I was so psyched the other day to start viewing a new comedy series. The premise held great promise (Oooh, I like that – premise promise), and the accomplished actors were sure to carry the show. Snacks in hand, I was totally prepared for some binge watching. The pilot episode? Hmmm, okay. My enthusiasm waned a bit. Not far into the second episode, my excitement completely fizzled. How disappointing.
At first I couldn’t pinpoint exactly why I lost interest, until I realized what had been missing – the emotion! There was no emotion in the show! The actor portraying the protagonist didn’t really seem concerned about her situation. Despite every predicament she was in, she remained cool as a cucumber. Sure, she twisted her face in surprise now and then, but I was pretty certain she would be okay no matter what happened to her. And you know what, that’s not okay in a show! The stakes need to be high enough that we are sincerely concerned for the character. Plus the character needs to care. If she floats along through her struggles in some sort of Xanax-ed haze, there’s nothing there for me to sink my teeth into as a viewer. The character needs to care in order to make me care.
Honestly, watching people handle their problems with confidence is not interesting. We can see that around us every day. What viewers want to see is people failing, dealing poorly at times with all the crap life throws at them, and muddling through the muck to finally learn a lesson. A sticky situation in a show is not enough. It’s how the character handles themselves in the situation that’s so fun to watch. We spend all day controlling our emotions and doling out vanilla reactions to real life. An amplified reality is entertaining. I recognize this from the reactions of the audience when I’m performing onstage in an improv show. People want to experience something new, see someone act out their secret fears and feelings.
When I sit back and click the remote, I want to see emotion, people, emotion! I don’t think I’m alone. Ugh, I turned off that show, so now I have left-over popcorn. It’s kinda stale. Want some?