The key to a good trailer lies in its balance, and be it a mid-tier movie or the most anticipated prestige TV, a trailer can make or break many things, especially with the overabundance of stream-worthy content. Over the years, many mediocre shows have pulled audiences in with their trailers, with the perfect voice-over, right music, and well-paced sequences, albeit some of them out-of-context.
A great example is the trailer for Ryan Murphy’s third season of American Crime Story: Impeachment, which explores the Clinton-Lewinski scandal that led up to the President’s dismissal from office. The trailer wastes no time setting up the context and dives straight into what happened, offering a stylized but sensitive re-telling of something culturally important. But not all trailers are this well-edited or even this sharp. In fact, some of them are long-winded and prone to over-sharing.
10 Brooklyn Nine-Nine
Designing comedy trailers for TV is no cakewalk. It’s hard to convey the tone without sharing crucial information about the characters. But B99‘s season 1 trailer gave away way too much information, especially about the dynamic between the characters.
As a cop comedy, the show’s trailer could have instead worked with montages of the team’s on-field investigation or focused on some cases to build up the suspense, with some funny out-of-context moments thrown in. But the first trailer, which established the show’s premise, revealed everything there is to know from the playful dynamic between Jake and Captain Holt, Amy’s uppity antics, to Charles’ haplessness and Gina’s sense of humor. When the show’s pilot aired, the viewers already knew exactly what they would get.
9 The Vampire Diaries
The first trailer of the vampire romance, The Vampire Diaries, gave away some very crucial details about the love triangle between Stefan, Elena and Damon. The trailer was quite well put together and teased a lot of action and drama, which is an accomplishment considering the first season was the tamest season of the show.
But the trailer made it obvious that Elena would eventually be attracted to Damon and it also teased Katherine’s doppelganger connect. So, viewers knew two very crucial plot points by the time they started watching it.
8 The Night Manager
Suspenseful TV shows like The Night Manager have a lot of scope for designing intriguing trailers without being too evasive. The show isn’t just a spy drama but also offers political commentary, an exploration of the arms industry, and takes a look at modern espionage.
But the trailer was rather sloppily handled, and basically outlined the entire show’s premise, which was not needed. The biggest plot point the trailer ruined was how intelligence agent Angela Burr (Olivia Coleman) had hired Jonathan Pine (Tom Hiddleston) to infiltrate Richard Roper (Hugh Laurie)’s operations. The trailer also teases Pine’s affair with Roper’s partner, Jed, which could have been a great twist if the trailer hadn’t revealed it.
Shows like Younger that are anchored by one issue or one big secret cannot afford to have long, comprehensive trailers. But the trailer for the show gave away almost everything about Liza’s life, how she tried to return to the job space after a divorce, how and why she lied about her age to get a job, her tryst as a publishing intern, her dynamic with her demanding boss, and even offered a pithy look at her new single life in New York.
To be fair, the show still looked interesting enough for viewers to actually tune in, but comedies like this definitely need to retain a sense of unpredictability. It’s never a good thing if the viewers know exactly what is going to happen in the first two episodes and that’s exactly what happens with Younger.
6 Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
A five-minute trailer is a no-no, irrespective of how pathbreaking the show is. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend took some major risks by doing a few things completely different than other TV series, not just with its plot but also its approach to mental health, and the trailer for season 1 is extremely detailed.
It reveals not just why Rebecca is obsessed with Josh but also why exactly she chose to move to West Covina. the trailer also doles out some information that could have been easily kept under the wraps, like Rebecca’s relationship with her BFF, Paula, or her fling with Greg. In fact, the trailer even gives away the exact text message Rebecca sends Josh after she moves to California, and it comes across as quite pointless.
The British comedy reunited comedians David Mitchell and Robert Webb, who are famous for their collaborative work in Peep Show and sketch comedy That Mitchell and Webb Look. For British television, it was perhaps the most anticipated reunion and yet the trailer for the show gave away every crucial plot point, except perhaps the climax. A 40-something Stephen is set to take over the family pub in Gloucestershire after his father’s death, when Andrew, a former foster child briefly raised by Stephen’s parents, returns to renew his connection with his family.
The trailer for the first season reveals everything from Stephen’s struggle to keep the business afloat, his distrust of Andrew, and his realizations about his parents’ open marriage. This was quite unnecessary because the show could have easily teased tension, conflict, and comedy with a tighter and more restrained trailer.
Medici‘s 5:50 minute-long trailer does the show a major disservice. No other TV show had attempted to accurately tackle the Medici family history in such vivid detail, and there are many nuances in the show which needed to be kept under wraps for the viewers. The Medicis weren’t just bankers but also patrons of art and, at one point, the most important family in European history.
The trailer seemed to have been designed to give away as much information as possible within five minutes, so it reveals exactly what Cosimo finds interesting about the sculptor Donatello, how he is forced to marry Contessina as a political alliance, his difficult relationship with his father, and the uprising against the Medici’s during later part of Cosimo’s ‘governance. If the show was made today, the trailer would have definitely been crafted more intelligently to keep the audience guessing.
Sherlock‘s first trailer was basically a synopsis of its first episode, give or take a few events. A lot of TV dramas often tend to break down how two characters meet (which usually happens in the first episode), but it takes away a lot of intrigue from the build-up of the show.
There was a lot of anticipation surrounding Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sherlock, and John Watson’s post-war PTSD was a smart, grounding touch that really helped the narrative earn credibility as a modern re-telling. But the trailer reveals exactly how John and Sherlock meet, and even introduces the viewers to Sherlock’s mysterious older brother, Mycroft, which could have otherwise been a nice surprise for the viewers.
2 True Blood
The trailer to True Blood‘s first season did not do justice to the show’s one-of-a-kind universe. The show had a lot to offer, but the trailer played around with some vampire stereotypes when it could have showcased so much more.
But the one thing that came across clearly was Sookie’s mind-reading abilities, which really didn’t have to be spelled out in the very first trailer. Sookie is seen reading everyone’s thoughts in the bar she worked at, and though it added to the suspense, this aspect could have been explored in the trailer more subtly.
Succession‘s trailers are all exceptionally well-made and by the second and third seasons, the trailers got a lot sharper. But the trailer for the first season, perhaps in an attempt to be more intense, disclosed quite a lot. The fact that Logan Roy’s children are clashing becomes very obvious, but in a show named Succession, one could probably guess some amount of inheritance-driven drama.
The trailer gave away the dynamic between almost all the family members, how Logan himself felt about his own position and his empire, how he feels about each of his children, and how Siobhan’s political ambitions are a source of tensions within the family. It was stylized and well-paced but should have held on to some of its more crucial details for the viewers to discover later.