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  • Writer's pictureJessica Nacovsky

57: Tropes I Hate

Howdy! I'm not anti tropes. These tendencies are common because they work. However, there are some I'm sick of seeing.

Ideally, the following tropes should die out:

Love Triangles: These add unnecessary conflict and are less interesting than the overall plot. If this is the overall plot, hard pass.

Amnesia: I've seen good movies and read decent books where the protagonist suffered from amnesia. That said, it's overdone and too convenient of a plot device.

Plot fueled by lack of communication: This should’ve died after Romeo and Juliet. It's been done to death in every sitcom and romcom from the 90's and I have zero patience for it. Recently I was watching Katla on Netflix (which you'll enjoy if you liked DARK), and I was loving it up until the final two episodes on the first (and currently, only) season. Then, for two episodes, I had to sit through a long one-sided fight due to a complete lack of communication. Now, that lack was persistent throughout the season, and I don't know how they would've concluded the season as they intended, without that lack, but it's annoyingly convenient and I had to really suspend my disbelief to swallow it.

Mary Sue: I never had a problem with Mary Sues (Gilmore Girls is one of my favorite shows) before reading REAMDE, by Neil Stephenson. Now, I can't stomach a perfect character, but the problem seems more persistent with female characters.

Women are excused from behaving badly: Something I've recently began to notice (less in literature than film), is that a female character will commit an unforgivable crime. Then, they are absolved of that crime either because they were literally under mind control, or they were experiencing memory and behavioral lapses due to traumatic experiences where they were very clearly the victim. Women are capable of committing crimes. Women can be mean, hateful, and bad. It's frankly insulting to pretend otherwise.

Ham-fisting that women can be strong: To understand what I mean, the best example is that scene in the Avenger's movie, End Game, where suddenly all of the heroines appear in a neatly cropped shot to play keep-away from the big bad. One of these heros had been in the midst of fiddling with a very important machine, and they'd all been distributed across a vast battlefield, in the midst of their own strifes a couple of scenes prior. We had to take a break from a massive battle, as a audience, so they could look knowingly at each other and quip about their ability to be useful. This is the equivalent of bashing the audience over the head with "Girls are strong!" Duh. And they'd been showing exactly that with every prior scene of those female characters, without their having to state it. What would have been more effective would have been maintaining closer to a 50:50 ratio of female to male heroes throughout the series. One of the criticisms I had for the Wheel of Time books that Robert Jordan wrote, was that I felt like when he wrote female characters, he was trying to write women who were strong, instead of characters who were strong and happened to be women. They rang false. I think Brandon Sanderson wrote the cast much more believably, not just regarding the female characters, but especially with Mat, who was suddenly funny.

Conflict for conflict's sake: This is often social, perhaps romantic, and distracts from whatever greater stakes problem I’m actually invested in. Using Stranger Things as an example, I don’t care if a bunch of thirteen-years-olds aren't speaking, or for instance, if a couple is on the verge of divorce when the world is ending. TV shows have a habit of spawning another convoluted problem just as one subplot is coming to an end, and sometimes, I just want to bask in relief for a moment.

Every character is hot OR every character of the protagonist's gender of sexual interest is a 10: I don't mind if the main character and their love interest are attractive. Viewers and readers alike will find them more sympathetic if they're nice to look at. I don't mind if super heroes are attractive. That makes sense for them as peak humans. However, the remainder of the cast should not be 10s. Regular people are of every height, weight, and many are bald or balding. People have wrinkles, stretch marks, acne, disabilities, etc. This should be reflected by a diverse cast.

Protagonist is old or unattractive yet a hot person is in love with them: @VRonline once tweeted, "any time a beautiful 23 year old woman in a movie is attracted to a mediocre man played by a comedian who wrote the script I count it as a plot hole" which nails it. I don't mind self inserts, but I can only suspend disbelief so far when a young model is vying for the interest of a pot-bellied man in his fifties.

The bad guy is whatever nationality the USA military is currently promoting a war with: This reads as propaganda and feeds into racism.

Jumping the shark: Any series that continues past the natural conclusion runs the risk of adding extreme plot elements demanding excessive suspension of disbelief. For example, look to Supernatural when a popular deity chose to live as mid-list writer in the USA. Or, consider the kidnapping season on Sons of Anarchy. Maybe it's not as profitable to end a popular series with the conclusion of the overarching plot, but doing otherwise leaches merit from the story.

Main character comes back from the dead: Once a character has been brought back to life, this cheapens the emotional impact of all following deaths within that story.

The following are only an issue for movies & TV shows:

Everyone who should speak a foreign language speaks British English: This is lazy. The Great on Hulu is a perfect example of this. Here, we have a princess born in Prussia, who was raised by a French tutor, entering Russian court. There are several languages that could have been included in the show, with English subtitles. This would have afforded a more diverse cast of actors and actresses, rather than only those with established careers, a chance on-screen. Being a comedy, perhaps the jokes wouldn't have translated as well in written form, but, it feels lazy not even having the Ottomans, French, or Swedes speaking a foreign language. I mean, heck, at least give them the accent of a fluent speaker! But no, everyone sounds British.

CGI photoshopping for beauty's sake: I'm personally offended by this for the same reason I detest beautifying filters on camera apps. It's bad enough that Hollywood has gone the way of making every character in film a literal model, so that anyone impressionable feels subpar in comparison. Now those ideal humans are being digitally altered to look even more perfect! Sandra Bullock is stunning with her pores and wrinkles. Who benefits from altering her to look like she's in her thirties? People age and that should be reflected in popular media. In France, because eating disorders have become so prevalent, a law was enacted where ads have to state photoshopping has occurred. I'd rather if there were set standards of how far individuals could be digitally altered for beauty's sake in general, and when irrelevant to the plot in films.

Musical episodes: This is a sign that the overarching plot has long-since concluded and the writers are low on ideas. While the episode itself might be creative, it's the final death knell of a tale that's lost its credibility.

Thanks for stopping by. I hope any of this was interesting. I drop a new blog post every Monday. Toodles!

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