As with Juan Carlos Medina’s The Limehouse Golem, my fondness for TNT’s The Alienist is derived in part because I’m just into this kind of story: Gothic or Gothic-adjacent procedurals, where the protagonist(s) stare head-on into a darkness they’re ill-equipped to fathom due to the constraints of their era they live in. Not that anyone living in 2018 would have a dramatically easier time wrapping their brains around what might motivate a person to stalk the streets of New York City and butcher boy prostitutes, but at least today we’re more advanced in our knowledge of criminal psychology, which I assume helps.
Maybe not. Doesn’t matter, though! The Alienist isn’t set in 2018. It’s set in 1896, as dictated by the show’s source material, Caleb Carr’s 1994 novel, which to no one’s surprise is also called The Alienist. I have quibbles with the series, per my review for WBUR’s The ARTery, but the design elements and the cast, comprised of Daniel Brühl, Dakota Fanning, and Luke Vans, have me hooked.