Monday, October 15, 2007

Thinking Small

Gossip Girl is no O.C., but it works. It works because each episode tackles a small event...a party, a photo shoot, a poker game. It doesn't attempt to throw in crazy, overly dramatic plots or expect its characters to go through giant changes over the course of an episode. It keeps it simple, and I think other shows could benefit from this approach. It doesn't mean the show has to be boring or inconsequential...if the show is truly about the characters, then their reactions to small situations can actually be very interesting and powerful.

Take Friday Night Lights, which everyone seems to be in agreement has changed this season. My roommate and I just watched "Homecoming" from the first season. Simple, normal things are alumnus returns in the hopes of getting a coaching job. Smash wants to impress a scout. Matt isn't sure if he should ask Julie out on a date. Tyra is planning a party. All these things happen every day, but they become powerful because of the characters, the subtleties, the subtext. We don't need murders, unrealistic living situations, etc. That's what I like so much about's normal, everday people in normal, everyday situations. You don't need spies and cops, you don't need bombs or murders or constant life-and-death situations.

I worried that my pilot might be too superficial or simple, since it's just a bunch of kids trying to run a radio station. But it involves friendship, power, love, disappointment, control. You don't have to be saving lives or fighting crime; these issues can come up when you're doing laundry or having a meeting or going to a frisbee party.


Josh said...

Jul and I have similar issues with Journeyman. Obviously the franchise is that he goes back in time to save people, so there's inherent BIG drama, but then they seem to feel the need to heighten the stakes of his marriage as well.

The first episode has him missing their anniversary. Another episode deals with the MC and his wife deciding whether or not to have a baby.

We barely know these people and you're already tossing the big stuff at us? Come on.

Small moments, people, small moments.

Amanda said...

Yes! Why must his marriage be falling apart in addition to his random time travel? Journeyman is such a downer. People are obsessed with time travel because we think it would be the coolest thing ever...but for Dan or whoever, it's a curse and it sucks. Boo.

Jane said...

I totally agree. I miss shows like My So Called life, where the big thing was "Oh, Jordan Catalano looked at me across the classroom today". And Gilmore Girls - nothing ever happened but I was always compelled by it. My pilot is also about the small things. I think after this year's crop of larger-than-life characters, drama will swing back again to real(ish) people living real(ish) lives. At least I hope so.