Faithful Readers Claude and Kimshum tip me off to this excellent post by John Rogers
Those types of shows are essentially shows about emotions. People in conflict, or breaking down. End of day -- as Wells et al have nimbly shown -- you can drop a conflicted group of humans into any high-stakes setting and reap the entertainment crop of angst. Breaking Bad is about temptation and sin -- Walter didn't have to make Meth. But the drug world is a great, high-conflict/high-risk crucible for an amazing staff of writers to use to show what happens, how a man breaks bad. Joss Whedon's shows are about identity, responsibility, family and failure -- it doesn't matter what setting he's in, it's just that sci-fi allows one to create extreme circumstances so to best draw out extreme choices and extreme consequences.
And then there are shows about systems. Specifically, systems in conflict, or breaking down. Law & Order is the platonic example, although most mainstream crime procedurals live somewhere in here. Disorder has come, sickness has come, corruption has come, and we crave the system to be set right. We are there for the riddle, the puzzle, the "click" of the solve. "Ahh, that's the solution." "Ah, clever."
Interesting, huh? Also, this:
All criticisms are products of unmet expectations.
Go and learn...
Labels: Crafty Screenwriting
If anyone's interested, that's from John Rogers' recent post discussing shows about emotions vs shows about systems and how the audience's responses consequently differ: LEVERAGE #404 "The Van Gogh Job" Post-Game, Part 1. (Don't balk at the title; the post has nothing to do with that episode, really.) There he says:
... ahh ... you know the best thing I ever heard, the thing I wish someone had told me when I was 20?
"Every criticism is the tragic result of an unmet need."
I think it's important when working in television to understand we are in the emotional need business.
The whole post is worth a read. As are the comments, where there's a very interesting back-and-forth about how to define Sorkin's shows.
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