Monday, October 19, 2009

My Beef with Zany

I'm done with zany. I'm done with zany characters and their unrealistic mad-cap scrapes. I am done with zany plots and what characters are required to be to make it all work. Zany is starting to involve all the worst of the romance cliches - heroines too stupid to live, heroes so blind to reality it's amazing they can get around in the world.

I love romantic comedy. I love it more than most things, but I've always thought for romantic comedy to really work, to lift itself out of the realm of disposable and zany - it has to be anchored in heartbreak. Love Actually, SEP, About a Boy, the best of chick lit (and I do mean Do Me Do My Roots, Good Grief, all those fabulous Anna Maxted books, Love Walked In) - the comedy is just a part of the heartbreak.

And I have to say I'm angry about this - really really angry. Because one of the best shows and best male characters on TV - what's-his-face Moody on Californication has been ruined with zany. Ruined. That first season all his hijinks were simply an antidote to the heartbreak. Now they are hijinks for hijinks sake.

Sinead asked about when a series is over and Californication needs to call it quits before it gets any worse.


Maureen McGowan said...

Oh, I'm behind on Californication, and it wounds like I might not be missing much.

Maybe that's a key problem with series where the main premise is based on the bad behaviour of the main character. Like House, too.

At some point we need to see character growth. But i expect the writers fear that if they let that happen, the reasons why the viewers loved the show will vanish.

More reasons not to let series (on TV or in books) go past their best before dates.

Eileen said...

I am so with you. I'm definitely a lover of a good rom com (and bless you for always mentioning my favorite book), but it's been ages since I've seen one I really liked. I enjoyed Eileen Cook's UNPREDICTABLE a lot, but in part because I've seen women react that way to a break-up. It took something very real and turned it up to 11 and make it funny.

Maureen McGowan said...

Yes, Eileen Cook's UNPREDICTABLE was zany that worked. For me, it was like the Shopaholic books. Total commitment by the writer to having the protagonist behave badly. LOVED it.

You're so right, Eileen. Your namesake (are you sisters? snort) turned it up to 11 and then didn't back off, didn't hedge.

Molly O'Keefe said...

I was totally thinking about Unpredictable when I was writing this blog! My total brain fart that she's not on that list right between Anna Maxted and Love Walked In.

There's only so long you can extend a character's arc before the reader/viewer is like ENOUGH ALREADY!!

Eileen said...

It's what makes me nervous about writing a series. A trilogy? Sure. An open-ended series? It makes me nervous.

I was thinking more about zany for zany's sake. I think it gets to be cynical when there's no heart to it. Maybe that's the problem?

Sinead M said...

Molly, great point, I'd forgotten about Californication, and that series is terrible right now.
Moody is no longer a sympathetic character, he's just a jackass, and all the secondary characters are equally as painful.

Great point about balancing zany with pain, I too loved Do me, do My roots. There were such lovely, truthful moments to it, that balanced the comedy perfectly.

And let's not even talk about the perfection of Love walked in...

Allie said...

Oh! You are so right!!!! Totally agree on Californication. And that romcom has to be anchored with heartbreak - that is a fantastic point and so well said!

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