Monday, April 22, 2013

Currently Reading: The Eleventh Plague

Let's Talk Relationships

As a writer, I think it's important to at least keep a casual pulse on what's popular, what's trendy, what's keeping people talking.  While I don't want to write to trends - if I never have a book with a black cover, I'll be okay with that - I do want to pay attention to what it is that's making people invest their time and emotions in a popular television show or book series.  To keep things simple, rather than trying to dissect every single popular book out there, I'm looking at television today.  Next time, I might stop and chat about Code Name Verity (friendship), The Bodyfinder series (friendship that grows into something more), and The Hunger Games (action alongside a "triangle).

Most of the time, what I've discovered, is the characters and their relationships are what move people from casual fans to devoted followers.  Whether it's a brotherly bond (Supernatural) or romantic relationships (The Vampire Diaries), the dynamics between the characters seems to be the key talking point among viewers.

Supernatural has been around for a long time.  While it has occasionally lost its way, the show's always managed to get back on track and find its footing, largely, I think, because of the very nature of the show.  There's always another monster under the bed or in the closet or hiding behind the curtains.  We watch as Sam and Dean (and those friends who repeatedly make an appearance....I'm looking at you, Castiel) fight the "bad guy" and also interact with each other.  Their relationship evolves and changes as they face challenges together - normally winning, but not claiming victory every time.  The one constant is their brotherhood and their determination to make sure the other survives to fight another day.

Supernatural is the Nancy Drew of CW.  There's always another case to solve.  (And I think that's a good thing.)

Now we move into what's kind of a sore subject for me....The Vampire Diaries.  It has several commonalities with Supernatural.  Both have a pair of brothers.  Both are on the CW.  Both have been around for a few years.  But something's intrinsically different about TVD.  At its core, the show's central focus is a triangle.

Which will she choose?

That's all well and good...for a while.  But, when even the main showrunner suggests that the final answer won't come until the end of the series, when does that focus become too narrow, too repetitive?

Personally, I think we crossed that bridge a while ago.

As long as the viewers know there will be no choice until the end of the series (and that's still a long way out), the emotions they have invested in the show become a bit tedious.  No matter how hard a fan roots for a couple, it won't last...a decision can't be made because that's the whole premise of the show. The key driving force is HER decision...and I don't think that's really a good thing.

It can work in a book series with a finite end.  It can be written into a movie.  But when a triangle is the key element around which other plot devices revolve, it weakens the whole show.

I recently suggested to a friend that a decision needs to be made so the show can move on.  The friend responded that it can't simply be a story about "happily ever after" and I quite agree.  However, watching the three main characters push and shove and try to prove which is the most worthy gets laborious and repetitive.  The "happily ever after" needs to only be a side plot among the newer drama...

And what new drama am I talking about?  I honestly don't know.  I keep reading interviews that the story isn't told yet...and the journey in front of the characters is still long.  I hope that somewhere along the line, that journey becomes more than "will she or won't she" and "were her feelings real or not" because I think there's some plot out there to be explored that doesn't revolve around which brother's bed Elena's sleeping in.  (We saw a glimpse of that possibility in the promo for the new "Originals" series - see how cool something can look when the focus is something other than a romantic relationship.)

Because building an extended series - any type of series - around a focus so tight as a romantic triangle really does a disservice to the audience.  Romance is fun (it should be...I write it), but it also need to be balanced - and have a sense that there will be an answer...and not just someday when the book comes to an end.

Sorry.  I just had to get this out of my brain and onto the page.  I've had some medical stuff going of late, and I've had a lot of time to ponder and dissect things while staring at blank ceilings.

Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to read.