Pushing Daisies: The Anti-Procedural
Pushing Daisies: The Anti-Procedural
I've had over half a day now to think about the season premiere of Pushing Daisies.  The creation of Bryan Fuller, Daisies is unlike anything else on television.  The show should not work – it's completely preposterous, it exists in a world that has no relation to any sort of reality, and the plot lines are often convoluted to the point of silliness.  And yet, Pushing Daisies is one of the more enjoyable TV experiences a person can have.  Pushing Daisies is a constant smile, a fuzzy blanket, a television anomaly that is shameless in its need to entertain its audience.  I used to think of Pushing Daisies as an Adult Murder Mystery Fairy Tale.  In a way, I still do.  However, when trying to decipher why exactly Pushing Daisies is so pleasing to the senses, it hit me – Daisies is the opposite of and direct response to all of the humorless procedural dramas that populate the TV landscape. 

Procedurals have their place, and I completely understand the appeal.  They are intriguing, suspenseful and adult.  I begrudge nobody who enjoys them.  They are, however, by and large humorless and dark.  Their world view is bleak and cynical.  Shows like CSI reflect culture, especially in the uncertain times we find ourselves in right now.  It's cathartic for some people to watch a show with horrendous murders and gory investigations that features little comedy.  Maybe life isn't so bad – at least you haven't been murdered in Vegas by a transsexual pirate clown stripper.  Personally, I find a show like CSI to be needlessly grim, and watching it does not fill me with any joy. 

Joy.  That might be the key word.  A conceit that legendary critic Roger Ebert has repeated over and over again is particularly apt (I'm paraphrasing): It's not what something is about, it's how it's about it.  Pushing Daisies, at its most basic level, is no different from CSI or Law and Order.  There is a case, an investigation, an accusation and a resolution.  Pushing Daisies, unlike those other shows, takes the exact opposite tone of every other series with a similar premise.  Each Pushing Daisies episode is given an overdose of joy and wonder and imagination, leaving viewers smiling despite themselves, even when they've witnessed what should be a horribly disgusting murder. 

I also suspect that part of Daisies' effectiveness comes from its rosy tone being in direct opposition of the world we live in.  These are cynical times.  We live in the so-called Age of Irony.  It's simply refreshing to have a show like Pushing Daisies that is relentlessly positive in the face of gruesome pseudo-reality.  If we all took a cue from Pushing Daisies, we'd all be a lot happier.  We probably won't, but at least for an hour a week, all will be well.

-Oscar Dahl, BuddyTV Senior Writer
(Image Courtesy of ABC)
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