AudienceComplications Ensue
Complications Ensue:
The Crafty Game, TV, and Screenwriting Blog

Baby Name Voyager graphs baby name frequency by decade.

Social Security Administration: Most popular names by year.

Name Trends: Uniquely popular names by year.

Reverse Dictionary Search: "What's that word that means....?"

Facebook Name Trees Match first names with last names.


April 2004

May 2004

June 2004

July 2004

August 2004

September 2004

October 2004

November 2004

December 2004

January 2005

February 2005

March 2005

April 2005

May 2005

June 2005

July 2005

August 2005

September 2005

October 2005

November 2005

December 2005

January 2006

February 2006

March 2006

April 2006

May 2006

June 2006

July 2006

August 2006

September 2006

October 2006

November 2006

December 2006

January 2007

February 2007

March 2007

April 2007

May 2007

June 2007

July 2007

August 2007

September 2007

October 2007

November 2007

December 2007

January 2008

February 2008

March 2008

April 2008

May 2008

June 2008

July 2008

August 2008

September 2008

October 2008

November 2008

December 2008

January 2009

February 2009

March 2009

April 2009

May 2009

June 2009

July 2009

August 2009

September 2009

October 2009

November 2009

December 2009

January 2010

February 2010

March 2010

April 2010

May 2010

June 2010

July 2010

August 2010

September 2010

October 2010

November 2010

December 2010

January 2011

February 2011

March 2011

April 2011

May 2011

June 2011

July 2011

August 2011

September 2011

October 2011

November 2011

December 2011

January 2012

February 2012

March 2012

April 2012

May 2012

June 2012

July 2012

August 2012

September 2012

October 2012

November 2012

December 2012

January 2013

February 2013

March 2013

April 2013

May 2013

June 2013

July 2013

August 2013

September 2013

October 2013

November 2013

December 2013

January 2014

February 2014

March 2014

April 2014

May 2014

June 2014

July 2014

August 2014

September 2014

October 2014

November 2014

December 2014

January 2015

February 2015

March 2015

April 2015

May 2015

June 2015

August 2015

September 2015

October 2015

November 2015

December 2015

January 2016

February 2016

March 2016

April 2016

May 2016

June 2016

July 2016

August 2016

September 2016

October 2016

November 2016

December 2016

January 2017

February 2017

March 2017

May 2017

June 2017

July 2017

August 2017

September 2017

October 2017

November 2017

December 2017

January 2018

March 2018

April 2018

June 2018


Saturday, October 16, 2010

Q. I recently pitched a pilot about a father and son serving inside an American humanitarian rescue & relief team. The son is more right-wing than his father, and resents his dad for pulling strings to get him transferred out of the Army and onto the team against his will.

People bumped on that. But don’t almost all leads in one-hour dramas find themselves in transition / in a situation they no longer want to be in? Whether it’s the onset of cancer (Breaking Bad, the Big C), being under investigation (The Shield), or a Marshall being transferred out of sexy Miami to backwoods county Tennessee ( Justified), isn’t it the whole point to start off with your character in a place that he doesn’t want to be?
Sure. The problem isn't the son's not wanting to be there. The problem is he doesn't want to be doing something we consider a Good Thing. That makes him a bit of a prick. (Most of us don't devote our lives to other people, but TV is more sentimental.)

On pay cable, your main character can be a prick (CALL ME FITZ, SOPRANOS) or a psychopath (DEXTER, arguably BREAKING BAD). But on broadcast, he can only pretend to be a bastard (LIE TO ME, HOUSE) but is really secretly A Good Guy.

Broadcast can show horrible things. But the good guys have to be Good Guys, and we have to want to wholeheartedly root for them. So you can have torture porn shows like CRIMINAL MINDS, but the cops are pure and good. Meanwhile on pay cable your main character has to be messed up in some way, and preferably despicable.

Needless to say the moral compartmentalization of the TV market is unfortunate for writers and viewers alike, because pay cable is also the natural home of serial narrative. I've got a bunch of serial narrative ideas, but unfortunately their protagonists have some good qualities. Meanwhile when I come up with procedurals, the main character is sometimes a bit of a prick. Neither of these combinations seems to work. It's either despicable people in serial narrative, or pure people in procedurals.

I'm exaggerating to make a point, of course. But not as much as you might think.

Labels: ,


I think it has to do with the transient nature of the broadcast viewer. If someone is dropping in and watching only some of the episodes then the showrunner can't afford to have a more conflicted and complicated character. If the audience can't find any person to root for in that particular episode then they tune back to a CSI episode and relax.

The cable networks have a smaller but more dedicated audience that will watch every episode- investing the time it takes to see more than the sociopath.

By Blogger Clint Johnson, at 8:03 PM  

Post a Comment

Back to Complications Ensue main blog page.

This page is powered by Blogger.