Happy Friday the 13th KSR! In some news that better suits this date than that of its actual announcement on Tuesday–FX released that it is currently developing an American Psycho series for television. While talk of a movie remake had circulated since late in 2011, and a musical adaptation is in fact opening in London, December 3rd of this year, FX is also interested in bringing Patrick Bateman to television.
The show will take place in the modern day, and will feature the primary character of Patrick Bateman in his 50s, around 25+ years after we first met the 27-year old Wall Street investment banker. The original American Psycho film (2000) is based upon the 1991 cult novel by Bret Easton Ellis, with Bateman being played by Christian Bale.
FX plans to adopt this series as a sort of sequel to the film in which Patrick Bateman decides to take on a protÃ©gÃ© for a, “a next generation American Psycho,” according to the official release. Hopefully it’s not Mila Kunis.
The show will be written by Stefan Jaworski, who wrote some Nordic noir series (those words are gibberish to me when put together) called Those Who Kill; the series will be produced by the president of Lionsgate, Allison Shearmur.
In recent years, spin-off shows of classic horrors such as Bates Motel and Hannibal have found a footing on both cable and network television, spawning a higher quality product than I could have imagined prior to their release. Similarly, the “serial killer” theme has been very successful outside traditional TV venues, the Showtime series, Dexter, being the most obvious.
Despite the fact that one of my favorite channels, and the birthplace of the bizarre and haunting (pun!) series, American Horror Story, is handling the American Psycho “tv sequel,” I am highly skeptical of it remaining true to the Bret Easton Ellis source material, or of it making the high-quality, stand-alone show from its themes.
Both the novel and 2000 film (spoiler alert) leave the audience guessing as to whether or not the bevy of brutal murders actually occurred or were simply in Bateman’s mind. Yet it sounds as though FX plans to simply focus upon the serial killer aspect of American Psycho, taking it literally and more concretely, rather than as viewing it as a social satire.
When Ellis published the novel, his third, in 1991, it was highly polarizing, with many social groups hailing it as a misogynistic and overly violent work. Despite this, or perhaps because of it, the book gained a strong following, which led to it becoming a film 9 years later.
The best murder free American Psycho scene.
American Psycho is far more than a story about a Wall Street serial killer. It takes a rather Marxist philosophy on the de-humanization of man in a capitalist social system, leading a human to become a shell of his true self, driven only by market forces and the search for meaning through excessive consumption (sex, drugs and designer suits, rather than rock n’ roll).
The primary character, Bateman is clearly a psychopath, a stereotype of many of those in “Wall Street” environments of highly-developed capitalist system; extreme competition in all spheres of life leads to the commodification of everything, including other humans (and especially women). The alienation of Bateman from himself and those around, literally he and his closests friends can’t tell one another apart, created a “serial killer”; he felt powerless, empty, and enslaved to economic circumstance, despite and due to his wealth and prestige. This led him to act out violently (though not necessarily literally) against business rivals, prostitutes, random strangers, and a homeless man, as they were merely objects to him.
Being driven by a vanity, narcissism, and a desire to accumulate wealth, or a penthouse overlooking Central Park, rather than by self-realization, creativity, and meaningful relationships, Ellis’s Bateman is a cut and dry metaphor about the dangerous and unnatural state of the modern “yuppie”; it’s exemplified through this image-crazed and maddened character.
Bret Easton Ellis (finally) spoke out about how he related to the character of Patrick Bateman in 2010:
[Bateman] was crazy the same way [I was]. He did not come out of me sitting down and wanting to write a grand sweeping indictment of yuppie culture. It initiated because of my own isolation and alienation at a point in my life. I was living like Patrick Bateman. I was slipping into a consumerist kind of void that was supposed to give me confidence and make me feel good about myself but just made me feel worse and worse and worse about myself. That is where the tension of American Psycho came from. It wasn’t that I was going to make up this serial killer on Wall Street. High concept. Fantastic. It came from a much more personal place, and that’s something that I’ve only been admitting in the last year or so. I was so on the defensive because of the reaction to that book that I wasn’t able to talk about it on that level.
Whether FX creates a show that is reflective of American Psycho‘s social, economic, and psychosexual commentary, rather than simply relying upon the flashy “slasher” appeal of a Christian Bale look-alike killer remains to be seen of course; I am going to be cautiously optimistic of the outcome.
Although Bateman’s character could simply become a less relatable Dexter, the source material’s popularity should motivate the showrunners to create a better final product than Kanye West did with Scott Disick. Yeezus, that was the worst.