Review – Save Me (from people!)
Is this show a dark commentary on humanity? YES. Was it awesome? Yes… but it’s very, very dark, so light a few candles and pray for the soul of the world before you start viewing.
This is the story about how a family got sucked into a cult. It’s also a story about growing up, and realizing your parents aren’t the gods of our childhood. It’s a story about society, and how the struggle for power changes people. Power over your own life, power over circumstances, power over others. It’s a commentary on politics, religion, government, and the basic needs of humans – to be useful, to be happy, and to be safe. And at its heart, it’s a story about friendship. There’s a lot packed into this drama.
It’s not a pleasant experience, though. The drama tackled quite a few uncomfortable topics – from police corruption to political corruption, violent school bullying to murder, unbelievable cruelty to cold manipulations of others – both emotionally and physically. I’ve never seen anything like it. I’m not sure I want to again for a while, either. You’ll want to give your brain a rest after this intensity… maybe watch a Disney movie or something. Cleanse the palette, cleanse the soul.
Overall Rating – 9/10. Getting To New Heaven Is Hell On Earth.
Thoughts on religion, my personal opinions on the matter, and various musings follow…
If you grew up in a pentecostal church (that entails speaking in tongues, falling out in the spirit, exorcisms, extremely long services, and general weirdness), then this scene is probably familiar… an odd reflection of your own childhood, perhaps. I grew up in a pentecostal church – which forever tainted my view of religion… so just hold down your knee jerk reactions, religious folks, cause it’s something I don’t usually talk about and something that seems impossible NOT to talk about after watching this show.
Almost every episode of this show made me cringe… my subconscious pulling out long buried memories of having adults surround you, their hands on you as they prayed that whatever demons were in you would leave. It didn’t seem to matter how old you were, or how recently you’d been prayed over… everything wrong with you was the Devil’s fault and everything good that ever happened was credited to Jesus. Simple math. Trying to navigate the mysteries of pleasing adults was the biggest challenge of my childhood. There was a language to learn, a vernacular, a tone… the voice of God was particular. What God liked and didn’t like were also particular, and finicky and rather petty. You were special because you are in the right with the Big Guy in the Sky. Everyone else is wrong. If you questioned that, well, how did another demon get inside you? It’s a perfect system really, insulating and comforting… if you could stay in the lines. Unfortunately, even at a young age, nothing about me was within the lines – so I struggled.
Religion taught me to be a remarkably good liar. It’s not exactly rocket science, after all, to figure out what is expected of you. That’s rather the point of religion, to remind you, constantly, of what is expected. And allowed. And what isn’t. Why is it this way? Cause God said so. What about…? God is beyond our understanding, He’ll sort that mess out, that’s not your problem. Wait, what if…? Listen, it’s pretty clear. We’ve defined it according to our interpretation, and we know that’s right cause God talks to us. You better shape up, missy. Cause the other side of this argument is eternal suffering and damnation. Better to be on the safe side. Our side.
It took me a long time to finish this drama because it kept throwing me into introspection and the past. Save Me is not really a commentary on religion – not really. It’s about cults. But, in my opinion, all religions are cults. They have leaders, rules, extreme repetition and texts, and abstract promises that make you feel good… if you don’t question it. They give you answers to big unknowable things – Life, The Universe, and Everything – but the answers can’t be proved. You just have to believe it. And it takes some established structure and brainwashing to believe it. It helps if a lot of other people already believe it. Then it doesn’t seem so weird… the weirdness has become normalized.
The last episode of this show was profoundly satisfying and realistic. You can’t save everyone, can you? Not if they don’t want to be saved.
The characters in Save Me were very three dimensional and beautifully written. And by beautiful… I mean, half the time they literally made my skin crawl off my body. The other half, I felt like I was eavesdropping on conversations between friends, between family members, between coworkers. Everything felt so strangely natural for a show that was so unbelievably over dramatic and insane. That’s good writing and acting combined, peeps. When you forget you’re watching a drama and are that engrossed in a story…. you’ve got a winner. I think it’s impossible to really choose a stand-out performance, either, because everyone was so good. Talk about commitment to their craft! These actors went above and beyond. And the cast was huge, too. Not a small part in the lot, either.
I was researching the writer – cause, damn, that’s some great script writing, no? – and it turns out the show is based off a webtoon called Out of the World. Couldn’t find it in english, however… so I guess I’ll just stick to the drama version.
Anyways… there isn’t another drama like this. And probably never will be again. It’s a singular story. It reminded me of the feeling I had when I used to watch Twin Peaks or Northern Exposure growing up… in the back of your mind, you registered the unique voice, the unusual story lines, the strangely compelling but average characters thrown into wild scenarios. Just like those shows, I’ll probably never watch this show again… but I probably won’t ever forget it, either.