And it’s time for me to air more of my pet peeves in storytelling. Though all my examples in this one happen to be from tv shows, they can of course apply to other formats.
1—Won’t Wrap Up a Damn Storyline
There’s a trope page for this. I know a lot of tv shows don’t ultimately get a proper ending but many still manage to wrap up plot lines and then start another. When a single plot line goes on forever and ever though…yeah, no. I need some resolution, dammit.
2—Too Many Crossovers
I think I’ve mentioned before somewhere that I don’t want to have to do homework to enjoy my entertainment. If I have to keep up with half a dozen outside story lines—movies, other tv shows, whatever—then I’m going to go away and watch something unrelated. I don’t mind several subplots within the main show, as long as they keep moving, but if I don’t want to watch the other shows/movies that you’re show is critically interacting with, then I’m going to pull out my emotional investment.
3—The Main Character is Boring
I think I got through about four episodes of Teen Wolf before I just couldn’t take anymore of Scott. Which is a shame because the show had everything else going for it—interesting and well acted other characters, interesting plot. But I just couldn’t stand any more of the bland main character, it just took me out of the show every time I had to watch that dull mannequin.
4—The Main Character is an Annoying Jerk
This is why I stopped watching House and Psych. I started watching some reruns of Psych lately and realized there were precious few I liked well enough to put up with Shawn for. This isn’t to say jerk characters can’t work as main characters, because they can—both shows had long runs. But if a character is both a jerk and annoying then I don’t want to spend time with them and main characters get the bulk of the screen time.
5—Lost Hope for the Characters
This happened most recently, with a show called Salem. It was visually enjoyable, both beautiful and beautifully ugly; the characters were interesting, complicated, and dynamic—both in the sense of driving plot forward and in the sense that the characters kept revealing or developing new layers.
And yet with one kiss, I lost hope for anyone to get a happy ending. Don’t get me wrong, Salem is a gory and gruesome show, dark, disturbing—there was probably never going to be a happy ending for anyone. But that “probably” is essential —both the characters and the audience need hope.
The central figure in Salem is Mary Sibley, and *MAJOR SPOILER* when the son she’s just found out is alive kisses her in a way suggesting…well put it this way, we just came from a scene with a mother and adult son who are lovers. Also, to get said son back, Mary had to do something that’s now caused her actual lover to dedicate himself to killing her. Yeah…there’s no way any of this is coming out well for anyone. Technically there’s still hope for Cotton Mather and Anne Hale but I’m not terribly interested in either of them. So, no, I won’t be going back to Salem.