Month: June 2017

Tears of Clarity…and pursuit.

Tears of Clarity…and pursuit.

When the topic of “good” writing for television comes up, I always ask one question: Would you rather watch motivated characters triumph over tragedy, or would you rather witness someone solve a crime or a case? Maybe you enjoy both. Maybe they aren’t mutually exclusive. There really is no correct answer, but in all honesty, all primetime television can be categorized under those two umbrellas. So, why do YOU become invested in a show?

Let’s talk This Is Us for a moment. Hands down the largest hit of the previous primetime season by a significant margin. Why? Well, many would say this: “It’s a show about normal people solving problems.” Sure, you could say that. But actually, I would argue the opposite. It is not simple at all. Dan Fogelman found a refreshing, impactful way to portray how our past experiences influence our ability to walk through life as imperfect humans. No one is simple, and no one is normal. Obesity, insecurity, infidelity, dishonesty, and love – these are elements of struggle that the show tackles. Sure, it’s all fiction. But well-rounded characters that are motivated to make their lives better? That, my friends, is non-fiction. That is clarity. Clarity that we are not alone in this pursuit of happiness. 

Lastly, we close with an iconic, critically acclaimed drama that lived 6 years at NBC: Parenthood. No “viewer discretion advised” warning needed. No cliffhangers. No shocking murders. Briefly, let’s name a few storylines: teen pregnancy, Autism, financial troubles, infidelity, family feuding, parenting, and forgiveness. Oh, and when season 4 comes around, we can add breast cancer, career changes, and divorce once you reach Season 5. Many people who might pick crime dramas or case dramas would ask me: “why would you put yourself through Parenthood? Too sad. Why would you want to cry watching TV?” My answer to them was simple: They are tears of clarity. Tears of motivation and empathy. Every single one of us can identify and empathize with one of the themes listed above, and THAT is why we watch. More imperfect examples of people powering through tragedy that might just make you approach yours a little differently.

So, all in all, isn’t that what every writer wants? A story that reminds a reader or audience member that he or she is not alone. A story that provides clarity for someone who needs a friend. A leading character who often mirrors the mistakes we make on our own journey. As Bob Dylan tells us in Parenthood’s theme, “may you always be courageous, stand upright, and be strong.” Yes, Bob, we will do our best.

Which TV-Watching Personality Are You?

Which TV-Watching Personality Are You?

Okay, now that we have covered some deep material here, it is time to have a little fun. We all watch TV. Well, for some of us, that means we watch the Super Bowl and maybe the Grammy Awards. MAYBE. For many of us, however, we dabble in many different types of television. Most importantly, we are proud of it. So, which one are YOU? 😉

  1. The Bashful Binge-er

    Binge watch doryOkay, so maybe you aren’t bashful about it, but I just love alliterations. If this is you, you are an extroverted introvert. You decide when you would like to save the entire weekend to watch the ENTIRE Gilmore Girls revival. You like being social…SOMETIMES. You also LOVE to wait for the entire season to be put on Netflix in June. And you watch them all very quickly. You might occasionally watch one live if a friend invites you, but you truly love your bed, your laptop, and a glass of wine. Binge-away!

  2. Reality Rachel

    Reality rachel memeAlright, time to fess up, Rachel. You don’t care how many people poke fun at you, you LOVE The Bachelor. Who needs scripted character development? Oh, wait. The Bachelor is scripted. SPOILER ALERT! Anyway, you also love J-Lo’s World of Dance and Dancing With The Stars. You might even consider dabbling in ABC’s American Idol reboot. MAYBE. So, Reality Rachel, am I right?

  3. Catch-Up Carly

    Far behind memeWell, Carly, you try. We give you credit. You really do try. But, if there is a work function this Thursday, you go for the open bar. If your Tinder date asks if you are free, you say YES. And lastly, if your friend’s cover band is playing down the street, you go. You miss the episode. Hell, you might miss 2 weeks in a row. Now, you are tempted to just join in with the second half of How To Get Away With Murder because your friend just ruined the cliffhanger for you. Goodness, Carly, catch up already!

  4. Cathy Cable

    HBO memeOkay, so Cathy Cable has a point. Cable shows rock, not to mention they often fill most of the nominations during Emmy and Golden Globe season. The Walking Dead, Girls, Game of Thrones, Big Little Lies…..the list goes on. Graphic, intense, gruesome, brutal, honest, and passionate. Cathy Cable knows what’s up. You aren’t messing with primetime precautions or catastrophic commercial breaks. Did I mention I enjoy alliterations? You go, Cathy!

  5. Primetime Ponderers

    LIve tv memeLive, live, live! Your twitter is out. You’ve already tweeted your fellow fans. Your wine is poured, and you don’t make ANY plans. THE NEW EPISODE IS YOUR PLAN. No one can call. No one can text, well, until a commercial. You’ve thought about the episode at least twice at work today. Also, you have watched ALL of the previews that were released on the Facebook page. You might even follow a Tumblr fan account and secretly look for spoilers. You love live TV. And better yet, you make a blog about the power of live television and the impact it has on audiences worldwide. 😉

Well, which one are you? Sound off in the comments below by clicking on the title of the article!

Escapism or comfort? Maybe both.

Escapism or comfort? Maybe both.

On December 17th, 2015, my first year of teaching, I was spat on by a middle school student. Yes, human spit. I tell you this only so that you understand the exact moment that I needed to find another passion. A focus, a goal, an additional aspiration that had zero ties to my career. You know, a dream.

Storytelling through screenwriting became that dream when I decided to sit down that night and “escape” from all the things that had happened to me at work. Teaching is, well, just ask a teacher. But make sure you have some time and a bottle or two. Anyway. I turned on episode 1 of Grey’s Anatomy. Now, we all know that this show has been on for years. 13 seasons, to be exact. Nevertheless, I was told it would help me ESCAPE. “You can watch to take your mind off of the kids,” a colleague said. Hmm, that’s how it started, I suppose. I gave it a try.

ESCAPISM, to me, is a passive approach to television. Television that passes the time, provides a laugh or two, or maybe even a tear. A distraction, a form of relaxation. You might be working on something, but it is on in the background. But don’t you ever have a book that you simply cannot put down? A movie that you can hardly breathe normally through? An episode you’ve been waiting all week for? That, my friends, is comfort. You have become so actively invested in a character, a storyline, or a chapter that you MUST tune in. You MUST. And we are comforted by this journey with these characters. It is inspiration and motivation from a completely fictional realm. It is no longer a distraction or something that you may or may not see that week, it is a NECESSITY. It satisfies your hope for something greater, your need to witness failure, and better yet, your enjoyment in a fictional triumph. It is comforting to have that to look forward to.

So, I’ll leave you with this. What show or movie gives you comfort? Clarity? Motivation? There are characters created by screenwriters worldwide that come from a paper, a pen, and a post-it. But for me, these characters become flawed, wildly imperfect beings trying to figure out what it means to be human. And to love every minute of it. Live television gives us that week-to-week suspense, that necessity in our life to believe that one day we can fight, fail, battle, cry, laugh, and love as tenaciously as these fictional beings do. That hope for a good outcome. The best part? We get even more excited when the outcome is the opposite of what we expected. Like everything in life, right?