Promotional image for Q: Into the Storm (courtesy WarnerMedia)

Why do so many people believe in absurd conspiracy theories like QAnon, which asserts that someone in the Trump administration was sending secret messages about a cabal of cannibalistic pedophile Satanists who secretly run the world? The ongoing HBO docuseries Q: Into the Storm accidentally stumbles upon a pretty good explanation early on, when one interviewee points out how much has come to light about the US government lying to its people. What reason does anyone have to trust any official narrative anymore? But the show completely breezes past this suggestion, instead choosing to gawk at easy targets and fixate on lurid details.

Into the Storm loses itself in its own running time, playing out over six whole episodes when half as many (or even fewer) would have worked fine. It alternates between leaving elements of QAnon frustratingly unexplained and overexplaining things that should be obvious. (For instance, how imageboard users are called “anons” because … they’re anonymous. Yeah, no shit.) Its hyper-stylized portrayal of the movement seems just as likely to unwittingly attract people to QAnon as it is to repel them. Most frustratingly, it spends a lot of time hyping up the central story thread, around director Cullen Hoback’s investigation into the true identity of the enigmatic “Q,” just to come to the same conclusion which most other journalists have. Only none of those others took six hours to get there.

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New episodes of Q: Into the Storm are currently being released every Sunday on HBO Max.

Dan Schindel is a freelance writer and copy editor living in Brooklyn, and a former associate editor at Hyperallergic. His portfolio and links are here.