English 1102: Television and Feminism

Dr. Casey Alane Wilson • Georgia Institute of Technology

Tag: music

The Power of Music in Relationships

Throughout Fresh Off the Boat, music serves as an important component in building relationships. The show tries to communicate that music preference plays a central role in friendship formation. One of Eddie’s primary distinctions is his interest in rap. Not only does it provide a conversation starter, but provides a sort of emotional connection through shared interests. Without actually saying anything, it demonstrates that the emotions strongly felt are shared between two individuals. This is extremely important in the context of building a relationship. Eddie utilizes music as a means to build friendships. One of the most significant occasions of this is in episode 11 of season 3, wherein Eddie struggles to connect with his cousin until they realize that they both share a passion for free styling. Not only does this provide a shared activity for them, but it also seems that Eddie has a newfound appreciation for him. After free styling, Eddie’s tone completely changes around him. This demonstrates the power that music has to be used to create a connection.

In episode 13 of season 2, Eddie makes a mix tape for a girl he likes. They initially started talking because of their shared taste in rap, so Eddie thought that creating a mix tape would help strengthen their relationship. Eddie fears talking to her on the phone, so he decides making a mix tape would, “do the talking for [him].” Eddie feels as if music can communicate his emotions. Music serves as insight into Eddie’s thoughts. It is a huge portion of his identity. In fact, in the episode, this girl becomes mad at him and she says, “Nothing you say is gonna…” and Eddie cuts her off with his mix tape. The music calms her down and she begins to understand him and eventually they make up.

Eddie making a mix tape

Overall, the show demonstrates how powerful music is as a means of connection. It easily communicates one’s emotions to another, regardless of any held beliefs.

Capturing Comfort

Every episode of Murphy Brown follows a similar setup in its composition. Most notable is the intro. Each episode begins with a focus on an individual character and is sound tracked by a famous soul song. This is the title sequence which plays the actors names. Many episodes have a meta component with the song choice as the characters sing along and the lyrics give the viewer a glimpse into what the show will be about. This important sequence shows the camera following the character around the room and highlighting the do mundane actions they take. The actions manage to display the characters emotions without any need for dialogue. In this particular episode (season 1 episode 21, “The Bickners”) Frank sits on elevator as doors open and close without exiting, when he finally moves he gets a muffin and throws away the edible part, only keeping the wrapper. In the background “This is A Man’s World”. As the camera often does when a viewer is supposed to perceive the actor’s emotions, the camera goes up close to face.  These scenes always end with a fade out of music and dialogue begun by another character entering.

Murphy Brown is a sitcom, and thus it follows the trend of having a laugh track. This is to aid in the humor. Whenever a joke is made at the expense of someone it zooms into their reaction. The show features many long shots, yet occasionally adds short ones to keep an interesting flow and follow conversations. In between major scenes, the show fades out to a video of the office building and then zooms into top floor, this is possibly to suggest the importance of their work and give the audience a concept of location.

The show has three settings, Murphy’s house, the bar (even though Murphy is a recovering alcoholic), and the office. It only strays from these when following a specific story. This creates a comforting feel. As with the similar settings, all episodes have generally subdued tones, with earthy browns, grays, and pastels. The way episodes parallel each other make Murphy Brown an enjoyable and easy show to watch. One that takes on issues yet manages to not be too aggressive about it and keep viewers comfortable.

Related image

1/3 settings: Phil’s Bar and Grill

while (true) families = shocked; or why Switched At Birth hits its viewers over the head.

In any television show, the pilot episode’s writing commonly establishes the viewer’s expectations and the plot’s quality for the entire series, and Switched At Birth is no exception. Unfortunately, though, Switched At Birth, with its lackluster writing quality and pacing in the pilot, establishes itself not as a quality family television series but instead as a series that attempts to create a multi-faceted cast yet instead repeats plot lines ad nauseam and overuses musical cues, even in scenes centered around Daphne, the Deaf character, to the point of cliche.

Even from the beginning, it is apparent that much of the appeal of the series relies on obvious mood-shifting music. For example, in the first few establishing seconds of the pilot, with no action on screen, the writer (Lizzy Weiss, also known for producing Blue Crush and Cashmere Mafia) actively includes upbeat music, thus quashing the usual silence, which would normally be welcomed, in order to attract viewers. However, within mere minutes, another set of depressant music was included in an obviously emotional scene which would usually be silent, to indicate the severity of the gripping sadness, while within the next minutes, lyrical anguished music played over Daphne’s anguish when viewing Bay’s house. Although music can, and oftentimes is, used as a theme-setter for varying scenes, when played so obviously, not only does the series destroy most silence, despite the episode being premised on John, Kathryn, and Regina’s contemplation of their lives’ total reshuffles, but in addition, the very music that would otherwise be reserved for the most tear-jerking scenes instead over-saturates every moment, thus trivializing the writing.

In addition, though, each character lacks any depth; Bay is always seen as the rebellious teenager, considering her love of graffiti, art, and counter-culture, while Daphne is universally portrayed as the accepting, grateful daughter willing to use any resources available to its fullest potentials, and Regina is continually portrayed as the fiercely protective parent. Again, it is perfectly acceptable for a single character to lack depth, but for main characters to be one-dimensional shows a lack of skill in writing.

Depressingly, this photo summarizes nearly all of Bay and Kathryn’s personalities, and their dialogues do not improve.

Admittedly, there are positive aspects to the pacing and writing of the series; for example, voice-overs are never used, thus allowing characters to speak for themselves, and dialogue transfers easily from character to character, thus creating a more natural ebb and flow between, for instance, Daphne and Toby (when playing basketball). However, overall, the pilot episode simply lacks subtlety in terms of character development or musical arrangement to influence writing, leading to a disappointing episode.


Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén