English 1102: Television and Feminism

Dr. Casey Alane Wilson • Georgia Institute of Technology

Tag: Dialogue

Jessica Jones’ Suspenseful Writing

Dana Baratta wrote most of Jessica Jones season 1, but today I am going to analyze just episode 5. Baratta is known for writing several other shows such as The Secret Circle and Red Widow, but Jessica Jones is definitely what she is most famous for. She is responsible for most of the dialogue in Jessica Jones which is one of the most important aspects of the show.

The dialogue in Jessica Jones helps define the show and make it the great show that it is. Whether it be dramatic pauses or heated arguments, the dialogue helps add to the characters and plot to make the show amazing. Everything each character says fits in perfectly with their persona which helps make every conversation impacting and meaningful.

Most of the dialogue this episode is between different characters, but there are several points in the episode where there is no dialogue at all for a few minutes over a scene. Silence is used in this episode to make certain scenes more intense or scary for the viewers. These scenes are usually when Jessica is spying on someone or if there is a fight or chase. There is usually music or background noise during these scenes. This leaves the viewers to react in their own way to this scene and add to its suspense.

Jessica Jones Scene

During this scene, Jessica follows her neighbor Malcolm while he meets with her enemy Kilgrave. This is all done without dialogue, which makes certain parts awkward and others intense.

There are several flashbacks in this episode which gives certain characters more character development and lets the viewers know why some things are happening. Flashbacks this episode are primarily used to give viewers more context on Jessica’s past and add to her character.

Overall, the dialogue in this episode of Jessica Jones is mainly just people talking to each other with several flashbacks to give context. There are no voiceovers this episode, and there is rarely ever one in other episodes. Jessica Jones relies a lot on silence and the show wouldn’t be what it is today without it. This show relies solely on conversation dialogue and silence to keep it going and its viewers engaged.

New Girl’s Nitty Gritty Witty Writing

What would television be without masterful writing? Each television show has a different style of writing that makes it unique, and it is ultimately up to the writers (along with the director) to create a show that resonates with viewers. New Girl does just that, through its witty writing and attention to nitty gritty details that ultimately add a relatable humor to the show.

In the writers’ room for New Girl

In season 6’s “Last Thanksgiving” episode, the gang gets together for a holiday (because they are ~family~). However, chaos ensues as Jess tries to tell Robby, her handicapped friend, that he needs to stay in the friend zone. Schmidt’s father’s cheating scandals make matters worse, and Nick’s girlfriend bales at the last minute. In “James Wonder”, Winston takes on the alias ‘James Wonder’ for no apparent reason other than that he was bored. So while lying about his personal and professional life to Jess’ coworkers, Winston finds himself in a bit of a pickle, but he manages to get himself out of it and help Jess gain the trust and respect of the parents at the elementary school she works at. Are these plot lines ridiculous? Definitely. But, they are written in such a raw, witty way that the viewer can’t help but look past the absurdity and empathize with the characters.

“Last Thanksgiving” was written by Elizabeth Meriwether and Joni Lefkowitz. Meriwether is most well known for her writing for New Girl, No Strings Attached, and The Squid and the Whale. Lefkowitz is best known for Saw, Chasing Life, and Life Partners. Writer Ethan Sandler wrote season 6 episode 8, “James Wonder”. Sandler is known for his writing in Meet the Robinsons, The Bourne Supremacy, and The Princess Diaries. The dialogue is fast paced; jokes are quick, so the viewer either gets it or doesn’t. There is no voice-over, the viewer is intended to be a part of the gang. The writing reflects how the plot is heavily based upon the relationships between the main five characters.

Liz Meriwether, creator, writer and executive producer of new comedy series ‘The New Girl’, takes questions during a panel session at the FOX Summer TCA Press Tour.

Silence is used in many meaningful ways in these two episodes. In “James Wonder”, silence is used to show anticipation and the unknown after Jess made her ‘running for principal’ speech. She clearly thought the audience would not like her speech, and the silence included served to emphasize that point. However, what is most prominent about the writing is its wittiness. The writing in these episodes had a quick and inventive humor that is distinct to the show and its aesthetic. In “Last Thanksgiving”, Schmidt acted very similarly to Buddy the Elf, wanting to spend a ridiculous amount of time with his father participating in holiday festivities. The spats of dialogue and spars between father and son exemplify this wittiness in the writing.

Friendship is what ties this show together! They love each other!

New Girl is its writing. The viewer quickly realizes that friendship is what ties this show together. The viewer wants to be a member of the gang with Cece, Schmidt, Winston, Nick, and, of course, Jess. But it is the writers that make that occur.

The Backstory of the Hilarious Dialogues of New Girl

New Girl is a show that is known for its simple and hilarious jokes. This episode of New Girl called “Cece Crashes” is written by Rachel Axler. She has also written episodes of How I Met Your Mother, Parks and Recreation and Veep, which are all shows that are somewhat similar to New Girl. The dialogue is structured to maintain a constant dialogue between the characters. There is not a voiceover on the show unlike some others, so there isn’t a narrator to fill in the gaps. Since this show is light in terms of plot, a narrator is not necessary. Shows usually use voiceovers to inform the audience about the plot or more about the characters and what they’re thinking. But in this show, it is usually pretty evident on the motives and situations of the characters.

Silence is usually not very apparent in the episode. When there is silence, it is usually to set up an interaction between two or more of the characters and to create a sense of build-up in the plot line for the episode. Otherwise, this episode was very dialogue heavy. Especially since this episode created a high amount of tension between Jess and Nick, there was a lot of dialogue especially from Jess about her dilemma of having a romantic relationship with one of the guys that she lives with.

Finally, the writing of the show always seems very natural. Sometimes, in sitcoms, the writing, and dialogue is usually somewhat forced and awkward because the writers try too hard to be funny. The humor is always forced but in New Girl, merely the interactions between the characters are what makes the show humorous and it is very easy to watch. The writing is along the style which I prefer which is why I choose to review this show. I am very excited to see all the jokes New Girl has in store for the rest of the season (:

Jess/Nick and their quarrels

Keeping It Interesting: The Writing in Fresh off the Boat

I chose to  talk about the writing in episode three (of Fresh off the Boat), “The Shunning”. Since the show is based on a memoir, Eddie Huang gets some credit for writing. He has also written for Bitch, Please!. The main person credited with this episode is Nahnatchka Khan, who also wrote episodes for American Dad, Malcolm in the Middle, and Don’t Trust the B—- in Apartment 13.

It is sometimes easy to forget while watching TV how much time and effort goes into creating each and every show

The most unique component of the writing in this episode (& the thing that sticks out most to me) is the voiceover by future Eddie. Not only does it provide recaps and background information, it represents the inner dialogue of young Eddie. When Eddies gets an idea, like how he thinks getting a woman  will gain him respects with the neighborhood boys, the idea is explained in the voiceover from Eddie’s perspective.  This is  not super typical in shows, but I always prefer shows with narration like Jane the Virgin also has. It is very well done in FOTB, which is important because a memoir is personal thoughts and that can be hard to display through external dialogue, but a nice balance of voice overs and character dialogue makes for a well-done TV series. In the show you never have to worry about NOT knowing Eddie’s opinion about something or someone because the voiceover clearly states his opinions. Specifically in this episode, at then end his attraction to Nichole (neighbor) is VERY evident even though there is not external dialogue to prove so, it is all narrated by future Eddies.

 

The external dialogue of the episode is also unique because it is composed of mostly quick comments rather than long conversations. For example, when Emery is introducing his TWO girlfriends, they immediately both comment how they are okay with it (very funny scene). Also, what is becoming a common theme is Jessica (the mom) firing away quick comments to control her boys like “go to your room” or “go do *insert random task*”. This technique keeps the show fast-paced and interesting, which is what it takes in the modern television era to keep viewers.

 

The episode doesn’t use silence as  a major component because often instead of silence a couple beats of music play to bring it back to the idea that Eddies LOVES rap music. Speaking of rap, this is a major external reference in the episode. Eddies looks to rap music as his guide because it is his anthem (especially when it comes to his love life). The episode also alludes to NASCAR because that is the event that draws the whole neighborhood together for a block party and it serves as a major plot element. Eddie’s struggle for love, Jessica’s fight for her friendship with Honey, and Louis’s promotion of his restaurant in the episode all occur at the block party for NASCAR viewing (which is very stereotypically American).

Fantasy or Future?

West. World. Here we are again traversing through mankind’s Manifest Destiny of any possible pleasure imaginable — in front of a Utah desert backdrop with thousands of humanoid robots and hundreds of interlaced scripted stories. This wild-west glutton buffet is the brain child of co-writers and husband and wife Lisa Joy and Johnathan Nolan. In the first episode, we see the dynamic of Johnathan Nolan’s previous works in Dark Knight Batman movies, Terminator Genesis, and Interstellar as well as Lisa Joy experimentation with her works Burn Notice (a spy termination narrative) and Pushing Daisies (a reincarnation-concept based show) battling with an affectionate humanistic narrative that rises from their relationship as a family and the parents of two young kids. SPOILER, the androids start to realize they are merciless victims of the customers in the park when one of the android’s scripted priorities is to protect the android daughter at all costs.

Westworld makes us ponder our very own existence by putting viewers in the androids’ shoes.

Westworld is a matrimonial tightrope walk in between Elon Musk’s belief that we are living in a simulation and his warnings about the power of artificial intelligence to become smart enough to manipulate people to satisfy their own interests. The dialogue structure in the episode and the series blend the power struggle perfectly. The makers interact with their work like they are one of their own. One of the stand out lines comes from a creative director of the robots, Lee, when he questions, “Do you really want to think that your husband is [having sex] with that girl?” These heated debates among the creators of Westworld and their invention brings a humanity to their supposed omnipotence because they themselves can’t figure out the borders to what is morally acceptable in their park. What if fulfilling your desires involves getting emotionally attached to something that is just supposed to be an object? The inventors are no longer in complete control of their own work.

A Westworld prostitute developing a enticing lip stroke after remembering her sexual experience.

The last resort that the creator’s of the park do have are “pausing” the androids. This is the only effective way the writers of the show are able to detach you from how human-like and independent the robots are. These periods of silence are not only haunting in the instances of when the father of the daughter android, Peter,  tries to attack the creator of Westworld, but also the only layer to prevent you as a viewer from getting attached to the androids and rooting for them just like another customer of the park.  Physically, the creators of  Westworld still may have power but their is no omniscience in the realm of speech. Everything is a fair game. The down-to-earth style dialogues in the show leaves yourself thinking yourself if your own consciousnesses is just a figment of imagination and whether or not we are supposed to replace ourselves with a more — not so artificially — intelligent being as a simple demand of evolution.

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