Will “The Purge” Work as a Television Series?

Matthew Loffhagen
(Photo: Universal)

So, “The Purge” is coming to the small screen for an all new TV series filled with gore and violence in a world where laws don’t exist.

In theory, this sounds like a fairly solid idea – these movies have always been low budget affairs because their premise of normal people murdering each other for sport doesn’t require any flashy visuals.

If anything a “Purge” story works best when it’s bereft of any big name star or big explosive action setpiece – these stories should feel gritty, grounded, and real, without any of the Hollywood gloss that too often coats horror stories, robbing them of their individuality.

The Purge TV Series
Source: Universal

The problem with a “Purge” television series, though, is that despite being inherently personal, street-level ordeal, The Purge is meant to be an event. Ordinary, every day people wait patiently for this national holiday every year, counting down the days as one would to Christmas.

This is part of the reason why “The Purge” works as an ongoing movie series; the films have, to a certain extent, become events that fans await eagerly in a bizarre real world parody of the movie world’s own internal rules.

It’s safe to say that all of that excitement and hype disappears once a Purge of sorts happens on a weekly basis.

Sure, it’s easy enough to fix the narrative problems that a TV show based on “The Purge” creates. The action will have to take place “24” style, with the entire season taking place on a single day.

The problem, though, is that unless audiences binge watch the entire series in one go, they’ll be dividing up the experience. “The Purge” will stop being a long-awaited event, and will become a weekly occurrence, losing a lot of its novelty and significance in the process.

Purge TV
Source: Universal

This could even damage the movie brand long term, as over-exposure to the entire franchise causes people to lose interest in everything “Purge” related.

While the show will air on USA Network and SyFy, there is one way that a TV show could have worked. The Netflix model, of dropping the entirety of a show all at once and allowing people to binge the entire season, would suit “The Purge” perfectly.

Alas, this isn’t going to be the case, and we’re simply going to have to wait, and hope that a weekly “Purge” experience doesn’t become as tiresome as it sounds.