Thursday, June 10, 2021

Why Wandavision is like The L Word; and the Goods

Hot lesbians in The L Word

Once upon a time there was a tv show called The L Word. It featured sexy lesbians sexing other sexy lesbians. So it had two guaranteed audiences:  lesbians, and guys who like to watch lesbians. (Which audience is bigger is left as an exercise.)

This neatly freed up the writers of the show to write pretty much anything they thought was interesting, as long as there was some sexy sexing going on. And so they made the characters really keenly observed, flawed, slightly terrible people. Which made the show worth watching by anyone.

I feel like Marvel is getting to the same place. They've made, and they are constantly making, big boomy movies in which Avengers make things go boom. 

But they are also making smaller stories, like Wandavision, which is an offbeat study in mourning and denial. At least until the Big Witch Fight at the end when things go boom.

These smaller stories get lifted in the updraft from all the capes flying around. I don't know how many people would watch an offbeat study in mourning and denial starring Elizabeth Olsen as a real suburban housewife. But the Scarlet Witch in mourning and denial, that has a built in audience. She's the gal who nearly put Thanos down! She's arguably the most powerful Avenger! 

The point of all this is, you have your story, and then you have the goods you have to deliver. The goods you have to deliver can be tangential to the story. If you are writing a western, and you have some shootouts, and horseriding sunsets, and a barroom fight, you can write a portrait of a marriage gone sour. 

This is why cop shows are all over tv:  once you have a dead body and some investigating, you can get away with writing all sorts of character stuff.

This is why those Star Wars prequels were so successful: they delivered weird looking aliens, pod races, lightsaber fights, etc. They didn't have coherent stories, but people enjoyed the spectacle. 

It is indeed better if the goods you have to deliver play an integral role in your story. It is always, in the abstract, better if all the pieces support each other. A great story lasts; spectacle fades quickly. 

But that is not necessarily what makes your story popular. 

Ask yourself what goods you have to deliver. Make sure they are goods that people want, and make sure you deliver them. Have fun with the rest.

No comments:

Post a Comment