Category Archives: character development

Cochise, Speak Softly and Carry a Big Stick

Cochise

This is going to sound crazy but I absolutely love Cochise on Falling Skies. Yeah, it’s the family dynamic and the struggle to survive the extinction of the human race that makes Falling Skies so awesome, but I have to mention what a fantastic addition the Volm, specifically Cochise is to the cast. The Volm enhance the members of the resistance and provide a great foil for the Espheni and skitters. Not all alien life forms are out to eradicate humanity. It’s refreshing in a grungy way that Star Trek was not. (Still the greatest franchise to ever grace television. Don’t want to seem blasphemous.)

Ah, Cochise… I find him adorable. It’s not like he gives off the warm-fuzzies. He’s not pretty with his green reptilian skin, big buggy eyes and a tiny skull-like hole for a nose, but there’s just something about him that sticks. He intrigues me. Maybe it’s the juxtaposition of him at his essence. He’s a tall, upright turtle that could quite frankly perform with the best of them in a Shakespearean production of Henry the V. (Cochise in the park – “alas poor Yorick…” I giggle as I digress.)

Anyway, I’ve significantly analyzed my leanings toward him. The writer in me and this ongoing study of character and my tendency toward specific types. Tall, honorable, self-sacrificing heroes are my kryptonite. My findings: It’s in the way Cochise carries himself with stoic grace. His patience and deep respect for the human condition. The timbre of his deep voice and aristocratic cadence of his speech. His personality shines in his golden eyes and the tilt of his head when he’s curious. His kindness and self-deprecating manner when he’s vexed with a problem. All of that put together make him attractive. Endearing. A gentleman warrior. And make me wish that more humans could behave with such impeccable manners and compassion. Maybe he’s a throwback to a more genial time. 

Nevertheless, he makes me keep watching amidst this crazy Season 4 rehash of Nazi-brainwashing and the Chosen One Human-Espheni hybrid whose appearance is a direct rip off of the Mother of Dragons. Please, there can be only one of her. 

I know the story is about the Masons and their quest to save Earth, but it’s punctuated and enhanced with this amazing character in Cochise. I can only hope to see more of him next season.

More Marvel’s Marvelous Character Wounds

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I couldn’t do a Marvel Character Wound analysis of Guardians of the Galaxy and not go back and take a look at the fabulous festering wounds of The Avengers. Every single one of them is such wounded, anguished soul. I’ve seen some incredible, deep analysis of this movie so I won’t go into how all of this relates to the epic plot set forth by the ever-amazing Joss Whedon, but I do want to stay with the theme of character’s wounds. Those deep character sores are what give this movie its emotional layers and the meat that drives the plot forward. They are integral to each other. Without these wounds, the Avengers would be just another “blow ‘em up, big 3D-CGI-IMAX so loud and annoying you want to shoot yourself” fest like Transformers. Forgive me if you’re a fan. I never really saw the fascination.

So let’s us look:

Black Widow:

  • Motivation to the “Call”: she’s actively working as an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. and believes in the job, but returns to home base because of loyalty to Clint Barton aka Hawkeye (She’s used to the job as a spy, follows the mission and her orders, it’s all she’s ever known.) But, she owes Clint a debt––he saved her life after he was sent to assassinate her. “You lie and kill in the service of liars and killers, and you pretend to have your own code to make up for what you are and what they make you do.”
  • Wound: She’s a spy and a killer which she refers to as having “red in her ledger” which we can assume means blood on her as ala Lady Macbeth “out damn spot”. This killer however is afraid of the Hulk because he can’t be mind controlled, her specialty. She holds no power over him.
  • Skills: she’s a manipulator, uses her “pretend” vulnerability and weakness to trick men. In this way, she’s a reflection of Loki’s tricks, and manipulation.
  • Overcoming the wound: she listens to Clint, once she’s knocked some sense back into him and gets back on her horse for the greater purpose. She knows that working with these guys is for the greater good and will automatically help her redeem all that “red”. She is the one to push the mind control stick into the portal device which reflects back to she use mind control to overcome the bad thing.

Hawkeye:

  • Motivation to the “Call”: he was taken as a puppet for the bad guy who used his skills to hurt people. We don’t get much more than that until he’s reunited with Black Widow. He calls her by her nick name which automatically links her to him in a more personal manner than she has with the rest and solidifies their bond.
  • Wound: he felt violated because Loki was in his head and he hurt people against his will. I assume in the next one we’ll get more of a look into who he really is. During this one, he’s little more than a sniper in a perch and a motivation for Romanov.
  • Skills: strategy, eye for detail, logistics, extremely talented sharp shooter. Quick and efficient
  • Overcoming the wound: he is now working with his partner, getting over the mind control and redeeming himself by saving people

Dr. Banner/Hulk:

  • Motivation to the “Call”: he’s manipulated by Natasha to believe that he’s been asked because he’s the most preeminent expert on gamma radiation (He thought gamma radiation would be the key to unlocking the formula the super soldier serum that made Cap, but ultimately turned him into the Hulk.) His cynicism make him believe that S.H.I.E.L.D. is hiding stuff because why wouldn’t they bring in Tony Stark for the “clean energy” they’re working on.
  • Wound: He’s afraid to be the hulk because he causes damage and hurts people without meaning to. He doesn’t like this this is his own causing. He feels exposed like a “raw nerve”.
  • Skills: science and rationality, as Dr. Banner; brute strength as hulk
  • Overcoming the wound: he realizes that it doesn’t matter because he’s always angry and that constant state of anger can be controlled if he tries. He needs to help people by destroying the bad guys

 

Captain America:

  • Motivation to the “Call”: he’s a soldier and it’s his duty. (Plus he’s got nothing better to do since he’s been frozen for the last seventy years)  A soldier is all he’s ever wanted to be. His greatest desire was to be in service his country and fight against the evil of Hitler, against oppression.
  • Wound: he feels old-fashioned. He’s a man out of time, an anachronism, upset that the world has changed so much that he doesn’t recognize humanity anymore, that there is no unity, no loyalty and we’ve become a version of the evil he once fought against. He believes that the Tesseract should have been left in the ocean because it is too dangerous.
  • Skills: super strength, extreme honor. Military skills, tactical and a great leader. The shield protects him from many assaults/weapons, used as a protection device and a tool. It’s an extension of his fighting skill and body.

 

Iron Man:

  • Motivation to the “Call”: He goes because they need his expertise and to prove he was right. He’s working on getting out of the war making business, and into the energy business, snd he’s a little upset that the Avenger Initiative was scrapped because of his personality (volatile and self-obsessed) He questions Fury’s motives and  doesn’t like that Fury doesn’t tell them everything, he keeps secrets.
  • Wound: his ego is huge and needs to be stroked. He’s more than a “billionaire, genius, philanthropist”. He is selfish and questions authority. He needs to know everything and be right. His sarcasm is his deflection.
  • Skills: strength, power, genius, fires lasers, variety of techno weapons and flying, has Jarvis as backup and navigation
  • Overcoming the wound: he gets the group to see that there is more to the picture and this causes conflict but then rallies and works with them after Phil is killed. He wants to avenge. He’s angered when he sees a bit of himself in Loki and knows exactly how it needs to be stopped. He gives the ultimate sacrifice by flying the nuke up to the portal and sending it to the Chitauri mothership. He doesn’t even get to say goodbye to the woman he loves.

 

Thor:

  • Motivation to the “Call”: he’s there to retrieve his brother. He loves his brother. Believes Loki is going after earth to get back at him (he’s right). Earth is under his protection. But Loki believes that human need to be ruled because they are chaotic and kill themselves. He wants Loki to face Asgardian justice for his crimes.
  • Wound: he wants to protect humanity, and his love, Jane Foster, on earth, but part of him believes that he’ll only bring danger to humanity. His family bickering has already caused such problems. He embarrassed by his family’s dirty laundry.
  • Skills: super strength, hammer is indestructible that only he can wield, the hammer allows him  fly and summon thunder and lightening. Its an extension of his body and fighting skill.
  • Overcoming the wound: he realizes he has to fight here on Earth in order to protect humanity. He cannot protect from afar.

 

Loki:

  • Villainous motivations: wants to rule earth, Odin (father) and Thor’s (brother) favorite people, to get back at them for his perceived slights.
  • Wound: He wants approval from his father and to hurt Thor because he’s in the shadow of his brother’s greatness. Believes he was betrayed by Odin and deserves to rule. His deal is to get the Tesseract, control the Chitaruri army to take over Earth and then give the Tesseract to Thanos. His self-importance makes him believe he is above humans. And he will manipulate and use any means to get what he wants. He needs the scientist and the Tesseract to create a stronger more stable portal to get the army to New York.
  • Skills: master of words, manipulations illusions and tricks, super strength, holds a Chitauri weapon that creates mind control over humans with the essence of the Tesseract

 

Now, the two “regular” humans play a major part, as well. While they may not have superpowers, they are pretty damn important:

 

Director Fury: he is the visionary and pragmatist. He believes in the Avengers as the answer to save Earth, but he also believes that the Tesseract is needed to give them weapons to combat much greater foes. Now that humanity knows there are aliens from other worlds (because of the appearance of Thor), and now that Loki has returned as a threat to crush humanity, it’s proven him right. He believes they are at war. “Hopelessly, hilariously outgunned, the world is filling up with people who can’t be matched”, and as Thor states: “Earth is ready for a higher form of war.”

Phil Coulson: he represents humanity, the everyman. He’s the company man that follows S.H.I.E.L.D.’s directives without question. He believes in what he does and that the world will be a better place because of the Avengers. What’s great about him is that he’s interacted with all of them in one way or another. Most predominantly, he’s friendly with Tony Stark, able to manage Romanov, and awestruck by Captain America. There’s an innocent hero worship in his regard for Steve Rodgers. His eyes light up like a child’s when he gets to finally speak with his hero, and boldly asks for Rodger’s autograph on his trading cards. It’s his death that Fury uses to unit the arguing Avengers to a higher purpose.

 

I love the depth of each of them. I’ve watched the movie over and over to study the brilliance of Joss’s writing and the nuances of the character dynamic. I cannot wait until Avengers 2 is out when we get to scratch deeper into the wounds. I can’t even predict where he’ll go, but I’m willing to bet it’s amazing.

 

 

 

Marvel’s Marvelous Character Wounds

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Them more I watch the Marvel Cinematic Universe the more I learn about writing. The characters in this massively epic franchise are so fascinating. They have such depth underneath their seemingly shiny and comic exteriors. Each one has personal demons that need to be faced. Each one of them has a “wound”. The wound is the one thing the character can’t escape from. The one thing their superpowers or abilities can’t control over overcome. The wound is a tear on their psyche. It’s what makes them human and being human means being vulnerable.

I’ve always struggled with conflict, in my personal life and in my writing. We all have a tendency to want everything to be good and happy and perfect. But unfortunately perfect people don’t exist anywhere, nor do they make for good fiction. Sure stories are about plot and what happens. But, if the characters suck, then who cares. I once turned away from a movie because I wished the tunnel collapsed on all of the people trapped in it because they were all too annoying to live. I didn’t care. It was one of those disaster movies from the 90s and I think Sylvester Stallone was in it. (Don’t get me wrong. Sly Stallone has some cool gems in his acting pocket. The Expendables movies are sheer marketing brilliance and fun. And all of those crusty old guys have wounds––even if it’s their realization that they’re too old for this shit––so it makes it even more fun to watch).

I was discussing the latest Marvel awesome fest with my crit partner Renn and she asked what I loved about it. The story (i.e. plot) is cool, as most adventures are. They go after a MacGuffin for selfish reasons, fight some guys who also want it, have a big battle and become heroes in the process. It’s not that they all of a sudden decide, “Today I care about something other than myself and I want to be a hero.” It’s because their wounds ache for them to overcome it. And that’s why they become heroes.

The cast of misfits:

Peter Quill, aka Star Lord, is the de facto leader. His mother died of cancer when he was eight and he was immediately abducted by a space ship and raised by the pirate/scavenger, Yondu, who took him. Turns out there’s a secret about Peter’s heritage that even he didn’t know. I’m sure we’ll find out what that is in the next movie. (Abandonment issues, forced to look out for himself. Deflects with sarcasm)

Rocket Raccoon, is a bounty hunter/mercenary. He’s self conscious about the fact that everyone thinks he’s a dumb rodent, but he’s really a mechanical genius which most likely is because he was the result of a genetic and cybernetic experiment gone awry and he’s the only one of his kind. (Feels alone in the universe, deflects with extreme sarcasm)

The humanoid tree, Groot, is Rocket’s guardian and only friend. He only speaks 3 words, just with different inflections. “I am Groot”. Somehow Rocket understands this weird language and you can liken it to the way Han understood Chewie’s weird growls that all sounded the same to us. Groot is the only one of the group who is truly an innocent without any darkness in his soul.

Drax the Destoyer is a warrior whose entire family was killed by Ronan the Accuser (the Bad Guy) and his vow to seek revenge has consumed his every move since then. He’s incredibly literal and it often makes for miscommunication between others. He comes to respect and care for his new allies naming them as friends. (Lost everything that was dear to him)

Gamora was adopted by the Bigger Bad, Thanos, along with her sister Nebula. They were abused and experimented on as children. Gamora turned into an assassin. She is first allied with Ronan, but once she realizes his intentions to wipe out entire planets, she betrays him and goes to steal the orb herself to sell it to a secret buyer. (Jaded and righteous, needs to atone for her evil deeds)

Nebula, the more tragic of the two sisters is the bad girl. Thanos made her into a cyborg. She does everything to get back at Gamora and Thanos because Daddy Thanos loved Gamora more (He flat out says she was his favorite daughter). Nebula becomes incredibly loyal to Ronan but it seems he has no idea because he, like Drax is consumed with revenge. (Daddy issues and sibling rivalry)

Ronan the Accuser is a very powerful Kree and a religious fanatic hell-bent on destroying his mortal enemies. He only sees things as black and white. He ignores the treaty set up between the Kree Empire and the Xandarians and sets out to annihilate them with the Power Infinity Stone, which he had agreed to give to Thanos when he was done with it. However he betrays him stating that he’ll kill Thanos too. (Religious zealot who probably was indoctrinated and now only sees life through the lens of intolerance and hate)

All of their wounds come out at some point and inform the action. Each one does something that turns the plot until they come together not out of necessity but out of a true sense of believing in each other and acceptance. Ronan and Nebula, well they’re the bad guys, so they don’t but they confront some of their issues towards the end, as well. I fully expect to see both of them again so I don’t think we’re quite done exploring what their wound arcs truly are.

It’s good stuff. See the movie for fun. Peel back the layers if you chose. If you don’t, just go to see a great movie, but Marvel’s doing it right. I can only strive to be so brilliant.

Strike Back: A Bromance of Epic Hotness

Sullivan Stapleton and Phillip Winchester 

What is it about hot, hot, super hot men running around in cargo pants, tact vests and thigh holsters that just gets my knees a-knocking? Or squirming with an uncontrollable aching need for… Ahem…. Did I mention that they were hot? Good lord, I’ve found my Mecca. Cinemax’s Strike Back has all of this girl’s favorite things: Special Ops super heroes, badass women in charge, terrorist ass-kicking, justifiable guns and violence and a shiny new bromance. Oh yeah, and it has some steamy, hair-straightening, toe-curling sex, IN EVERY EPISODE, but we’ll talk about that in a minute.

The heroes:

British SAS soldier, Sergeant Michael Stonebridge works for a highly secret, off books division of British Secret Intelligence called Section 20. The group is an anti-terrorism task force charged with high risk, priority missions around the globe. Stonebridge is the consummate soldier, the one who follows orders, always does what is right and never wavers from the mission. His clean cut good looks fit the golden boy, Officer and a Gentleman trope. He’s poised and polished under fire and takes the more respectful route when it comes to discussions with management. He’s not totally perfect. He cheated on his wife with a superior officer. And then she was blown up. Eeeps.

Stonebridge is sent to find and recruit…

Damien Scott, disgraced US Delta Force Operator, dishonorably discharged during a tour in Iraq. Of course he was set up to cover up a WMD plot, because he would never traffic the two kilos of heroin planted in his footlocker. He does have some integrity. There are lines that every good man at heart won’t cross. Yet, he IS the quintessential badboy. Where Stonebridge is sublime perfection, Scott is the grizzled, disillusioned badass who fights hard and plays even harder. He leaves a string of bullets, bodies and women in his wake and gives authority the finger every chance he can get. He doesn’t deny his personal demons but he struggles with atonement couched in revenge to find those who set him up.

Together they are a deadly force of precision fighting.

So what makes these two my newest favorite bromance? Aside from the fact I can’t decide which one I’d chose if we could stay in bed for a week. Would I really even have to chose? Who says I can’t have both, right? Sigh.

In the beginning, they hate each other. Scott is rude and arrogant and bucks authority like it’s in his DNA. Stonebridge is the play-by-the-rules, respect-your-elders kind of guy and Scott’s jagged edges grate on his last nerve. They fight and argue and call each other ‘asshole’ and ‘prick’. It’s the beginning to a beautiful symbiotic bickering foundation of all fine bromances. They question each other’s motives, second guess one another and generally dislike each other until they begin to save each other’s lives. It becomes a bro-hood forged in blood––theirs and those they kill in the name of freedom.

Over the course of the first Cinemax season, Strike Back:Project Dawn, they develop a deep and trusting friendship. Shared events of tragedy often does that to people, especially hardened soldiers. Now that they have a season under their belt, in season 2 Strike Back: Vengeance, they’ve switched roles in a way. It is Scott who’s the stable one and Stonebridge who is living life on the cutting edge of sanity and redemption. They still bicker, but now they squabble like brothers, nitpicking and teasing while they watch each other’s backs. I look forward to seeing how they play up this dynamic in season 3. Both men having purged their ghosts. Maybe Stonebridge will finally get a chance to get his groove on with a woman who actually gets to live. (He’s a bit of a black widow, poor bastard).

Which brings me to the sex. Oh my, get me a cigarette.  They don’t call Cinemax ‘Skinamax’ for no reason. This is soft core porn at its damn finest. I think in the twenty hour-long episodes that I’ve watched (and studied like I’m doing a dissertation) I’ve seen Scott’s bare ass more than I’ve seen my own husband’s. Not that I’m complaining because damn, it’s fine. He’s got just the right amount of dirty, scruffy sex appeal where he can slip any minute into that guy who looks really hot, but you know he’s got smelly balls so you wouldn’t touch him with a ten-foot pole, let alone his own. But he’s got that cute, cute military boy haircut that sticks up like he just raked his hand through it when he rolled out of bed. And let me tell you, he usually doesn’t even use a bed. The boy’s got some stamina., Walls, tables, barns, interrogation room chairs, balconies. Hot damn the man will fuck anywhere, anytime, with pretty much any woman who’s breathing and has a hole. When I say he’s had sex in every episode, I’m not lying. He’s had sex in EVERY EPISODE but the last four of season 2, and I think that is pretty telling because it means he’s come to a decision about himself and his role within Section 20. He feels like he belongs again and he’s done racing against the world with his hair on fire. Not bad for a guy with a death wish.

One thing that I have to say that totally cracks me up is that Stonebridge, the Brit, is played by an American, Philip Winchester (his name even sounds like he should be British) and Scott, the American, is played by an Aussie, Sullivan Stapleton. Their accents are reversed . Every once in a while Sully’s will slip when he gets hyper emotional, but Philip’s, never. It sounds dead on with the rest of the brits on the show. I love it. It’s so ironic. Great testament to the quality of acting going on in this well-written, intelligent action fest.

Yes, it’s violent, bloody, unapologetically testosterone bent. And I love it. I want more. One day, I will have to do a post on the women of Strike Back because they are badass, brass-ovary women to the core. They are a perfect fit with the boys. They are not just decoration they are true soldiers. Each one is every bit as ruthless as her counterpart. It’s refreshing and believable. Strike Back got it right.

Cannot wait until Season 3.

If I’m every kidnapped by a raving group of terrorists, call in these guys. If I die, at least I’ll die with a fantasy in my head.
~Namaste

Photos courtesy of Cinemax, Sky 1 and TV Guide.

Irish Chic with a Chip on Her Shoulder

Ok it’s been a while since I’ve submitted another entry into the badass database but I was seriously lacking inspiration with the poor selection of badass women out there on television lately. But now that Burn Notice is back from its fall hiatus, I am once again inspired by the incomparable Fiona Glenanne.

She is the woman every girl dreams she can be: equal parts super hero, sassy, sexy, say anything, blow up things when you’re pissed off complete badass chic.

Since the very beginning of the guilty pleasure that Burn Notice is, Fiona has been once kick ass first and take names later kinda gal. She shoots from the hip, knows her way around household chemicals – not to clean the kitchen floor but to make a bomb that can clean your clock better than a small pack of C4. And lets face it, she’s a fashion plate. Half the outfits she runs around in make you wonder if they have to duct tape it to her body so those flimsy little shirts stay on. Nevertheless, her long flowing hair and her high-heeled wedges makes her one sexy babe.

One of the things I totally love about her is that she’s no spring chicken. Gabrielle Anwar is 42 and a mother of three. I don’t think I had abs like hers when I was 8 let alone after kids.  Even though she’s a tiny little thing, she’s a brick shithouse. She is rock-solid lean muscle, golden tan skin and lithe like a panther. She carries herself with such confidence that you can’t help but believe that her character used to be part of the IRA when she met the love of her life, undercover CIA agent, Michael Weston.

The best parts about Fiona is that she’s a maniac. She is a great foil for Michael in the sense that she adds a level of crazy to the already insane things they undertake in the name of justice. Michael’s crazy, there’s no doubt. Sam’s his crazy sidekick and now Jesse has an element of loco to him that adds comic relief to an already balls-to-the-wall funfest. The boys come up with some wild plans but Fiona’s often the one that wants to go in guns-a-blazing, hell on wheels, collateral damage be damned. The guys are the ones that have to rein her in. She’s an explosives expert. Knows her guns like she knows her shoes, maybe better. And has no problem walking right in a punching a guy in the nose to cause a diversion. She uses her sexuality as just another tool in her arsenal and wields it like a weapon. Heaven help the bastard who crosses her path.

Her greatest vulnerability is Michael. She’s loved him since he broke her heart in Ireland. She’s only ever wanted to be with him yet he frustrates her beyond belief. His greatest desire is to find out who burned him. He never expects her to come along for the ride but she refuses to let him do it alone, no matter how much she tries to talk him out of it. He never sees her side and does what he wants anyway but her loyalty to him makes her follow him because if he died without her, she would never be able to live with herself. As the seasons progress, she matures a little, settles into her life in Miami and with Michael. She’s come to terms with her role in his life. It also helps that Michael’s finally realized he can’t live with out her and they are now in an official relationship. She’s even earned an upgrade in the teaser voice over from “trigger-happy ex-girlfriend” to “trigger-happy girlfriend”. Things are looking up in her world.

I think her letter to Michael as she turns herself into the authorities at the end of Season 5 sums up how she perceives their relationship best:

“I loved you. Before I should have, I trusted you. Because I’ve always known your heart. You do what’s right no matter the cost to you. And I’ve learned that when you love a spy, you have to be willing to make that sacrifice too. At times your job has made it hard to be with you, but it’s never shaken my faith in you.”

It’s beautiful and poignant and heartbreaking. The anguish in Michael’s face as he realizes she’s sacrificed herself for him yet again. I think it’s a turning point for him. He’s finally faced with just how much he’s taken her for granted and how much he needs her to be complete. Now that he’s rescued her in season 6, he’s still driven by the need to avenge, but he does it with her as his partner. He consults her and considers her family. She feels accepted and while she’s come to terms with his career she still hopes for a life without it.

While she’s clearly the love-interest-eye-candy to that hunk of man in the testosterone fest, Fiona’s a great example of a woman who can hold her own with the men, do it while still looking like a hottie, and not break a nail as she cocks her shotgun before she blasts you away. She’s a woman you want on your side in an argument, because you don’t want to be on the wrong end of her Irish temper. You might get a spark plug projectile in the eye.

~Namaste.

My Favorite Bromances

I have been a fan of the bromance for a while now. I ‘m not really sure how far back it goes because I really can’t pinpoint a favorite until the ultimate bromance (and I believe the duo who coined the phrase) House and Wilson. But it seems to be a new trend, at least in the shows that I frequent.

The bromance is a deep friendship relationship between two men. There can be sexual undertones if you squint real hard, but I think that usually comes from the fact that these relationships tend to resemble the close connection between an actual romantic couple. Like that of good marriage. Caring, banter, angst and humor. A true bromance will be tested––not in a Bros before Hoes kind of way––but in a way that tests the bonds that brought the two men to the friendship in the first place. The ties will stretch but the ultimate trust in one another will overcome no matter how thinly it is pulled.

Lets take a brief look at some of my favorites:

One of the main reasons I watch Hawaii 5-O is because of the McGarrett/Danno friendship. Ok, not gonna lie, if I could just be alone in a room with McGarret, I’d climb him like a tree and set up a wood floor treehouse. Who wouldn’t? But I love the dynamic between the two. When they argue in the car (the ‘cargument’ too cute,  I swear), it’s like watching an old married couple bicker in that adorable, annoyingly endearing way that makes you either want to hit them or squeeze their cheeks.

While Steve and Dano bicker, House and Wilson had blistering arguments. There were many times you just had to wonder why, oh why, did Wilson remain friends with him? House was so awful to him. But, there was no denying that they had a strangely symbiotic and dysfunctional relationship that took so many turns and evolutions as the show progressed that I’m sure a psychology student could do an entire dissertation on their codependency.  It was entertaining yet painful to watch sometimes. Pure brilliance, as with a lot of things in that show once upon a time.

White Collar‘s entire premise revolves around the bromance between Neil Caffrey and Peter Burke. They started out as nemesis and foe, cat and mouse, law man and the con man. Opposites to the core in their nature and their character role. Yet, what happened was interesting––they morphed into a true and genuine friendship. They respect each other’s abilities and feelings. And they do legitimately talk about their feelings. It’s actually quite refreshing and downright sentimental.

My favorite by far, is the mentor/protege, big brother/ little brother dynamic between Harvey Specter and Mike Ross on Suits. I cannot wait each week to watch these two. They deliver their lines in such quick-witted jabs and quips that you almost miss the subtle affection in the the blatant undertones of sarcasm. They are so very reminiscent of the fantastic verbal sparring of Tracey and Hepburn or Rosalind Russel and Cary Grant in His Girl Friday. Mike makes Harvey remember his humanity and Harvey challenges Mike in a way that utilizes his genius-like abilities. Harvey’s the pitbull and Mike is the puppy that runs along side of him. It will be interesting to see the puppy grow up and what the Alpha dog does.

I think that this type of relationship, one between two male characters who share a mutual respect and caring, can help us as writers to understand the character dynamic more. Study how they talk with each other, what they discuss and the patterns of their speech. Some of it pertains to the main plot and how they interact with the given situation. Most of it is isolated personal stuff that flows outside of the story plot but lends itself to the main character arc. It gives you insight into the character’s personalities and a deeper understanding of who they are as layered people.

So what about you? Do you have a favorite bromance? What makes them special?

Get out your bat and balls. Delve into the fantastic dynamic of the bromance.
~Indigo

Guest Post: Stella MT

Here’s a guest post from my friend and sometimes critique partner (when she’s not working on her doctoral program – sheesh, can’t she just find a few hours to squeeze little old me in?) Stella MT from The Great Big Jump. She’s been a great supporter of this blog and has some wise “You go girl” insights. I’m honored that she wanted to dabble in the badassery and examine when some femme characters fall short of that right. But, she changed her mind midstream and this is what she came up with. Please enjoy!


Stella MT’s Post:
Originally, I had set out to write a funny article about network TV procedurals and their lack of convincingly bad-ass female characters, which could be attributed to several different factors that affect TV and film writing in general. I had it all planned out: who to snark on, who to blame, what could have been.

Then the news of Nora Ephron’s death broke out all over the Internet.

I admit that, outside of her most popular movies (When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless in Seattle, even You’ve Got Mail and Julie and Julia), I’ve never really considered Nora Ephron as a “girl power” icon; all I know is that she’s a superb writer with a lifetime’s worth of snappy anecdotes to share, and I wish I had been able to truly develop my appreciation of her work before she passed away.

And yet, as the news of her passing flooded my timeline on Twitter, I found myself reading Ephron’s commencement speech at Wellesley College in 1996, where she spoke as an alumna of the school:

Many of my classmates did exactly what they were supposed to when they graduated from Wellesley, and some of them, by the way, lived happily ever after. But many of them didn’t. All sorts of things happened that no one expected. […] The women’s movement came along and made harsh value judgments about their lives—judgments that caught them by surprise, because they were doing what they were supposed to be doing, weren’t they? The rules had changed, they were caught in some kind of strange time warp. They had never intended to be the heroines of their own lives, they’d intended to be—what?—First Ladies, I guess, first ladies in the lives of big men. They ended up feeling like victims. They ended up, and this is really sad, thinking that their years in college were the best years of their lives.




What does this passage have to do with good writing? 

Put it simply, a good story often begins with the choice that must be made by a character in response to an unexpected and difficult situation.  In the case of most female protagonists, the “unexpected” could be as simple as a bad breakup (see: Rachel Green in Friends and Jess Day in New Girl) or as overwhelming as working for an office that might as well be a frat house (see also: Brenda Lee Johnson in The Closer and Ziva David in NCIS).  These moments are filled with the realization that things will never be the way it used to be: all of the sudden, there’s no going back to the old house, the previous branch, the trust that was broken by that lying piece of shit.  Survival, in one form or another, becomes the name of the game.


And yet, not all female protagonists get to become heroines in their own stories.

I look again at all the characters I set out to mock, and it becomes clear to me that they were intended to be strong and sexy in their own way: handy with a gun, easy on the eyes, tough enough to turn the tables on a perp yet sensitive enough to do everything they can for the ones they truly love, be it their messed-up families or the team of crime-fighters in their squad. Yet, as time went on, I found that they’ve only become less compelling as time went on: sure, it may be “realistic” to show our heroines not getting their way, but does it always have to happen on a regular basis? It’s already bad enough to be stonewalled by bureaucrats and left in the dark by lovers and family members… but do they also have to be tortured by psychos every other season, too?


It’s as if the creators of their respective shows are trying to tell us, over and over again, that any woman who chooses to take the bad guys down has chosen a life of martyrdom. Choose that journey, they say, and you will be doomed to a lifetime of trust issues, bad sex, substance abuse, and abandonment from nearly every single person that you’ve ever loved. You may be strong enough for this, they’ll say, but you’ll never be a hero… not even to your own self.

 

In a way, characters like these are marks of lazy storytelling – and the writers are partly at fault for the inconsistency – but, from my point of view, the repercussions may be more serious than we think. At a time when the entertainment industry has gone completely global, these shows are now shown all over the world, in different cycles, and in every possible language. And not only that, but there is a major chance that these shows – and stories – are being watched, right now, by viewers in countries where women don’t have the same rights and privileges that we have in our comfortable corners of the world.

Is this the message we want to send to the rest of the world: that, even in a democracy, there is no point for an educated woman to stand up and lead the charge against injustice? Is it fair for everyone else to think that the only stories we have to tell about our women – all women – are the ones where they have to do only what is expected, if they want to survive without being victimized?

http://kidculture.wordpress.com/2012/03/08/the-best-countries-for-women-girls/

I don’t know about you, but I’d like to think that a true heroine would never choose to live her life like this.


A true heroine, in my opinion, does not need to blame “the system” for her lack of initiative. She doesn’t have to dress up and go to work: she chooses to dress up and go to work, every day, because choosing otherwise would only make her more restless. She doesn’t always make the best decisions, but she takes responsibility for all of them, and finds a little humor in every situation. She may have to work a little harder to get some respect, but she will earn it – win or lose – and the guys in the office better recognize if they knew what’s best for them. 
And while it may be possible for her to “have it all” – good looks, great job, wicked skills, maybe a family and/or a nice house – a true heroine knows where the reallines are drawn in the first place. Cute shoes are a luxury, the right connections are a privilege… but truth, love, justice, peace of mind? Those are non-negotiable rights, and our heroine will fight for them, to the bitter end.

Which then brings us, once again, to Nora Ephron, and her message to the Class of ’96 at Wellesley:

Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim. Because you don’t have the alibi my class had—this is one of the great achievements and mixed blessings you inherit: Unlike us, you can’t say nobody told you there were other options. […] Did I say it was hard? Yes, but let me say it again so that none of you can ever say the words, nobody said it was so hard. But it’s also incredibly interesting. You are so lucky to have that life as an option.


Right or wrong – and regardless of who gets to run “the show” – a true heroine gets to choose her own destiny. And that is always a story worth telling, for all time. 

~Stella