So here’s a weird thing for me to admit, seeing as I’m writing a comic that has a large pool of inspiration drawn from “reality television”: I’m not all that entertained by reality.
What I mean by that is, when it comes to fictional offerings, I’m always more inclined towards the ones which have some sort of fantastic or paranormal element to them. I’m fully aware of the irony that many shows purporting to be realistic are often anything but. I complained about it in a long ago blog, and TV Tropes is full of entries on such hair-tearing nonsense as the “Enhance button” presented as a standard investigation technique. I do prefer the honesty of fantasies that fully embrace the Phlebotinum of their Sonic Screwdrivers, but what I’m talking about today goes beyond even that. It’s a full blown personality flaw.
Well, maybe it’s a personality feature. But I rarely get excited about fiction that’s presented in an entirely realistic setting. Again, leaving aside that even a “realistic” setting will take a lot of liberties, I will put up as an example that I just never got into Breaking Bad. I watched several episodes and I fully support the idea that it was a good show. I can absolutely see why people adore it. It just didn’t hook me. Not the way, say, X-Files did. Or Buffy, or Angel, or Babylon 5 or True Blood or Supernatural.
Am I saying that those shows are better than Breaking Bad? Or The Wire? Or any number of others close, respected friends of mine hold up as great television? No. No no no. I’m just saying that personally speaking, I’ve always felt much more desire to keep up with shows that had some element of overt fantasy or science fiction in their premise. Or watch them in the first place.
That doesn’t mean you get a free pass because your show has superheroes or aliens in it, I still have my standards. X-Files really started losing its focus after a few seasons, so I lost my focus on it. Birds of Prey? I barely lasted an episode or two before giving up on it. But I won’t deny it’s an easier sell to me than something focusing purely on gritty reality. I gave Longmire a try recently and liked it, I really did… not to mention it’s all modern Western-y, which should be inspirational… and yet I still haven’t gotten around to watching more.
Bah. Well, I have some saving graces. The instinct doesn’t seem to apply to movies, possibly because of Jaws sinking its teeth into me at such a young age. Then again that arguably has a giant monster in it. Pretty sure I was over a need for the paranormal in movies by the time I saw Die Hard in my teens. Casablanca took a bit longer, but has been on my favorites list ever since I finally queued it up.
Also, I don’t think this ever applied to comedies, just dramas. I have a definite hankering to keep watching Arrested Development after starting a Netflix run of it earlier this year. Ditto for New Girl, and before that How I Met Your Mother. I don’t seem to need spaceships and demons and dragons so long as the laughs keep coming my way. But something about dramatic serials… I just ideally want to see them play out on a stage that’s a little beyond the world we know. Greater room for metaphor, perhaps?
Probably nothing to try to analyze rationally. It just is. And I suppose explains why all these zombies and floating cameras keep hovering around the story here, instead of it being straight up people drama. It’s what keeps me interested in watching, so it keeps me interested in writing, as well.