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Abrams, and Vince Gilligan. The Sheen case highlights that often viewers are well aware of the offscreen issues impacting a story, making real life events function as a paratextual framework for anticipating and interpreting a series, as discussed in the Comprehension chapter. Four of these characters were able to survive long enough to rejoin the main group of survivors, although only Bernard survived past the third season.
Both Ana Lucia and Libby were killed by Michael late in the season, a surprising twist that resonated with the extratextual knowledge that both performers, Michelle Rodriguez and Cynthia Watros respectively, had been arrested for drunk driving during production on Hawaii, leading many fans to speculate that their deaths were motivated by offscreen issues.
As explored by many scholars in the subfield of star studies, actors serve as sites of intertextuality, merging viewer memories of previous characters and knowledge about offscreen lives to color our understanding of a role. For instance, George Clooney was not well-known when debuting on ER inbut his popularity grew and soon became a major film star, transforming how he was viewed on ER and framing his departure in In all of these instances and many more, viewers approach a character with a wealth of star-connected contexts from both on- and offscreen references that help shape storytelling practices, highlighting the centrality of actors in constituting characters within serial television.
Film scholar Murray Smith identifies recognition as one of the chief components of character engagement, as film viewers need to differentiate between characters and other figures, whether they be inhuman objects or humans who do not rise to the level of character, such as background extras in a group scene.
These tiers have industrial meanings, as actor contracts, placement in credits, salaries, and long-term availability all impact how a character functions in an ongoing story. Viewers have varying levels of awareness about these factors, but even the most casual viewer presumes that lead characters are more likely to survive and serve as the narrative focus than guests or extras.
Producers are aware of this, striving to confound viewers by keeping surprise appearances out of the credits until the end of the episode, but such matters are dictated by legal matters, guild negotiations, and contractual stipulations that typically override the impulse for narrative surprises, providing another example of the industrial context shaping creative decisions.
This is particularly true of title characters, as we cannot imagine Seinfeld without Jerry or House, M. For stories with life-or-death stakes, this knowledge colors our narrative experiences, as we assume a degree of character safety that runs counter to the threats to characters within the storyworld.
One of the challenges of serial television is to create dramatic stakes in the face of viewer knowledge that the fictional jeopardy facing the lead characters is highly unlikely to come to pass, an aspect discussed more in the Comprehension chapter.
As eloquently summed up by a fan on EW. TV audiences need to invest in characters. While Lost did feature a higher risk environment for its characters than most primetime programs, it still kept the core group of Jack, Kate, Sawyer, Locke, and Hurley on the show throughout its entire run.
However, Lost played games with the audience and their knowledge of red shirts, often including dialog referring to the arbitrary distinction between the people who were named characters and thus central to actions on the island, and the background extras who rarely did anything but murmur assent or carry out chores at the camp, with such reflexive lines typically spoken by Hurley, the embodiment of the knowing sci-fi and comic book fan.
Toward the end of the first season, Dr. In the third season, the two figures had been elevated to supporting characters, emerging in dialogue scenes and being given names as the actors were added to the credits, but they served little dramatic function within the ensemble.
The episode is a distilled example of the operational aesthetic, as we engage at the level of storytelling discourse, considering how the revisionist history of island life resembles fan fiction rewriting of canonical events, scribbling in the margins of the established storyworld.
For fans who disliked the highly divisive episode, one chief complaint was that the lack of continuity and disruptions of what they felt had already been established—the episode presented new information about already-established events, but did not seem to contribute toward the greater mythology.
At the industrial level, there are incentives to associate a program with a number of actors who can be used to promote the series, serve as its public face, and be contractually committed to appear for years at a fixed salary. Creatively, most programs are defined by their core characters and their web of relationships in a way that replacing them becomes a challenge without losing what drew fans into the show—this is especially true of comedies, where the dynamics of an ensemble are usually what make a given show distinctive, with key character replacements or additions often proving troubling.
Serialized dramas might be based on a high concept or complex plot, but the character ensemble at their core is usually what hooks in viewers, as typified by the failure of shows like FlashForward, The Event, or Reunion to create sufficiently compelling characters to ground their enigma-driven storytelling.
The large ensembles of daytime soap operas maintain stability through anchor characters who might live their entire lives on decades-spanning dramas, mirroring the timeline of viewers at home, even as other characters in the ensemble might come and go or be recast.
Such replacements are less disruptive since storylines depend on weekly cases, with a core setting and tone, while each character plays a functionary role in the organization, rather than focusing on drawn out relationships between characters that might be relegated to tertiary plotlines.
The term for such engagement dates back to the s and the early era of mass communications research: We should not presume that caring about characters is a sign of unhealthy boundaries, but rather that it is a key component of the universal practice of storytelling—we temporarily give part of ourselves over to a fiction to produce emotional affect.
Murray Smith offers a detailed theory of such engagement with characters, framing it as a clearly demarcated process of imagining oneself in relation to fiction, rather than muddling the boundary between reality and fiction.
Officially produced paratexts can also fill those gaps, whether they are in-character blogs or diaries as discussed in the Transmedia Storytelling chapter, or commentaries found on podcasts, interviews, or other sources of insider information. Such ongoing parasocial relationships are heightened for television, where the typical domestic consumption literally entails inviting characters into your home, often for regularly scheduled visits over the course of years.
Viewers care about characters beyond romance, often rooting for particular figures to succeed or fail in business, crime, or other professional outcomes, as well as experiencing milestones or shifts in their various relationships with family and friends, as fans invest themselves in specific narrative futures.
Viewer investment in characters bleeds outside the storyworld as well into the realm of storytelling mechanics, where fans might hope that minor characters get more screen time, or major ones get less. All of these points of engagement suggest the centrality of the one-way relationship between viewers and characters in the experience of serial consumption.
Alignment consists of two key elements: Individual episodes might similarly restrict attachment to a single character, as with the Veronica Mars pilot discussed in the Beginnings chapter, but such patterns expand over the course of a series for both practical production reasons as it is too inefficient to require an actor to be present for every scene and to encourage connections with a wider range of characters.
It is more typical that a series functions as a broad ensemble with wide-ranging attachments across scenes and episodes, which often work to create a sense that the serial is aligned more broadly with its setting and scenario more than individual characters. On The Wire, a scene might attach to any one of dozens of characters who have been differentiated and recognized by the narrative—and within its opening credit sequences and season-ending montages, the series attaches to non-differentiated characters who serve in familiar roles, like cop, dealer, and dockworker.
Attachment strategies can become a crucial site of intrinsic norms that help define the storytelling parameters of a series.Goldsmiths, University of London is in South East London. We offer undergraduate and postgraduate degrees as well as teacher training (PGCE), Study Abroad and short courses.
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Masculinity (also called manhood or manliness) is a set of attributes, behaviors, and roles associated with boys and initiativeblog.com a social construct, it is distinct from the definition of the male biological sex.
Standards of manliness or masculinity vary across different cultures and historical periods. Both males and females can exhibit masculine traits and behavior.