top of page

Review: I Saw The TV Glow

Updated: May 14

In the flickering glow of analog television, where reality blurs with fiction and the mundane merges with the supernatural, Jane Schoenbrun crafts a mesmerizing tale of self-discovery and connection in "I Saw the TV Glow." Building upon the thematic richness of their first film "We're All Going to The World's Fair", Schoenbrun delivers a film that resonates with haunting poignancy, exploring the intersection of identity, adolescence, and the transformative power of media.

At its core, "I Saw the TV Glow" is about the potency of storytelling as a means of navigating the complexities of our personal human experience. Set against the backdrop of suburban ennui and the magnetic allure of a cult television series, the film follows the intertwined journeys of Owen (portrayed with nuanced vulnerability by Ian Foreman and later by the transformative Justice Smith) and Maddy (a captivating Brigette Lundy-Paine), two outsiders drawn together by their shared obsession with the enigmatic show, "The Pink Opaque."

Schoenbrun deftly captures the palpable sense of yearning that permeates the lives of Owen and Maddy, both grappling with their own forms of isolation, body dysmorphia, and longing for connection. Through the lens of "The Pink Opaque," a queer-coded teen show not unlike "Are You Afraid of the Dark?", the protagonists find solace and companionship amidst the turmoil of adolescence. As they immerse themselves in the eerie world of the show, its resonances with their own struggles with identity and belonging become increasingly profound. They don't see themselves in society and so the characters in the show become icons.

What sets "I Saw the TV Glow" apart is its unflinching exploration of the liminal spaces between truth and fiction, self and other, reality and fantasy. Schoenbrun masterfully navigates these blurred boundaries, inviting the audience to delve into the depths of the characters' psyches and confront the unsettling truths that lie beneath the surface. The film's narrative unfolds with dreamlike logic, weaving together threads of nostalgia, longing, and existential dread into a tapestry of haunting beauty.

Central to the film's thematic tapestry is the profound impact of media on shaping individual identity and perception. "The Pink Opaque" serves as both a mirror and a catalyst for Owen and Maddy's journey of self-discovery, reflecting their innermost fears and desires with uncanny clarity. Through its evocative imagery and mythic storytelling, the show becomes a conduit for exploring themes of gender, sexuality, and the fluidity of identity.

"I Saw the TV Glow" is a deeply empathetic portrait of adolescence, capturing the tumultuous process of self-realization with raw honesty and sensitivity. Smith and Lundy-Paine deliver captivating performances, imbuing their characters with depth and complexity as they navigate the labyrinthine corridors of adolescence.

Visually, the film is a feast for the senses, with Schoenbrun infusing each frame with a lush, otherworldly aesthetic that evokes the ethereal glow of a bygone era. From the eerie suburban landscapes to the phantasmagorical imagery of "The Pink Opaque," every aspect of the film's visual design is meticulously crafted to immerse the audience in its hauntingly beautiful world.

Accompanied by an evocative original soundtrack and mesmerizing practical effects, "I Saw the TV Glow" is a cinematic tour de force that transcends genre conventions to offer a deeply resonant exploration of identity, isolation, and the transformative power of storytelling. Schoenbrun's visionary direction and the stellar performances of its cast combine to create an unforgettable cinematic experience that lingers in the mind long after the credits roll. With its rich thematic depth, haunting imagery, and stellar performances, it cements Jane Schoenbrun's place as a visionary filmmaker whose work resonates with profound emotional resonance.



bottom of page