Half way into plotting my latest work, I had to take a step back and rethink a lot of things I was doing. On my tenth or so re-read I realized I was picking up elements from TV shows I’ve seen in the last 10 years, and that bothered me to no end.
Granted, they were not big things, but what really bothered me is that they were actually pretty crummy ideas.
A professional acquaintance who actually works on TV took the time to go over why TV shows can’t dare to stray too far from their formulas: “We are working with a language that has been agreed upon by the majority of the networks, and has been honed and fined tuned through the decades, and handed down to us by predecessors. “
One of the main problems I see is the perception of the industry on how society is.
Hollywood and TV writers seem to live in some kind of alternate of alternate reality, where kids act stupid and just run into oncoming traffic, chasing after balls, young teens are all moody, and parents refuse to communicate with each other.
Don’t get me wrong. There are those instances in real life, and plenty of them. My problem is that they also are crutches for some very lazy writing.
But then I have a skype session with my longtime friend who left comics in the late 90’s and has found steady work on TV. To summarize the conversation he said:
“Lots of people who work in Hollywood have never worked a 9 to 5 job in their freaking lives. And Hollywood (include TV production in this statement) don’t have a clue of what real life is, because the industry itself puts them in a unreal bubble. Working writers and successful writers get paid a boatload of money and then they become detached from everyday life necessities.
And I am not referring to the poor schmuck who is serving coffee at Starbucks waiting for a miracle and someone to buy their script. Heck No! I am talking about those insiders, who started 10 years ago as personal assistants, and eventually moved up to assistant producers, and now they are part of everything that is wrong with the cultural machine of mass media that is Hollywood and its TV side-business.”
As he was able to explain to me, there are these producers living in mansions, snorting coke and getting hummers in hot-pools that receive a call from someone higher up who says: “I want a TV show about a dog and cop”
They finish their coke and their oral sex and call assistants to get the whole thing started. Then, they call 10 recent grads from some University and ask them to prepare a few scripts. Much later, after the casting and the scheduling of the shooting, they give those scripts to one hired writer who gets paid a decent amount of money to put up with the crap from the producer, and that writer will put together a frankenstein monster of a script and get the credits.
Agreed, with the advent of good competitive TV, the scenario described above is less and less prevalent, but it still out there. And what is worst, the culture that allowed said scenario to exists, its still there.
This gets fed by the fact that the majority of the public want to consume easily recognizable entertainment, and thus they wouldn’t feel comfortable viewing in a movie theater experimental movies, or avant garde theater, usually they would leave the theater in droves.
And of course this same audiences that I am talking about that consumes movies and tv like they are microwavable dinners, are also the majority of the mass consumers of comics.
People usually want to consume things that are familiar to them, and that translates onto most popular media, like movies, music, or comics.
My advice? Slowly move away from your comfort zone. Keep a couple of Capt America or Batman’s under the bed, but star reading the independents, the weird, the genres you never though you would enjoy, and the ones with strange art, and strange story lines.
And stop watching TV!! Or watch less. Your brain will thank you.