Tuesday, September 10, 2019

The World of Television Cliches

I was reading a book the other day. In it, one of the characters walks into a bar. She's in her mid-twenties, and rather petite. She immediately runs afoul of a gang of toughs--four or five guys who are all much bigger than her and not very pleasant. Words are exchanged. The large men arm themselves with beer bottles and pool cues, ready to attack.

Can you guess what happens? Of course you can. This small, delicate young woman beats up the entire crew, leaving them heaped in a bloody pile of broken bottles, broken pool cues, and broken bones.

Because that's what happens on television shows and in the movies. It's one of the cliches of modern storytelling.

Fender bender = explosion!

I saw this on Twitter recently, and it made me laugh:

just once, I'd like to see an advertisement for a new network drama about a cop/lawyer/doctor who DOES play by the rules
6:29 PM · Sep 9, 2019Twitter Web App

Seriously. Maybe it would be a bit boring to watch a detective follow procedure, but it would be a nice change of pace from what we usually see. They say we want "realism" in our television shows, but I don't think they're ever going to show a patient sitting in the waiting room for 35 minutes, then in the examination room for another 25 minutes, only for the doctor to come in and talk to him for 45 seconds and leave.

Television show cliches are so overused that if you see a certain thing, you can be sure of what is about to follow. Examples:

IF a car gets in any kind of accident, THEN it will explode--but not until the occupants have been dragged away to a safe distance.

IF two people are playing chess, THEN someone will announce "Checkmate" within the next thirty seconds.

Checkmate is just one move away. Always.

IF someone goes to Las Vegas and gets drunk, THEN they will get married and have absolutely no memory of it.

IF a dangerous criminal is being transported from the prison, THEN an elaborate escape plan will be perfectly executed.

IF a new doctor/nurse is introduced, THEN that doctor/nurse will be sleeping with a co-worker (or possibly more than one) within the next two weeks.

IF a night security guard or armored car driver is shown, THEN they will most likely die in a break-in.

IF two characters are in the same room yelling loudly at each other, THEN there is a very good chance they will end up passionately kissing each other.

IF a main character is shot, stabbed, or seriously wounded in an explosion (it happens more often than you might think), THEN within two episodes there will be absolutely no lingering effects of said near-death experience. (Heck, if I twist my ankle playing basketball, I'm limping for two months--these guys get shot in the face and they're back making jokes by the water cooler in a day and a half!)

Luckily, we live in the real world, not the world of television cliches. (Unfortunately, that means I've got another 27 minutes before they move me from the waiting room to the examination room.)

Pictures courtesy of the website Pixabay.

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