TV Pet Peeves
April 20, 2016
In the vein of my previous ranty-rant about the stubble bubble, I have more issues to get off of my chest about some silly conventions in entertainment.
- The Shoulder Wiggle:
When actors deliver lines, 9 times out of 10 they do this shoulder wiggle thing. Maybe it’s because they can’t step off of their marks and it’s their only way to express body language. But it’s disconcerting. Their shoulders never – wiggle – stay – wiggle – still. Each syllable seems to come with a wiggle.
Tom Brokaw used to wiggle and lean like a broken animatronic newscaster when he was heading NBC News. Has he started an acting school for actors who can’t bend at the waist?
The worse the show, the more the wiggling. Once you notice it, the rest of the acting just disappears. All you see are the -shoulder wiggles-. I’ve found that the more still and quiet an actor is, the more drawn we are to what their mouth and their body language are saying.
2. Three Layers of Clothing Rule:
Never mind that women are chronically under-dressed on TV. Most male characters, especially the supporting characters, seem required to wear three layers of clothing on their chest. T-shirt, button down-shirt, then a jacket or coat. Even indoors. Especially in California. Comedies do this more than dramas, because dramas have figured out that the tough guy in a open-collar button down shirt with a sport jacket looks bad ass and casual.
In reality, men generally wear one layer indoors in a temperature-controlled climate. Two if they’re outside. Three if they’re outside on a mountain. You guys spend a lot of money on set design and lighting but then dress the men like they are about to go skiing.
3. Villains Who Need to Relate:
“You and I are not all that different, really,” says every bad guy these days during the first or the final confrontation with the hero. It is the lamest, laziest line a villain can say. Do villains have some compelling need to relate to their enemies, especially right before they try to kill them? Are they lonely outcasts trying to fit in? Do writers fail to realize how lame that line is? Do I need to explain it? I do?
- It’s a verbal mustache twirl that makes the character cardboard thin. This does not make the villain the hero of his own story. It makes him a tool in the writers’ story.
- About half the time, the villain is wrong because the writers want the audience to disagree with him and root for the hero. This is the equivalent of tying the damsel to the railroad tracks or Force-choking subordinates for honest mistakes.
- About half the time, the villain is right because the anti-hero is really just another bad guy but his puppeteer is just pulling the strings in different directions to shove the plot forward.
- It makes the villain look stupid and ignorant when the hero is completely different. And any hero response that isn’t along the lines of “Do you even hear yourself?” then the hero is just as stupid. And possibly the writers too.
- It wrecks any kind of verbal realism. It’s not dialog any more, it’s a cliche contest.