My biggest problem with Sharp Objects is that it is not a July show. It looks like a July show at first glance, sure. The new HBO drama is set in southern Missouri in the dead of summer. Everyone is sweaty (very sweaty) and sticky (very sticky). At times it feels like the on-screen humidity is so powerful and oppressive that it might start leaking out from behind the screen into my living room. It’s easy to be tricked into thinking we are dealing with summer content.
Please do not let the on-screen temperature fool you, though. The mercury lies. Summer shows are about a mood, a feeling, and the heavy subject matter and general tone make Sharp Objects better suited for a different time of year, one where it gets dark early and you don’t feel a pressing obligation to shave your face or legs and you are psychological prepared to dive into a bleak murder mystery. My first thought was that it was best suited to, say, late October or November, but that pushes the season finale up against Christmas. That won’t do either. Sharp Objects is a January show.
HBO has a habit of doing this, too. It’s a result of their Sundays-only scheduling practice (which might be on its way out). When you’re only running one or two big shows at a time, things can get slotted into goofy places. Sharp Objects had to wait until Westworld (an October show that debuted in April for some unknowable reason) was over before it could start. This means that, come August 12, when Succession (a March show that premiered in June) ends and Ballers (a May/June show) takes its place at 10 p.m., your next few Sunday nights will roll straight from a scar-covered Amy Adams solving child murders to The Rock and a dozen models doing shots on a yacht. It’s madness.