I Saw The TV Glow Review

REVIEW: I Saw the TV Glow

In the mid-1990s, awkward seventh grader Owen (Justice Smith) meets ninth-grader Maddy (Brigette Lundy-Paine) at an afterschool event. Maddy is reading a guide for the popular teen show The Pink Opaque. While Owen hasn’t seen the show, he’s intrigued by a commercial he saw on television. Maddy invites him over to watch an episode.

The Pink Opaque is about two psychically connected teenagers, Isabel and Tara, who fight the monster of the week and a big bad named Mr. Melancholy. Owen enjoys the show, but after that evening, he doesn’t speak to Maddy again. While he doesn’t talk to her, she records the episodes for him. After two years, Owen finally speaks to Maddy again and agrees to go to her house again to see an episode. There is something very unsettling about this episode, and at the conclusion, Maddy draws a symbol from the Pink Opaque on the back of his neck. She attempts to convince him to run away with her, but Owen decides against it. Maddy disappears a few weeks later, and coincidentally, The Pink Opaque is cancelled. When Maddy suddenly returns eight years later, she tells Owen she’s Tara from The Pink Opaque. After telling her story about becoming Tara, she asks Owen, who she insists is Isabel, to leave with her so they can make it to the show’s sixth season.

I Saw The TV Glow Review

After this encounter with Maddy, Owen decides to watch The Pink Opaque as an adult and cringes at how lame it is. He goes about his life having his own family and working at an entertainment center for thirty years.

This film was bizarre and trippy. You don’t know what’s real or not. It made for an unnerving but different viewing experience. When Maddy returns and has an extended scene describing how she became a character in the show, it is pretty disturbing. That is the one scene I can’t get out of my head.

I Saw the TV Glow is heavy on nostalgia, in a good way. The film was made for adults who enjoyed watching freaky television series produced for young adults in the 1990s and 2000s. Some of the scenes in the fake show, The Pink Opaque, were very close to original scenes from shows like Are You Afraid of the Dark? Making the scenes from The Pink Opaque the same quality as television in the 1990s was such a smart move, and I loved that creative decision.

I Saw The TV Glow Review

I did have a slight problem with the acting. Both Smith and Lundy-Paine made interesting choices with the tone of their voices. Every time Lundy-Paine spoke in a deeper tone, I was reminded of Elizabeth Holmes, who faked her lower voice. It was pretty distracting, and I am not entirely convinced it worked.

The film mostly held your attention, but the end was a total cop-out. There was a chorus of scoffing and clicking of tongues at the end by all seven of us in the theater. The film just ended. I love a good old ambiguous ending, which I always mention. However, I would argue that the last portion thirty years later wasn’t even necessary. The ending impacted my overall impression of the film. I Saw the TV Glow was worth watching, and it prompted me to rewatch a series from the late 90s that I loved. While the ending was frustrating, I would still recommend this film simply because it differs from other new releases this year.

I Saw The TV Glow recently screened at Sundance London releases in UK cinemas on 19 July 2024.

Where to Watch

I Saw the TV Glow | May 17, 2024 (United States) 6.3


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