Monday, April 2, 2012

The French Disconnection

I've noticed a growing trend in television and films (such as Mad Men and Awake) lately, and one that occurs in some of the best written scripts. There  seems to be a strange disconnect between the characters, as though they are all speaking a different language and cannot understand each other.

I first saw it in Lost, when I was such a huge fan. Someone (usually Hurley) would say something that  was perfectly pleasant, and no one would respond with corresponding pleasantness. Then, when someone else would say something nice to Hurley, he would respond with a cutting remark or an incredulous scoff - there are loads of incredulous scoffs, if you begin to notice- and walk off, alone.

Of course Sawyer was a master at this, with his oft-repeated "Yeah, well, what do you know about it, doc?"

It happens in Twilight - in both the books and the movies - where Alice, as hard as she tries, just  can't seem to connect with Bella in true friendship. I see it in Awake, although there I give the writers a pass, since they are dealing with themes of  recent loss and devastating life changes. I do hope that  some connections begin to develop between Michael and his partners, however.

Mad Men is a repeat offender. The women in the office just can't find a footing for a friendship beyond bitching about the boss or snippy gossip. In fact, the one way the characters really connect is with sex. And I say all this with love - I am a Mad Men fiend.

It was particularly noticeable when Peggy defended  Joan, and that gorgeous redhead responded by biting back. Peggy's reaction to that was, "Excuse me?!" And I felt like applauding.

Is it  a mark of good writing to have constant loneliness and a lack of friendship between the characters? Has that become a hallmark of a well-written script? Perhaps that is why Pulp Fiction and The Shawshank Redemption stand out for me, since they showcase believable friendships and continuing, deepening connections.

Maybe, in a plot-driven show,  it is difficult to give time to a real human connection - but, no. I refuse to believe it. It  can be done. The writers are incredibly talented, and I hope that friendship does become a bigger theme in the future.

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