There has been much hype regarding the premiere of the final season of LOST, including a rumor that the White House actually changed the date of the State of the Union address so that people wouldn’t gripe about missing their favorite show.
I, for one, remain unmoved. I was game to watch the first season, willingly suspending disbelief as an unseen growly monster menaced the survivors, satisfied with glimpses into the characters’ pasts to explain their occasionally unlikely reactions. After awhile, though, the writers began asking just too much from me in that department, and I lost patience with the whole thing.
Frankly, if there is one thing that I cannot stand when watching a show or reading, it is preposterousness.
Yes, it’s a word:
contrary to reason or common sense; utterly absurd or ridiculous : a preposterous suggestion. See note at absurd .
preposterously |priˈpɑst(ə)rəsli| |prəˈpɑst(ə)rəsli| adverb
preposterousness |priˈpɑst(ə)rəsnəs| |prəˈpɑst(ə)rəsnəs| noun
(The New Oxford American Dictionary)
Suspended disbelief is a standard requirement when reading fiction or watching a show, but more and more, it seems that writers are taking advantage of it. In their quest to create something edgy, they push the envelope into absurdity.
Inauthentic dialogue tops the list. Nothing is more annoying than having a character say things that no one would ever really say, or when a character speaks on and on without even an “um hmmmm,” from whomever is being spoken to. When what a character says is just absurd, the story loses its credibility and I no longer care about what happens.
I also hate it when characters do things that no one would really do, or when a plot twist takes an unbelievable stretch. I was just watching a show last evening where a woman was opening her own beauty shop and kept getting hit with fines. That is certainly a plausible situation. My objection was to the fact that this was supposed to be a pseudo realistic portrayal (however clichéd) and the fines were for very silly things that no one would ever really be fined for. That was a channel changer.
The main component necessary to hook the reader/viewer is empathy. The development of this rests largely in the plausibility of a character’s reactions and responses. How can the reader/viewer hang in there when those responses are absurd? Even when, and perhaps especially if, a character is thrust into a magical world, their reactions need to seem authentic to sustain the reader/viewer’s willingness to go along with the plot. As far as I’m concerned, LOST lost that in the first season.
This Tuesday night, instead of feeling vexed by LOST, I plan to drink a cup of lemon tea and nibble on a square of dark chocolate while I work on the next chapter of my work in progress. Which will involve psychologically plausible responses by all characters, no matter how unlikely the situations they find themselves in.