English 1102: Television and Feminism

Dr. Casey Alane Wilson • Georgia Institute of Technology

Tag: writing (Page 2 of 3)

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.

Writing about Writing

The writing in Broad City is always very strong and funny. Particularly, in season 3, episode 7, the writing simultaneously explores two directions for a night ending that are completely different as Abbi and Ilana leave the club without each other. Abbi goes through an epic and eventful night that she is not proud of. Meanwhile, Illana sleeps with Blake Griffin and has a night that is more comical as Griffin is shown to be the perfect person. The writing is impressive as the viewer feels for Abbi who was robbed and laughs as Griffin and Ilana interact in over the top ways. Few shows have writing that can elicit more than one emotion effectively. The Ilana and Griffin storyline seems to have come straight from a Female writer’s fantasy. There interactions begin with both bringing up that they need to stretch before physical exercises which they both decide is getting undressed. Griffin undresses, censored to the audience, and Ilana laughs for a very tense time as Griffin crosses his arm. Later revealed to the audience that Griffin is too big, the two get creative with yoga and other clearly non-sexual activities til both climax. Their pillow talk includes Griffin talking about how women’s basketball is better than men’s and saying that women make everything better. As good as the scene is, an individual writing that amuses me more.
As always the show makes multiple callbacks near the end of the episode, similar to the function of a callback in stand-up comedy, it reminds you of how smart the writers are. As impressive as they are funny, it reminds you all the places the episode took you and that you accepted that two regular people went on a ridiculous journey often spanning large areas of New York.
The writers articulate the purest forms of comedy in their writing for Hannibal Buress as Lincoln, a dentist with a mind that scopes and works like no other. There is not a scene he is in that does not bring me to laughter.

See the source image

Here is Blake Griffin swaddling Ilana Glaser because his member is too big for traditional goings on.

A Little Too Lighthearted

Episode five of Fresh Off the Boat is written by Sanjay Shah, who has written six other episodes of Fresh Off the Boat and five episodes of King of the Hill. Like all other episodes of Fresh Off the Boat, this episode features a voiceover, which is Eddie Huang’s thoughts as he remembers the events taking place. He clears up his thoughts at important times and gives some extra information we might not know as we progress through the show.

The writing of this episode is very similar in structure to that of the other episodes. A main story arc is introduced and concluded within the same episode, with smaller conflicts along the way. Also like the rest of the series, the humor in the episode is very persistent. I definitely enjoy this facet of the writing. It keeps me engaged and gives the show a very lighthearted and fun tone.

Sometimes the show’s focus on being comedic gets in the way, though, of which this episode is a very good example. The episode’s major conflict involves sexual harassment, and by extension sexuality. Louis is forced to give Eddie “the talk” after a sexual harassment video makes its way through Eddie’s school. This talk is shown in one scene in which Louis mentions that one of the reasons he came to America was so that Eddie could have a more liberal experience with sex than he could in Taiwan. But that’s about as far as it goes. Following that, the scene is composed of a bunch of jump cuts to other parts of Louis’s talk, all of which are comical in nature. Eddie’s voiceover in this scene expresses his gratitude that his father didn’t use the corny school-issued book to teach him about sex, which is something of a viewpoint that the writers may be expressing. However, I don’t think this can be read into very far, since the talk Louis gave was once again the punchline to a joke.

Louis gives Eddie “the talk”

This is a problem for me- the show brings up an important topic and begins to dive into it, but then cuts itself off and doesn’t really bring the discussion anywhere. It’s honestly confusing to watch, since I can’t tell what’s supposed to be a statement and what’s a joke. It leaves me unsatisfied- the show opens up a lot of very good opportunities for the writers to use their medium to convey a message about something important! But instead, they opt to keep the tone very lighthearted and cover things up with more jokes. This tendency is observable in other episodes, too. I understand the want to keep the tone of the show light and comical, but it still leaves things to be desired since the show by nature has a lot of important issues it can address.

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.

 

Fresh Jordan’s… Fresh Writing… Fresh Off the Boat

“Home Sweet, Home School”, the second Episode of Fresh off the Boat, really sets up the way the rest of the show will operate based on the style of the writers. A team of four is responsible for writing this episode, including Kourtney Kang (known for her role as a producer of How I Met Your Mother) and Eddie Huang, the focus of the autobiography and the narrator of the show. I think part of what makes this show so interesting is that Eddie narrates his own past life. He knows exactly how he felt in the moment and how he feels now that he’s grown up. As much insight as this offers, it’s also valid to check ourselves with how much we trust him- I mean he is writing out his life for the world. The combination of he and Kourtney Kang in writing this episode makes for an interesting personality in the writing- with her Emmy nominated comedy writing skills and his life experience it really makes the show a worthwhile watch both as a social commentary and as a chill binge watch.

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the best of both worlds ;)

This show is absolutely filled with noise. There is literally never silence. Even when the character to character dialogue isn’t going, there’s Biggie, Stephen King movies, NASCAR races, 90s hip-hop, and restaurant chatter in the back. The amount of constant noise makes the show really full and fun to watch. AND DON’T EVEN GET ME STARTED ON EPISODE THREE
My goodness, when Evan did the voice over of the white moms talking at the neighborhood meeting, I laughed harder than I have in a while. Between the hip-hop tracks which emphasize Eddie’s moods, the clapback narrations, and Evan… well, being Evan, this show doesn’t stop with the jokes. The writing of this show is just absolutely on point for the message of it. The constant allusions to quintessential American favorites- Whitney Houston, Biggie Smalls, Karaoke, NASCAR, Blockbuster, block parties, basketball, denim jorts, and Jordan’s- make this show what it is. Hilarious.

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Jessica having her Whitney moment #mood

The “Personality” of Annmarie Morais’ KillJoys Episode

Throughout season 1 and 2, the different episodes of KillJoys were written and directed by various people. Although the central theme and storyline remain constant within season 1, if we look hard enough the “personality” of each episode can often be found here or there.

Today, I’ll be writing about the “personality” – writing aspect of one of the episodes in KillJoys, S1 E6, “One Blood”. Without a doubt, this is one of the episodes I believe to be the most interesting to analyse.

Written by Annmarie Morais, directed by Michael Nankin, the episode “One Blood” first aired on July 24, 2015, follows Dutch and her teams’ journey as they respond to a Black Warrant for a rogue Killjoy – Big Joe, who was wanted for stealing from company ships. It was later revealed that he had stolen a genetic bomb (although it is believed that he did not know what it is). After overcoming various obstacles, and revealing reasons, Dutch and her team finally finds Big Joe who in the end was voluntarily killed.

 

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Big Joe After Being Found By Dutch

 

To understand how and why a television show is written in a particular way, it is essential for us to understand the lead writer’s background. The writer of our episode, Annmarie Morais was born in Jamaica in 1973 to a Jamaican-Canadian family.  Annmarie Morais works as both a writer and producer and have won the Nicholl Fellowship in Screenwriting in 1999. She is well-known for her involvement in hit TV shows such as Killjoys (2015), How She Move (2007) and Haven (2010). From a quick look at her profile, we can easily notice Annmarie Morais has been involving greatly in television shows featuring a “strong” and inspiring female lead character.

 

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Annmarie Morais

 

Annmarie Morais’ involvement in Killjoys and her leading role in episode 6, which we are focusing on, certainly brought in her style with her. This can be seen in the episode through how Dutch faced one obstacle after another; first disagreements within the team, then finding out her target is her respected mentor, afterwards getting abducted, but still staying strong and assertive throughout. This is pretty much unlike the other episodes by different writers where Dutch would often fall back a bit and have her team take over the lead such as that of “Sugar Point Run”. Furthermore, the whole episode is written with Dutch as the centre of focus throughout while for other episodes it’s usually an equal split between Dutch and her teammates. Moreover, the discussions between characters in also considerably more dominated by Dutch in this particular episodes, especially when she holds the monopoly over the decision making.

 

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Dutch and Her Team

 

Although Annmarie Morais is not known as feminist, her toughness and strong female character have indeed leaked into her writing, making her episode of Killjoys filled with its own kind of unique personality, just like her other television works. However, how much of this is due to Annmarie Morais’ influence and how much is from the writing team as a whole is certainly debatable.

Wynonna Earp? More like Wynonna Sucks.

The writing in Wynonna Earp is mediocre at best, specifically the character writing. Not only are the characters all tropes, but they are also written in an incredibly boring manner. I will focus in on Episode 2 to give a closer look at how sucky the writing truly is.

 

I’d like to start first with Agent Dolls, a character so one-dimensional every conversation he has is the same. To be fair, it does not help he only interacts with one character, Wynonna, but he still fails at having any character traits other than serious. Dolls is ALWAYS talking about work and he ALWAYS sounds threatening. Most of the time he is talking to Wynonna, who is never serious, but even when he has a chance to talk to another character, he fails. When Officer Haught comes in to his makeshift office, he threatens her with death if she ever barges in again. Dolls is a simple character whose only motivation appears to be destroying the demons. Even when Dolls has a redeeming moment, saying he argued against the destruction of the town in New Mexico, the show does not explore it in any depth. Unfortunately for the show, Dolls is a totally weak character with no unique qualities.

 

Wynonna, the title character, is not written much better than Dolls. Admittedly, she does have more than one side. She has two sides. Wynonna’s first side is when she is speaking to Dolls. Here the show writes her as the exact opposite of him. When he is strict, she takes events with levity. Wynonna’s responses almost always consist of some wise-crack that usually fails to include any semblance of humor. I think the show is trying to portray her as a bad-ass that doesn’t take orders from authority, but instead she seems like an asshole. Dolls is usually trying to help, but Wynonna just makes a stupid joke. Wynonna’s second side is used when she is talking to her sister, Waverly. In these interactions Wynonna actually seems like a real human being. She speaks like a normal older sister would to her little sister, except she can’t resist cracking jokes. For some reason, the writers have Wynonna make wise-cracks while she is comforting her sister. Overall, Wynonna is a failure as the main character of the show. She has a flat personality and she fails to be even a little funny.

An example of Wynonna’s terrible one-liners

How The Bold Type Writes About Tough Issues such as Gun Control

In the episode titled “Betsy”, Sutton Brady’s hidden shotgun is discovered by Jane Sloan. Pitched by writer Matt McGuinness the episode intended on showcasing two perspectives on the gun debate but according to the showrunner Amanda Lasher, aimed to approach the often polarized subject with a more personal stance (Britan).

“We felt really strongly about normalizing those conversations about gun ownership and taking it out of the political so we could make progress on this issue…“And as long as we stuck with our guiding light by doing it through the lens of the friendship and the girls’ experience, we thought we would be OK.” – Amanda Lasher ( showrunner )

The episode focused on writing parallel stories of Sutton’s reliance and safety behind her gun and Jane’s distrust and fear for guns. The Bold Type deliberately used a debate like setting by placing a meaningful dialogue between Sutton and Jane while using Kat, Ryan, and Jacqueline as moderators. This structure enables the audience to hear both sides of the argument while also understanding both the characters on an emotional level through the medium of their strong friendship ( that thankfully could not be broken by this debate).

Ryan’s conversation with Jane on this issue is one way the show draws parallels between Jane and Sutton’s differing stance on gun control. Ryan pitches the question, “What do you think will happen with her gun in your apartment?” to which Jane replies, “I am going to feel uncomfortable in my own apartment.” However, Ryan rebuking this statement by saying Jane’s argument is weak and encouraging Jane to try harder to understand Sutton’s viewpoint shifts the conversation back to Sutton’s perspective implicitly hinting that perhaps Sutton too will feel “uncomfortable” in her apartment without her gun.

Although the show often attempts to occur within our reality and while this episode name dropped plenty of current events such as the Parkland and Vegas mass shootings, the episode does not exploit these events. Rather than writing in a traumatic crisis to the storyline, the show explores the issue of gun control in a more small-scale angle through the relationships of its three best friends. It does not stray far from its characters. From having Sutton name her gun Betsy to explaining why Jane is so apprehensive about being near a gun, the show allows its characters to explore the topic of gun control in a more personal level.

Sutton showing Kat and Jane what she likes about skeet shooting

Work Cited

Bitran, Tara. “’The Bold Type’ Boss and Star on ‘Normalizing Conversations About Gun Control’.” Variety, Variety, 18 July 2018, variety.com/2018/tv/news/the-bold-type-gun-episode-sutton-1202872954/.

What Family Actually Means… Writing in Sense8

The idea of family is one that has been present throughout every episode of Sense8. How could it not, when each character is linked by a bond stronger than that of any sibling or spouse? This is a theme that is often explored by the show’s writers, and comes to the center of the show’s attention in season 2 episode 9, “What Family Actually Means”.

The episode was written and directed by Lana Wachowski, along with her sister, Lilly Wachowski- the duo behind The Matrix, Cloud Atlas and numerous other sci-fi movies and tv shows.  In “What Family Actually Means”, the Wachowskis explore the idea of family, and, as the title may suggest, what it really means for people to call each other family. Almost every scene in the episode, save maybe for Wolfgang’s carryover from the bruhaha of the last episode, ties directly into the idea of family. From the beginning of the episode, we see Nomi giving a powerful speech in which she describes how her sister was there for her when she needed her the most, despite having done everything that she could to push her away. This, Nomi tells an unfriendly audience, is what family really means: people who are there for you and love you unconditionally.

As the episode goes on, we see more definitions of what family is, and what it is not. We see Sun’s disgust at a poster of her brother beneath the words “Family is our business”. He had let Sun take the fall or his embezzlement, thus putting himself and the family company over the well-being of his own sister, deftly defying the notion that families look after one another. Will and Riley also uncover additional familial transgressions, as they find out that Angelica sold out members of the other cluster that she birthed to Mr. Whispers to lobotomize. The horror of this is solidified with the apparent suicide of the doctor who had facilitated it over what she had done. Turning back to positive examples of family, the audience is shown how Dani, practically family to Lito, drags him out of his depression and gets him an interview with a Hollywood producer for a film that she thinks will be perfect for Lito. She stayed up all night reading hundreds of scripts because she was dedicated to Lito and determined to get him back on his feet. We witness Nomi’s family, her girlfriend, her sister, and her father all come together to defend her from the FBI agent bursting into her sister’s wedding. For the first time, Nomi’s father stands up for her and refers to her as his daughter. This leads us to another notion about family, that despite internal issues, you always stick together in the face of outsider attacks.

This scene also introduces another aspect of the show’s writing, the feminist devotion to portraying many types of people and their daily realities. In the wedding scene Nomi’s girlfriend calls out the FBI agent for interrupting the wedding just to “Satisfy his male ego”. Additionally, we constantly see the tension between Nomi and her family over the issue of her being transgender. Lito’s career is struggling because he is a gay actor who wants to play masculine roles. We see Kala struggle with gender norms and the fact that a brilliant friend of hers had given up science to become a homemaker. These are all very real issues that people face because of who they are and the show does not hesitate to depict them.

Finally, the reality of grief and loss is depicted as Will loses his father and we see all of the moments that they had shared together and realize that families do not last forever.

Will cannot be there in person for his father’s last moments.

 

Only The Real Ones Will Know

One special episode of Broad City that represents its uniqueness in comedic writing is the fifth episode of season two, titled “Hashtag: FOMO.” The writers of this episode are the stars Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer, who co-create and write the show as well as having co-created and written the web-series of the same name.

Abbi and Ilana 

Having the main stars write this episode is ideal because much of “Hashtag: FOMO” is Abbi and Ilana scrambling around the city from party to party trying to spend the best time, all while progressively getting more drunk as the night goes on. In this episode, the dialogue is structured mainly around Abbi’s and Ilana’s funny conversations and interactions with others. While there is a writer’s crew and a set script that the Broad City creators follow, the dialogue in this episode is structured in a way that reveals how unstructured the entire show really is. Abbi’s and Ilana’s conversations exude a feeling of familiarity where their perfect chemistry on screen makes the writing flow more naturally. The audience can take it as them improvising their dialogue, but Abbi and Ilana wrote this episode to truly show the natural conversations between two close friends, which makes it all the more relatable to the show’s demographic of millennial viewers. The unstructured feeling of the dialogue within this episode matters because the viewers get to see the true bond of friendship between Abbi and Ilana, which allows the concept of female friendships to be aimed at more than one specific demographic of viewers.

What real friends ask each other

While Broad City strays away from the tropes of typical comedy shows, Abbi and Ilana utilize “easter eggs” throughout the series to appeal to the observant, frequent viewers of the show. “Hashtag: FOMO” has a great example where towards the end of the episode, blackout-drunk Abbi drags Ilana to a underground speakeasy where the patrons receive Abbi warmly. Ilana is bamboozled, and Abbi assumes a persona unlike her named Val, a daring performer with a mid-Atlantic jazz voice who the audience loves. This easter egg refers back to the season two premiere where an old lady shouts “Val!” to Abbi on the subway, much to Abbi’s confusion. The audience does not know the context of Val until later, which shows how Abbi and Ilana write the show as if they are living in the moment alongside the viewers. There is not any dramatic irony between Abbi and Ilana and the viewers, but rather with Abbi, Ilana, the viewers, and the surroundings of the show. As the writers of the show, Abbi and Ilana use these easter eggs to create a more satisfying world where past actions influence future events, almost like real life. That is why “Hashtag: FOMO” is a standout episode of Broad City. The unstructured dialogue and the witty easter eggs create a hilarious episode where Abbi and Ilana find out more about each other than they ever knew.

Ilana shocked at Val 

How to Write Suspense if You’re Actually a Director

I want to take a moment to explore suspense as a genre. Alfred Hitchcock, arguably one of the greatest directors of the twentieth century, was a pioneer in the genre and laid much of the groundwork for how suspense is portrayed in a modern context. Hitchcock established a framework for creating suspense. Within that framework he juxtaposes two important points: an informed surprise (dramatic irony) and a twist (an actual surprise). Let us apply these two techniques to explore the writing on S1E6 of my resident review topic, Search Party.

Season 1, episode 6 (The Secret of the Sinister Ceremony) of Search Party was actually written by the show’s creator and show runner, Sarah Violet Bliss, and is one of the few episode of the show she doesn’t direct. Bliss has also written several other episodes of the show, as well as an episode of the Wet Hot American Summer revival, the movie Fort Tilden, and a handful of short films. This episode is an interesting exploration of how she writes suspense, and how it compares to her directing.

Dialogue in the episode is written mostly as conversations between two characters. Through this, Bliss employs Hitchcock’s first tactic beautifully. No one character is given full context about what is going on. Dory and her friends have no idea what this cult-esque dinner party riddled with too many pregnant women is about. No one at Bellow & Hare bothers to tell them exactly what “the Moment” is, so we assume the obvious: murder (particularly Chantal’s). We’ve got the perfect bomb under the table situation until – boom! – Dory accidentally walks in on a live birth.

The Secret of the Sinister Ceremony strays from the forged path of the show and does an excellent job tying up several loose ends. Take, for example, the opening scene of the episode where Dory is making a “crazy wall” in her apartment. At the end of the episode, the wall becomes the major plot point, as we discover the sinister note left for Dory and company in the middle of it: STOP LOOKING FOR CHANTAL. Here Bliss leaves us with the classic cliffhanger ending, encouraging the viewer to dive headfirst into the next episode. Nevertheless, she manages to tie in groundwork established int he first minute of the show. It’s not like Dory makes that crazy wall and it’s never brought up ever again.

Pretend this is Alia Shawkat and not Charlie Day

I think the most compelling thing about this episode is that it’s written how the show is directed, for the most part. Violet Bliss is directing a thriller, and Search Party is her vessel. The direction of this film, while it adds to the general suspenseful mood as one watches, is second to the way that key details are hidden throughout dialogue and character interaction. Every twist and turn has us at the edge of our seats, but we could probably see them coming if we paid more attention to the writing.

Works Cited:

Truffaut, François, and Alfred Hitchcock. Hitchcock. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1967. Print.

Willful Writing

 

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When words fail, fries and wine will do the trick! A few fries might have aided me in the writing of this very blog post…

In today’s blog post, I will be discussing the willful writing of Shonda Rhimes, in Season 1, Episode 3 of Scandal, “Hell Hath No Fury.” First, I will define “willful” so that the word has appropriate meaning within the context of this blog post. The definition of willful I will be using is, “deliberate, intentional, or done on purpose,” rather than, “a strong sense of will or stubbornness.” Throughout this post, I hope to show you that Rhimes’ writing obtains a very deliberate and intentional purpose.

For this specific episode and the entire series, Shonda Rhimes is credited with the writing. In addition to writing  Scandal,  Rhimes has also written other TV shows such as Grey’s Anatomy and Private Practice. Rhimes is credited with the production of other widely popular shows like How to Get Away with Murder and Station 19. She also wrote Crossroads, a film about singer, Brittney Spears. Finally, last but certainly not least, she wrote my absolute favorite movie of all time,  Princess Diaries 2: The Royal Engagement!!! Needless to say, Shonda Rhimes has a very successful, and almost unrivaled, writing career, especially in the female television writer and producer arena.

Now, back to the third episode of Scandal.  The dialog in the show is very cold and straight-forward. The characters speak without warm and convey no emotion. I believe Rhimes does this to authenticate Olivia Pope within the harsh, cut-throat environment of Washington and the White House. In this particular episode, Olivia deals with a horrific rape case and yet she shows almost no emotion, and she definitely does not sympathize with the victim. Thus, Rhimes keeps Olivia’s female character from showing “traditional” feminine characteristics to show Olivia can handle the good, bad, and ugly, just like her male peer professionals. Therefore, the harsh dialogue discourages personal affections and reinforces work prioity.

There is no voice-over in Scandal, and I believe that again authenticates the show and its characters. Rhimes would rather have events play out and film the reactions or have the characters voice the plot themselves than have an unknown narrator provide information. The Scandal world is full of strong lawyers and highly successful businessmen, so providing information from a separate, unlinked source would not fit into the rest of the writing in this show.

Rhimes uses silence amongst her characters as a placeholder for emotion. Many times throughout the show, and especially in this episode, Olivia remains quiet instead of demonstrating her own feelings about a situation or scenario. For example, as the rape victim gives her testimony and continuously asks Olivia rhetorical questions, Olivia remains motionless and completely silent.

For this particular episode, I did not notice any literary allusions or callbacks. However, I did notice that Rhimes’ writing aims to put each character in a light of reality and truth. She does not hide Olivia’s cold heart, Quinn’s stupidity, Huck’s anxiety, or Steven’s doubt. Instead, Rhimes almost makes the faults of her characters blatantly obvious, as to appeal to viewers’ sense of reality and relatability.

 

Stereotypes and Writing (The Right way and The Huang way)

Today I would like to focus on an important aspect of ‘Fresh off the Boat’, its writing. I specifically decided upon episode 8 because it had some good humor/writing and dealt heavily with stereotypes, one of the chief themes of the show.

Episode 8 was co-written by Jeff Chiang & Eric Ziobrowski, two writers who have previously worked as guest writers for ‘American Dad’, and as staff writers for ‘Enlisted’ and ‘Don’t Trust the B—- in Apartment 23’. This track record shows that they are both comedy writers, a claim which episode 8 backs up.

The episode starts off with the classic voice over by Eddie (real Eddie), which is the trademark of the series, and starts us off by stating what this episode will cover, Eddie finding someone at school who he can identify with.

Some of the important dialogue between Eddie and his mother start off the flashback and frame what they both want, Eddie to be a ‘good Chinese boy’ and Eddie wanting to go to the Beasty Boys concert.

The humor is typically scene based, revolving around Eddie and Philip’s interactions, and how all of the faculty at his school thinks that they like each other only because they are Chinese.

In the same manner that Eddie and Phillip are butting heads, Louis and Wyatt, his new greeter, are not getting along as much as Louis expected.

Just like how the Eddie and Philip are stereotyped, so too is Wyatt, a classic all american cowboy character

As usual, the show’s rap allusions keep us grounded in the era, but besides that, no illusions are used to any meaningful effect. The other standouts in this episode are the jokes (and Randall Park’s character). A great example of the humor is the faculty and their interactions with Eddie, specifically the principal. The final scene with Eddie was also a standout with the narration and the resolution of the character tension between Eddie and Walter.

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

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