Making The Commitment To Relatable Storytelling
Many stories hit the “I Do” or “I Will” moment and leave the rest to the imagination, or they simply refuse to go there at all. Recently Bleeding Cool reported that Dan DiDio “told a packed hall at Baltimore Comic Con that heroes shouldn’t get married.” At Lightsaber Rattling, Troy Denning revealed that Jaina Solo was dragged through a series of unflattering arcs in the Star Wars Expanded Universe because her life as a useful Jedi within the stories would be over were she to marry Jagged Fel. Plenty of fans have challenged DiDio’s hardline stance, including Rob Bricken at io9 and Doug Barry at Jezebel. I’ve made my position clear on what I think about marriage, romance, and the roles family should play in storytelling, but just in case you’ve missed it links are provided below.
Marriage is a commitment, as is a vow to avenge someone’s death or an oath to protect a king or queen. Each of them can create stakes and vulnerabilities for characters that are relatable. Plenty of successful television shows prove that the “Moonlighting curse” is the stuff of fiction. Since calling out Bones for taking too long on the “will they/won’t they” drama, the Castle creative team pulled the trigger last week in its Season 6 premiere. In a TVLine interview, the team discusses the proposal, the long distance relationship, why women should be given fiction examples that prove they don’t have to choose between a relationship and a career, and how all that can create good drama.
TVLINE | Is there any larger theme to Season 6?
What’s emerging for us as a theme is “relationships and how to make them work.” Relationships are complicated, and for a long time Castle and Beckett were doing this dance of, “How do we feel about each other.” We’ve moved beyond that to a couple that’s made a commitment to each other, but that commitment is constantly challenged, just like it’s challenged in all of our lives. Now that they’re at this moment, now that she said yes, this season has become, “OK, how are we going to make this work? On a practical level. Given your life, given my life. Given where I come from, given where you come from. Given what my ambitions are, given what your ambitions are. How are we going to make this work?” We feel like that’s a very relevant question to our culture these days.
Over at The Hollywood Reporter, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. showrunners Maurissa Tancharoen and Jed Whedon talked about the challenges of doing a follow-up to the blockbuster movie The Avengers. They discuss characters needing to know their identity, living life under a Marvel NDA, and creating a show that appeals to both the general audience and established fans. Tancharoen and Whedon have captured Joss Whedon’s signature comedy that kept shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Firefly from becoming too grim during darker storylines.
THR: Is there one piece of advice Joss has given you about showrunning?
Whedon: He has a lot of good tidbits, but the main thing for him is that we build the story from the emotion first. He will not respond to the story if we pitch him the moves. He wants to know what the characters are going through and what they’re feeling. If we build it from that, we’re in a good place. Making sure that we’re putting them through their cases and making it realistic with how they’re reacting. The character is way more important to him than the other stuff, so those are our marching orders.
Tancharoen: The tagline “Not all heroes are super” is something he came up with on a car ride over to a meeting that we had with ABC to pitch the show. That is the heart of the show. It is about the little guy. It is about the person who doesn’t feel special because the guy standing next to him is able to punch holes in a building. If we focus on that and our main cast of characters, it’s going to be a really nice show.
Interestingly, the dynamic in The Avengers that made the movie so successful was that bond, dare I say almost like a family, that united the heroes at the end. Committing to something isn’t such a bad idea for storytelling.
Castle returns tonight at 10:00 p.m. and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Tuesday at 8:00 p.m.
Update: Tricia’s rule of blogging: Put up a post on a subject, and inevitably something new and really more insightful will pop up within a couple of hours. Today, Stana Katic, Kate Beckett of ABC’s hit show Castle, provided more thoughts on creating relatable characters and relationships, even marriage. She has previously provided great insight into storytelling, which I have referenced here at the blog. The highlights from her TVLine interview:
TVLINE | Did you have any concerns when you first learned this marriage proposal/job choice storyline was coming up at the end of last season?
No. I thought that this was the appropriate trajectory for the character. And I think it’s also a current topic, something that’s relatable for a lot of women today. Women are in the work force and are balancing a career and a home in ways that 30, 40 years ago people wouldn’t have tried — and they’re successful at it.
TVLINE | But you definitely didn’t want to see Beckett consider forgoing the job in the name of the relationship. You had a quote out there, that’d it make her a “loser.”
[Laughs] That was the extreme version of it, yes. But real relationships are not compromised because one person is having success in their career. Real relationships are compromised because of other things that are exclusive to problems that the individuals have. And if you can’t cross over the hurdle of “How are we going to make this work, while you’re having success in your career,” there are going to be SO many other hurdles that are more potent, more powerful and more important, that it doesn’t really make sense to continue that relationship.
TVLINE | I ask because some fans had the theory that he could figure into this D.C. storyline….
Yeah, there’s an interesting kind of mythology in that respect. For me, the main element [of Castle] is their love story, these two characters and what they mean to each other and how they come together and how they’ve grown. And then there’s the world around them with friends and relatives and all of that. But that’s all set against this backdrop of mythologies that we have left out there, and this is a great season for us to either resolve of further delve into some of those. One of them is the Bracken story, and another is Castle’s father — both high-stakes scenarios. And you wonder sometimes, why did these two people come together? Sometimes when we meet someone, it feels like we’re together because there’s a bigger cosmic purpose, and I wonder if there isn’t an even bigger thing than just the two of them really enjoying each other. Do you know what I mean? Like with Romeo and Juliet, they got together, they’re crazy about each other, but in the end their story changed everything for everyone around them.
- Caught in a Bad Romance
- The Fel Family: A Portrait of Awesomesauce – Part One
- The Fel Family: A Portrait of Awesomesauce – Part Two
- A Wildly Diverse Discussion All Sealed With A Kiss
- Seeking SFH: Kate Beckett
- Where’s the Love?
Tricia Barr took her understanding of brand management and marketing, mixed it with a love of genre storytelling, and added a dash of social media flare to create FANgirl Blog, where she discusses Star Wars, fandom, and strong female characters. She also writes about Star Wars for Random House’s science fiction and fantasy blog Suvudu.com and Star Wars Insider magazine and is a contributor for Her Universe’s Year of the Fangirl.
Tricia is putting the finishing touches on her first novel, Wynde – a military science fiction with a fantastical twist that features heroines Vespa and Gemini. For excerpts and tales of her adventures in creating a fictional universe, hop over to TriciaBarr.com.
For updates on all things FANgirl follow @FANgirlcantina on Twitter or like FANgirl Zone on Facebook. At times she tries the Tumblr.
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