The TV Set

In theaters.

I don’t doubt that television is an extraordinarily difficult field in which to cultivate an artistic vision. It is unabashedly business-oriented, focused on ratings (and ratings of narrow demographic groups, at that) to the exclusion of virtually everything else. So the satire in The TV Set—the story of a sitcom pilot’s troubled development—feels almost naturalistic, the humor derived not from exaggeration but from a bleak laugh-so-you-don’t-cry sensibility.

And yet I still had the nagging feeling that the movie is stacking the deck, and that annoyed me. The comedy is funny but whiny, grating after a while. It hits its target, but when your primary target is a crass TV executive, that’s not a particularly difficult target to hit.