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Jane Schoenbrun, a screenwriter and director heavily influenced by modern media, takes us on a nostalgic journey in her latest film, I Saw the TV Glow. Set in the era just before the ubiquity of the internet, a time when our obsessions were less accessible but perhaps even more appreciated, the film spins a rich allegory for identity through its complex and delightfully honest (and strange!) narrative.

I Saw the TV Glow tells the story of Owen, a lonely teenager from a broken home who finds comfort and connection in his friendship with Maddy as they bond over their shared love of The Pink Opaque. Reminiscent of genre classics like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Charmed, The Pink Opaque becomes a central part of Owen and Maddy’s lives, offering them meaning and variety. Paying homage to the importance of these shows, particularly for queer and trans viewers, I Saw the TV Glow becomes a cautionary tale about the intensity of fandom while serving as a metaphor for Owen’s journey of self-discovery. Through his obsession, Owen glimpses the possibility of a truer self, a life more in tune with his inner feelings.

I saw the TV glow | Official Trailer HD | A24

Schoenbrun’s narrative is poignant as it explores transgender identity. Owen’s struggle is both perceptive and compassionate, and Schoenbrun’s images travel through his psychological turmoil with honesty and depth. It’s a bittersweet portrayal of confusion and longing, a reminder of the dangers of living vicariously through fantasy at the expense of confronting reality.

Visually, I was completely won over by Schoenbrun’s careful composition of each shot. With this and their previous film, We’re All Going to the World’s Fair (a film released before Schoenbrun’s own gender reassignment), Schoenbrun proves they know how to create a mood, for better or for worse. I Saw the TV Glow is so haunting and really captures the feeling of being young and queer in the 1990s.

This is such a profound and interesting piece of art. I’m still thinking about it hours after leaving the Fargo Theater, and I imagine I’ll be thinking about it for days and weeks to come. It’s a total nostalgia trip for those of us who came of age in the era of Nickelodeon shows like “Are You Afraid of the Dark?” and renting weird horror movies from Blockbuster. It’s strange. It’s meticulous. It’s disturbing. It’s also a stellar follow-up film for Schoenbrun. This film firmly establishes her as a major voice in contemporary cinema. I can’t wait to see what they do next.

Scottie Knollin says I Saw The TV Glow, now playing at the Fargo Theatre, captures the feeling of being young and queer in the 1990sScottie Knollin says I Saw The TV Glow, now playing at the Fargo Theatre, captures the feeling of being young and queer in the 1990s

I Saw the Television Glow (2024)

A profound and interesting work of art

A total nostalgia trip for those of us who came of age in the era of scary Nickelodeon shows.

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