Lesson #3: Character Sympathy
Television as a writing medium intrigues me. I love the potential to delve into a character’s life and explore in detail different themes and situations on an episode by episode basis. In order to teach myself about writing for television I completed a project during the 2011-2012 television season to further those efforts. I tried all of the pilots of any show that I could possibly be interested in. Let me tell you, it was a lot of television. There were eight of these shows that made my cut but didn’t score with the networks. In this series I’ll explore why I felt they had potential yet explain the pitfall that caused the show to stumble and die.
One of my brothers loved Chuck and so I watched it up until the last year and a half when we stopped watching it together. It’s actually quite amazing how the writers created this bond between you, the audience, and the characters. All the characters to boot.
Chuck is geeky but desirable with a conscious and brains. Sarah is beautiful but with good taste, she knows a good man when she meets him. Casey is tough and hard and not very loyal but a heart of gold. I believe Adam Baldwin goes a long way with making this character endearing. Morgan has all the heart and adds so much to Chuck besides standing on his own as the best friend. Ellie and Devon are the perfect couple and add conflict and threat for Chuck while being a sister and brother-in-law you’d want to have yourself. The crew at the Buy More are a riot and add to any trouble Chuck might encounter, while General Beckman is a great boss at once empowering and challenging.
The thing is, while you care for all of the characters, the writers expect them to do a plethora of stupid stuff and get into increasingly outrageous and unbelievable situations. It’s not to say the plot hasn’t always stretched your ability to suspend disbelief it just stretches it to the breaking point now.
I loved meeting Chuck and Ellie’s mother and father, Ellie and Devon having a baby, Morgan becoming manager and finding a long-term girlfriend (Casey’s daughter) and Chuck and Sarah finally getting married. It’s just we’ve been there done that so now the writers feel the need to out do themselves. When story is cobbled together the next best thing is to create character sympathy. The audience will follow characters they love anywhere, as proven by the lovable but played out Chuck.