This morning I had a Skype meeting with Sura, Lina and a writer who was to advice us on The Pilot. He’s a successful screenwriter, meaning he gets paid for it and got enough projects going to be busy. Still, he was kind enough to make time to look at our work.
It was an interesting experience: though I know he’s giving constructive criticism, I still had to take a deep breath and push through the instincts like a mother desperate to defend her children.
A lot of great points were made and helpful suggestions given, but the ‘understanding-buck’ stopped at his analysis of our characters: ” They are great, they are just all such losers.”
He explained how he assumed that one of the guys wasn’t really talented because the character wasn’t successful. We protested that the characters were in fact talented but just hadn’t made it yet. (Sounds familiar? ;-)) He then tried to compare them to Raymond (from Everybody love Raymond): he’s a loveable loser.
Hmm, there was food for thought and I still can’t shake the feeling that it seems unfair to brand an unsuccessful person a loser.
Raymond a loser? Perhaps but he has a family and a job. I guess the kids in Glee are defined as losers. Still why is the series a success? Is it because we like laughing at losers? I think that’s too cynical… I like to think that we identify with misfits. Who really feels like they have it all worked out? Not a lot of us I think.
Our characters are capable people who make the best that life throws at them: that is the strength of the characters. It is the bit that people can identify with. Finding yourself in bizarre situations, or ‘in life’, and just having to deal with it.
Of course in a comedy, the situation has to go completely wrong despite the character’s attempts to deal with it. That is the entertainment bit, but it would be boring to hear someone whine about it or see someone walk away.
It’s hard to entertain if you can’t engage. Engagement comes through understanding – I don’t want to create a series that assumes people will identify with losers. It would mean we live in a society of losers, of apathy. Losers aren’t engaging. Losers let the situation rule them or walk away. That is no fun. Even Schadenfreude is less fun when you know the person is not getting up.
I refuse to believe the majority of the world is apathetic: selfish possibly, hedonistic perhaps, not apathetic. So I object to this term for our characters as we’ve created them and I tell you ‘loser’ won’t apply to any child of mine.