Thursday, August 18, 2011

Everything I Need to Know About Life I Learned From TV

I'm writing a series of books that are character based-- one book is in final editing stages and a second one that has the first draft done, so I’m chugging along. I’ve even figured out the endgame for my characters which would be several books away. So I should be happy, right?

That might be a trick question. I’m not sure a writer is ever happy! But my real problem is that while I know where the characters will wind up I’m not sure how to get them there with the most amount of conflict and pain possible.

It’s been plaguing me. Instead of feeling sorey for myself (did you get that terrible joke? Did ya?) I decided that I should approach my plotting problem in the same way I approach my real life problems: What life lessons have I learned from tv and do they apply to my fictional world as well as my personal world? Yes, I live my life based upon things I learned on tv. And I’m proud of it. I’m an only child and the fictional characters I grew up with were kind of like my friends. Just be happy I grew up watching Star Trek the Next Generation which has good black and white morals instead of Oz.

There are a couple of go-to shows that I can unashamedly say have changed my life. Here are a few and the reasons why:

1. Seinfeld- (this was a close call as 1 and 2 are pretty dear to my heart) but Seinfeld is getting first place because it relates to so many of my everyday problems. (If I ever start killing monsters on my way home from the grocery store, this could change) How many times have I thought to myself, 'I flew too high on the wings of pastrami?' or wished I could cross out the size label on my jeans like Jerry did? A lot. Today, even!

Seinfeld-- George mixes food and sex with pastrami results

2. Buffy the Vampire Slayer-- I confess that I poo-pooed the show when it came out for the obvious reason-- I just didn't get it. Then I understood that you don't have to care about vampires and monsters to like the show, they are metaphors for life. You feel ignored? So does the girl who turned invisible! You want to be a bad girl and be five by five? Well, give it a shot but don’t be surprised when someone gets murdered. Or maybe you want to date that hot, much older vampire, but you're not 18? Don't sleep with him or he'll turn evil and dump your sweet young ass before you can say gypsy curse! See? Life lessons.

And here is a revelation that blew my mind-- Jerry Seinfeld and Joss Whedon have a lot in common. Jerry once said that the trick to parenting was to find what your kids love and take it from them—like the mafia.

If you've seen a Joss Whedon show (Buffy, Angel, Firefly, Dollhouse) then you know he wants to show you the happy ending, get you invested in it, and then rip it off like a band-aid glued to a hairy man—fast and dirty so it leaves a bald patch on your tv soul.

My JW band aid example? Buffy begins dating Angel, a vampire. They have a star-crossed- lovers thing that goes on for a while and then, they give in…yahtzee, Angel is a psycho killer who loves her just enough to hate her and want to kill everyone she knows and loves. Now that is good tv!

4. Arrested Development-- If you've never seen the awesomeness of the chicken dance, you need to. I've also adopted Gob's trademark line of, "I think I've made a huge mistake." It makes me happy even as I’m getting depressed about my huge mistake. Be it forgetting milk at the grocery store, a child throwing up on my new clothes, even writer’s block.

Chicken Dance link--

Do you have any TV shows and/or examples that have shaped your life? If so, I'd love to hear about it because it will make me feel better about myself. I don't like being the only person I know who needed prozac when Terminator Sarah Connor Chronicles got cancelled on an insane cliffhanger. And don't get me started on Veronica Mars. 

1 comment:

  1. Hi,

    I am loving your book so much that I don't want it to end. So I am supplementing it with your older blog posts =) We are also huge Joss Whedon fans too and found this a few years ago. We still giggle about it and quote it. I was going to post the whole thing but it was too long for this format. Anyways, just scroll down to April 13, 2007
    "UC-Sunnydale Class Notes"