkin decided that he should be a recurring character (with about three to four appearances per season), then he was made the show's protagonist after Martin Sheen unexpectedly stole the show in the pilot episode. If the writers of The West Wing had gone ahead with their original plan, the two shows would be even more similar.
  • The West Wing, incidentally, can itself be seen as the antithesis of House of Cards (UK), with President Jed Bartlet trending far more towards idealism versus Francis Urquhart's Machiavellian scheming. And in turn, House of Cards' American remake is the antithesis of The West Wing, with Lindsay Ellis describing it as running Aaron Sorkin's idealism through a shredder.
  • Patrick Jane in The Mentalist is the polar opposite of Adrian Monk. Both are consultants to the police, with completely different personalities. Monk is a socially awkward recluse with Super OCD, while Patrick is a confident, arrogant, and highly observant man who can easily read people's habits and behaviors.
    • The same could be said for Psych which preceded the Mentalist (with even a USA ad showing Shawn and Monk debating over numbers.) Psych also tends to have a good deal of humor and doesn't take itself too seriously compared to Monk and Mentalist.
  • Sean O'Neal of the AV Club discussed this with regards to the Fox News Channel and The Daily Show, a pair of TV news 'alternatives' that were both launched in 1996. Fox News saw itself as a corrective to perceived bias in the American news media, its audience was dominated by the baby boomers, and its commentary ran on righteous indignation and moral outrage. Daily Show host Jon Stewart, meanwhile, always insisted that he was a comedian rather than a journalist, but regardless, the show came to be seen, especially by the millennials and Gen-Xers who made up most of its audience, as a corrective to the "gut feelings over facts" nature of modern journalism that, during the show's height in the '00s, its viewers saw exemplified in Fox News. Furthermore, while Fox News was a decidedly conservative-leaning outlet, The Daily Show was just as stridently liberal-leaning.

    However, O'Neal concludes that, despite these differences, the two shows were ultimately two sides of the same coin in how they contributed to a blurring of the line between news and entertainment and to a general cynicism of the media and politics, Fox News by getting middle-aged and older people to see liberal journalists and politicians as untrustworthy, and The Daily Show by getting younger people to see all journalists and politicians as buffoons. He held up the debate between Stewart and Fox News pundit Bill O'Reilly in 2012 as the pinnacle of this, with the debate ultimately being as much a spectacle as it was a serious discussion — which was precisely what Stewart and O'Reilly intended.
  • The Late Show with Stephen Colbert to The Colbert Report. Both are late night talk shows starring Stephen Colbert (obviously), with a liberal stance on politics. However, Colbert Report had Colbert portraying an exaggerated parody of conservative Fox News Channel pundits, while Late Show has Colbert acting As Himself and therefore expressing his own views.
  • Kamen Rider Dragon Knight was meant to serve as one to the Power Rangers franchise, to the point where they refused to hire series fan-favorite Jason David Frank for the former. Though both are an American Adaptation of Tokusatsu shows, Kamen Rider and Super Sentai respectively, Power Rangers focus on a team of 3-5 individuals fighting a common enemy while Dragon Knight focused one hero finding other Kamen Riders manipulated by the Big Bad. In Power Rangers, the Monster of the Day is usually a creature with a gimmick who interacts with the heroes and sometimes spouts jokes and threats while the monsters in Kamen Rider have no voices or even names, they are on pair with the foot soldiers. While Power Rangers does take itself seriously in certain seasons, it still remains light-hearted and idealistic, Kamen Rider quickly let go of its comedic tones in favor of more serious story telling.
  • Kamen Rider Ex-Aid feels like one to its predecessor, Kamen Rider Ghost. Both are series from the same franchise, with kind protagonists that use devices to take on the forms of other beings to use their powers. However, while Ghost uses mystical devices meant to harness the spirits of historical figures, Ex-Aid uses mechanically-created devices that let him take on the form of fictional characters within their universe. While Ghost's suits have mainly dark colors with black visors, Ex-Aid's suits are bright and colorful, with expressive Animesque eyes for the visors. While the main goal of Ghost was to bring Takeru Back from the Dead, Ex-Aid focuses more on the idea of moving past deaths and when the option of Death Is Cheap is brought up, the characters question the ethics of such practices. The villains in Ghost were invaders from another world that became immortal by putting their bodies into a state of immortality, while the villains in Ex-Aid were invaders from video games that can cause one to become immortal with the right technology. Ghost has its protagonists get over their flaws during the first half to work together later on, while Ex-Aid has the protagonists struggle to work together, only growing past their flaws over the course of the series. The Hero of Ghost dies multiple times, with each death treated with sadness and often requires outside interference to bring him back, while the one who dies in Ex-Aid multiple times is the former Big Bad, with each death being treated as comedic due to how easily he can revive himself. Ghost's core message is about how one can take their life to control their fate and do great things, with the lack of understanding this by many villains making them misguided at worst, while Ex-Aid's core message is how the lives of others are not one's to control, with those disregarding the value of life being treated as amoral at best and utter monsters at worst.
  • Jacky St. James felt that the novel Fifty Shades of Grey portrayed an abusive relationship as a realistic depiction of BDSM. As a result, she co-created the Showtime erotic series Submission to serve as a rebuke to it and show a more honest and faithful look at the BDSM lifestyle.
  • Dexter and Hannibal are both TV shows about deranged serial killers who hide in plain sight by working with law enforcement to catch other serial killers; both series are even based on novels, and both feature a major plot point where the Villain Protagonist is forced to investigate his own murders, and attempts to pin them on someone else. But Dexter plays the premise for Black Comedy, portraying serial killer Dexter Morgan (aka "The Bay Harbor Butcher") as a surprisingly normal and affable guy who lives by a strict moral code of Pay Evil unto Evil. Hannibal, on the other hand, plays it for seriously creepy Gothic Horror, portraying Hannibal Lecter (aka "The Chesapeake Ripper") as a chillingly amoral figure with a God complex who hides behind his superficial charm. Their settings also contrast each other, with Dexter taking place in urban Miami, while Hannibal mainly takes place in the rural Mid-Atlantic.
  • Tomica Hero Rescue Force and Tomica Hero Rescue Fire contrast Rescue Heroes by both having personal antagonists and having the main characters actually stop the disasters with their super weapons and mecha instead of being as tiny and insignificant as the hapless civilians they're trying to save.
  • Power Rangers has Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers and Power Rangers Dino Thunder. Both of them have teenage superheroes fighting against evil with dinosaur based suits and weapons, both had an arc abut a Sixth Ranger who starts out evil but becomes good and both feature Ensemble Dark Horse Tommy Oliver as a main lead. However, that is where the similarities end. While the Mighty Morphin team were True Companions before becoming Rangers, the Dino Thunder team are a Ragtag Bunch of Misfits who likely never would have crossed paths let alone become friends if not for them ending up as Rangers. While the Mighty Morphin team were idealistic and heroic to a rather unrealistic degree, the Dino Thunder Rangers are more flawed. Even Tommy's role in both seasons differ greatly. On Mighty Morphin, he was the sixth Ranger and later leader, in Dino Thunder he's The Mentor. Finally, while the enemies of the MMPR team were aliens from outer space, the villains of Dino Thunder are monsters made due to a scientist's hubris.
  • Freaks and Geeks to That '70s Show. Two defining Nostalgia Shows of the early 2000s set in small towns in the American Northern Midwest, and nearly set in the same time period (one at the beginning of the 1980s, one at the end of the 1970s). Despite being period pieces, they were notable for avoiding most obvious markers of their historical settings, with both shows revolving around the humdrum lives of ordinary teenagers who rarely (if ever) took notice of major world events. But Freaks and Geeks was a sober and downbeat dramedy that was known for its complex and nuanced portrayal of its characters, while That '70s Show was a raucous and irreverent comedy that gleefully indulged in cartoonish stock character archetypes. Freaks and Geeks largely focused on the social tensions between the bookish and nerdy "geeks" and the cool and rebellious "freaks" (who never associated with each other), while That '70s Show revolved around a mismatched group of True Companions who were shown to be extremely close with each other in spite of their differences.
  • Last Man Standing has been cited as both this and a Spiritual Successor to All in the Family. Both shows are sitcoms about conservative patriarchs who find themselves confounded by changing social mores, and often butt heads with their politically left-leaning wives and kids. The difference comes in who the audience is supposed to side with. Archie Bunker from All in the Family was (Misaimed Fandom aside) an Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist, a boorish reactionary who shut out views he disagreed with, often by Blowing a Raspberry to the people voicing them in order to make them shut up. While his wife Edith, daughter Gloria, and son-in-law Mike (the last one being Archie's main comedic and political foil) weren't perfect themselves, the show generally sided with their worldview, and even Archie himself softened his arch-conservative viewpoints in later seasons. Last Man Standing, meanwhile, is more likely to take the side of its protagonist Mike Baxter, portraying him as genuinely tied down and constrained by the increasingly politically correct world around him, with his liberal daughter Kristin and son-in-law Ryan, while well-meaning and sometimes having good points, portrayed as ignorant and hypocritical in their views more often than not. Also, while the Bunkers on All in the Family were working-class New Yorkers, with Archie employed as a foreman, the Baxters on Last Man Standing are an outdoorsy, upper-middle-class family from suburban Colorado, with Mike employed as a marketing executive and his wife Vanessa a geologist.
  • Before Last Man Standing, All in the Family received another antithesis in Family Ties. Both shows are sitcoms about The Generation Gap and political divide between parents and their children, but the politics were flipped: All in the Family was about the tension between the old conservative Archie and his activist liberal son-in-law Mike, reflecting the discomfort that older generations had with the left-wing student movements of The '60s, while Family Ties was about such between the liberal ex-hippies Steven and Elyse Keaton and their Reagan-loving yuppie son Alex and Valley Girl daughter Mallory (the former explicitly a Republican, the latter apolitical but having inherited little of her mother's feminism), reflecting the more conservative ethos of youth culture in The '80s.
  • Reg Watson conceived Neighbours as the antithesis of most Australian soap operas that came before it, including his own Sons And Daughters and Prisoner: Cell Block H: a more grounded show that told smaller stories about middle class suburban people who have a sense of community with their neighbours. While occasionally throwing in darker elements such as murder, rape, and drugs, it is comparatively idealistic and inspired a legion of shows that copied its tone.
  • The IT Crowd has a spiritual antithesis in The Big Bang Theory - they're both about geeks with no social skills meeting a woman who can help them deal with people, but is lost when they start talking shop. They both also feature a rude character whose exasperation with everyone else's lack of technical knowledge is the foundation of several jokes. But, The IT Crowd is a Work Com that mostly takes place in an unkept basement cluttered with cheap nerdy paraphernalia, while The Big Bang Theory takes place on the characters' apartment, which is always spotless and filled to the brim with valuable collectibles. The characters of Roy and Moss are contrasted with Leonard and Sheldon: Roy is rude because he doesn't care about his coworkers computer problems and never does more than the bare minimum when it comes to work, with his sidekick Moss being shy, awkward and helpful, while Leonard is too awkward to ask a girl out, but always willing to help and explain science concepts, with his sidekick Sheldon being a classic Insufferable Genius, and a neat freak to boot.
  • ABC's 1987 miniseries Amerika was born as this to their 1983 Made-for-TV Movie The Day After. A 1983 column by Ben Stein suggested that, since The Day After depicted the horrible what-if scenario of a nuclear attack on America, a movie should be made depicting the equally horrible what-if scenario of America being conquered by the USSR, the ultimate threat that had led to the US' maintenance of a massive fleet (to keep this impossible in the short term) and a series of disposable allies/buffer states in Western Europe and East Asia (to keep this impossible in the long term). The head of ABC paid Stein a quitclaim fee for coming up with the idea for the miniseries.
  • Black Mirror:
    • A big part of why fans and critics found the third season episode "San Junipero" so unusual was because it was this to the entire rest of the show. Black Mirror had made its name as a Darker and Edgier modern-day Twilight Zone exploring how people could use seemingly awesome up-and-coming technologies for ill, while "San Junipero" is a straightforward, lighthearted sci-fi romance whose plot hinges on a positive use of its central technology. Since then, each new season of Black Mirror has had at least one Breather Episode ("USS Callister" in season four, "Rachel, Jack and Ashley Too" in season five) in which technology is portrayed as a force for good rather than an ominous one, and all of the good guys get happy endings.
    • "San Junipero" got its own antithesis that same season in "Nosedive". Both are set in pastel-colored landscapes rooted in retro Americana that are remarkably unlike the show's normally grounded and gritty aesthetic, but whereas "San Junipero", as noted above, was a Breather Episode, "Nosedive" is set in a Crapsaccharine World that, beneath its appearance, is pure, traditional Black Mirror in how its central technology destroys its protagonist's life.
  • Succession and The Righteous Gemstones are a pair of HBO shows that air together on Sunday nights during the summer, each about a Big, Screwed-Up Family with way more money than sense. Succession, however, is a dramedy about a family from New York that controls a global media empire (based on the real-life Murdochs), while The Righteous Gemstones is a comedy about the family of a crooked televangelist from the Deep South.
    • Speaking of Succession, it's a darker, real-world version of Arrested Development. Both shows center on an uber-rich Big, Screwed-Up Family of Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonists who are constantly engaged in backstabbing and petty in-fighting, while trying to keep the family business afloat. There are even character parallels: Logan is George, as the family's terrible patriarch; Kendall is Michael, as "the dutiful son" and the only child with anything resembling a conscience; Roman is Gob, as the resident agent of chaos; Shiv is Lindsay, as the only daughter and the child with a career in politics; Connor is Buster, as the weird, harmlessly insipid half-brother of the other three children; and Greg is George Michael, as the youngest and most naive/innocent of the characters.
  • Dark (2017), upon its premiere, was widely compared by critics to a German version of Stranger Things, another Netflix series that premiered the year before. Both are sci-fi horror shows inspired by Stephen King whose plots are kicked off by a child's disappearance and a group of townsfolk (including his friends, his grieving parents, and the local police chief) searching for him, both involve travel between Alternate Universes, and both are set, at least in part, in The '80s. However, as this article by Emily VanDerWerff for Vox explains, those comparisons go out the window as the show goes on. Stranger Things takes place entirely in the '80s in an idealized Everytown, America and is rooted heavily in nostalgia for the decade, all while being a (mostly) family-friendly show that keeps its storylines straightforward and closes off most of its loose ends at the conclusion of each season. Dark, meanwhile, is set mostly in the present day and broadens its Time Travel beyond the '80s as it progresses, and as its name suggests, it is very much the Darker and Edgier of the two shows, with a grim atmosphere, a constantly overcast setting, lots of R-rated content, a more cynical take on nostalgia for the past, and a twisting, convoluted storyline that the viewer is meant to solve. Their respective opening scenes are a case in point: one opens with a man getting killed by a fantastical monster, the other with a man hanging himself in a fashion all too realistic. This interview by Radio Times with Dark's creators Baran bo Odar and Jantje Friese goes into more detail on the similarities and differences, describing the show as more or less a Nordic Noir version of Stranger Things (albeit German instead of Scandinavian).
  • The Good Place, about an egotistical woman who's ended up in heaven by mistake but manages to become a better person, is this to the existentialist play No Exit. A video by Wisecrack even compares the three person cast of the play to three of the Good Place residents on the TV show.


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