I'm watching season 1 of The Magicians, after watching like half of season 2 with my parents the other day. And there's a lot to like about this show, but the thing that really stands out to me -- not as a positive, or even necessarily as a negative, just as like a "Wow y'all made some choices and ran with them" is the color grading. The lighting in this show is A. Lot.
Here's New York City:
Here's the magic school:
Here's the doorway between them:
Here's nighttime right before opening a magic door:
Here's 3 seconds later:
Here's 3 seconds after that:
I don't have anything really deep or analytic to say about this. I've seen things where I've been really amazed with how they use color. This isn't that. This is more like you can look at the screen at any moment and know exactly how you're supposed to feel. (In order: bored by the mundane, comforted, a sense of wonder, suspense, wonder again, nauseous & horrified.)
It makes me think of hbomberguy's recent YouTube video "The Power of VHS," which posits that TV as a medium is meant to be consumed passively, without giving it full attention.
The lighting in this show feels expertly designed, not to add a new layer of information or aesthetics that aren't present elsewhere, but as a sort of reconstruction device for lost data: to cue you in on what's going on if you got up to get a soda and came back to a scene change.
All of which is to say: I really don't like the lighting in this show. I find it hamfisted and at times a little nauseating. But I'm also really, really impressed by the thoughtfulness, experience and expertise that must have gone into these choices -- not to make the show deeply rewarding and enriching for close, attentive viewing, but to make the show accessible as a form of low-effort entertainment.