English 1102: Television and Feminism

Dr. Casey Alane Wilson • Georgia Institute of Technology

Tag: #WritingBlog

Tense, Urgent, Fearful: the Truth of a Hospital’s Environment

(Topic 2)

The episode (and series) is written by Stacy McKee. That has been her primary achievement/occupation since Grey’s Anatomy is one of the longest running shows. She won the Writers Guild of America Award for Television: New Series. The dialogue is usually quick with the camera and dialogue shifting back and forth as the characters even break each other’s statements to start their own. This seems to create a sense of urgency and creates a tense and stressful environment. This is very much needed since it is the norm in hospitals where people need split-second decisions to save their lives and people dying is very common. Silence is usually used to allow the viewers to feel the finality and the depth of what has happened. This is usually after a death, an argument, someone leaving, or anything where there is a negative emotion to be felt. There are a lot of flashbacks usually either related to suffering in the past such as when Meredith Grey remembers how her mom neglected her or when April Kepner and Jackson Avery remember how their happy marriage turned out so badly or also happiness earlier on in life such as when Meredith Gray remembers how much she loved Derek Shepherd and how great their marriage was. The writing really seems to just capture the air and environment of a hospital, the urgency, the hope, the sadness, the desperation, the fear, and even the brightness of a fixed patient. The writer was perfect for the job and I believe is the rightful recipient of the Writers Guild of America Award for Television: New Series. Her writing has been instrumental in keeping viewers hooked for over 15 years with the same show as characters have come and gone. It’s the style of this show that has kept the viewers at bay.

Image result for stacy mckee

(Stacey McKee is pictured above)

Sense8 Doesn’t have very much writing for me to analyze, but I’ll do my best

According to the Sense8 Wikia Episode 3 of Sense8, “Smart Money is On the Skinny Bitch”, like all the episodes in season 1, was written by The Wachowskis & J. Michael Straczynski. J. Michael Straczynski is known for movies Babylon 5 and World War Z. Lana and Lilly Wachowski also wrote The Matrix and its sequels, as well as Bound. They wrote these movies as The Wachowski Brothers, but they are both trans women and now write simply as The Wachowksis. Nomi, one of the 8, is a trans woman, and the Wachowskis likely use their personal experiences to make Nomi a realistic character.

Sense8 stands out to me as having very minimal verbal communication. There is no voice-over or narration, and many scenes feature either no spoken words or only a couple of single lines spoken without responses. For example, the opening scene of this episode features two scared and as-of-yet-unidentified children watching around a corner as a mysterious man cuts open a woman’s skull with a surgical saw. The only dialogue is the girl whispering “Don’t look at him…”

A young girl whispers in the opening scene

One of the 8, in contrast, has strikingly more dialogue than the others in this episode. Lito, a famous actor has three separate scenes, all of which are focused on his dialogue with three other side characters. In these scenes, however, more emphasis is placed on what is left unsaid. Lito trips over his own words when trying to express his emotions to a woman in the first scene, and eventually his boyfriend takes pity on one/both of them and explains what Lito was unable to say. In the next scene the woman explains that Joaquin, who she is hiding from, “had words” with someone, and that her father is in the “import/export” business, once again leaving the real message unsaid.

Despite the lack of dialogue, there is rarely silence in Sense8. Whether it’s the whirring of sawing through bone, the roar of a crowd at an underground fight club, or a piano solo one of the 8 is remembering her father perform — the lack of dialogue leaves the audio track open for other forms of communication about setting and mood.

Additionally, a falling low-note and fading of the audio is often used to indicate that a character (or in this show, a pair of characters sharing senses) is entering bullet-time, a cinematic element originally popularized by The Wachowskis in The Matrix in which heightened perception is represented by other characters and setting elements moving in slow-motion while the camera pans at normal speed. This visual effect is able to be smoothly incorporated into Sense8 due to a lack of dialogue, which would normally have to be paused for a bullet time shot.


Episode 3 of Fresh Off the Boat: Writer’s meaning?

Within the script of Fresh Off the Boat Season 1 Episode 3 “The Shunning”, the writers appear to of cleverly included some moments that are speed through in order to represent a point. These include lines that seem to represent real life problems and how they are often ignored when brought up. Such when Grandma Huang brings up foot binding, “My feet were bound when I was seven.” This reflects the problem of elderly women in China that were the victims of foot binding often being ignored by the general population as when she mentions those lines they are quickly distracted by Louis’s interjection. At the same moment, this kind of passing on shows that this is the type of stuff they expect out of Grandma Huang as it isn’t out of place enough to them for any sort of conversation to happen. The show later  presents the close-mindedness of the neighbor women when Jessica offers them stinky tofu and their unwillingness to try present by Jessica comically saying, “How is this fuller than before?” This also seems to suggest that the Huang family perhaps moved into a more gated neighbor that’s a bit more close off from the world. The writers also cleverly choose to depict Jessica’s characteristic cheap and cold personality by letting Eddie ask her if he could buy Air Jordans without letting Jessica speak as he knew exactly what his mom would say. Later at the block party, the neighborhood women says that Jessica is cutting the cake evenly “Because of the communism in your country?” This is again is used to show the neighborhood women as being ignorant and gated, as since the Huang family are from Taiwan, they don’t come from a communist country but rather a capitalistic one. The writers later highlight the focus of Louis Huang with “You know who win every race? The advertising companies.” This showing that what’s foremost in his mind is the sucess of the restaurant. While grandma Huang response to the NASCAR race was “At those speeds it wouldn’t take much tampering to get revenge on your enemies.” This either suggest the dark personality that she has, or some dark intention that she is planning out just being hinted at. The writers do well to seek the lines in giving a different viewing experience to those that pay close attention and have active imaginations.

Implication that she was a victim of the common tradition of foot binding that was in China for much of history.


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