I’m not surprised at those Detroiters who criticize AMC’s “Low Winter Sun” for being too bleak and dark. This is definitely not a series that seeks to focus on the more upbeat, positive aspects of Detroit. I doubt we will be treated to many shots of Indian Village or Palmer Woods, nor are we likely to see any adoring views of couples strolling casually down the Riverwalk.
This just ain’t that kinda show.
But the real question is whether an intense and well-written cop drama focusing on corruption and dirty deeds is yet another slap in Motown’s face or a boost of another sort. I realize how sensitive we as Detroiters can be to negative portrayals of our city because, well, that’s pretty much the only kind of portrayal we ever get. It seems like nobody is interested in what’s good about Detroit because stray dogs and stray bullets are always so much more sexy.
So then what to do about this? Should we protest Low Winter Sun because it gives certain viewers the dirt they want or should we use it as a foot in the door opening the way toa more expansive and comprehensive view of Detroit?
Consider how many hundreds of movies have been made about and in New York and zlos Angeles. Each one, whether a Woody Allen flick or Godzilla, presents a particular vision of the city – and none of them are accurate. I don’t care how good any director may or may not be, not one has the ability to present an artistic piece of work that can accurate reflect an entire city. All any one of them can do is present the vision that seems the most real to them and that best serves the movie’s narrative. It has to be real enough to where the location is recognizable, which can be done in any number of ways, but that’s about it. Put another way, Martin Scorcese’s New York is most definitely not Woody Allen’s New York, and neither one is Spike Lee’s New York. And yet they are all imperfect visions of New York that serve their storylines quite well.
So maybe Low Winter Sun does present a harsh, rough-edged view of Detroit. By now that shouldn’t come a a shock. But does it disrespect Detroit? I would say absolutely not. This is a character-driven drama, not a location-driven drama. We as Detroiters are particularly sensitive to the location because we live here, but the truth of the matter is that this is a very well-written, very well-cast series with a lot of promise that probably couldn’t have worked as well if shot anywhere else. And it will help open the door to other visions that will open the door to still other visions that will…
And that is what a well-told story can do.