Friday, May 16, 2014

When Drama Becomes Too Much

I have what I call a "drama threshold" also known as the point at which there is so much drama involved that I can no longer handle it anymore. I should probably note that this applies to books, TV, and movies, not life. I've been thinking about this a lot lately, how much drama is just enough and how much is too much.

One of my favorite shows of all time is Castle. I started watching it my freshman year of college when season four was airing and I fell in love instantly. I marathoned the entire show over the course of about three weeks and then continued to watch at least an episode a day for the next week because I didn't want to let it go.

Fast-forward two years to where we are now: season six. I haven't seen the last two episodes and I never intend to. From here on out, I'm done with the show. What changed?

The show crossed my drama threshold. (I'll try to be vague in the interest of avoiding spoilers.) There was a main conflict that started all the way back in season one that just continued to escalate all the way up to now until I'm tired of hearing about it and I just want it to go away. Increasingly implausible things have happened and I can't handle them.

The most important thing is to know when to quit. Long arcs are okay, but they have to keep escalating for a reason, not for the sake of continuing drama. If the words "This is bigger than you realize" are used, I'm automatically out. If there is one thing Burn Notice taught me, it's that those words are a dark hole that no one comes out of. Whether those reasons are new information or new characters, there has to be a reason. When the arc is done, let it go. Find something new to cause conflict for the characters.

Shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer toe this line perfectly. The drama continued to escalate with each new season and sometimes old plotlines came back to haunt characters, but it was never too much.