Good afternoon. Gigi the parti poodle here once again to introduce my novelist. Tomorrow starts Valentine’s Day weekend and President’s Day weekend. I must say I love Valentine’s Day. Being a gorgeous specimen of the canine variety, I am often showered with many gifts from suitors. There is a dachshund across the street who adores me. Down the way there is a Pardon Russell terrier who finds me mysterious and intriguing and then there’s a black and white Pomeranian who…
Tucker loves you very, very much!
It’s never going to happen, you unkempt Maltese, so forget it!
I don’t love you in that way. I love you as a friend.
You are friend zoning me? Seriously? You aren’t even in my league.
I think that King Charles Spaniel by the park is cute.
And she likes me.
She doesn’t even know you exist!
I asked her to go out on Valentine’s Day. We are going to walk in the park and sniff each other.
Good grief! I don’t need those kinds of sordid details!
Maybe someday a dog will recognize your unique beauty.
My unique beauty?! I’m beautiful in all eyes!
Do you mind if I borrow the Lucy Blue Lightning Blueberry Grooming Spray? I want to smell my best.
Get out of here! Can you believe the nerve of that…? Anyhow. Without further ado here is my novelist.
Happy Valentine’s Day and President’s Day weekend! First, I must make a confession. I tried to read Harlequin Romances when I was younger. I gave it the old college try. But every single time I cracked open one of these books and began to peruse the pages I’d get a headache. I am not kidding. A nasty headache. This stuff was not for me. Now, don’t get me wrong I am 110% behind a great romance. In fact, I am suggesting one of the best for this week’s Stream of the Week. I love Harold and Maude, The Graduate, 9 ½ Weeks, The Apartment, Rebecca, Chasing Amy, The Painted Veil, Sex Lies and Video Tape, Secretary, Blue Velvet, Paris, Texas, Bound, Leaving Las Vegas, Sweet Hostage, Welcome to the Dollhouse, The Terminator, Kissed, Flower, Vertigo, Boxing Helena and of course Zac and Miri Make a Porno. But apparently my taste in romance is different from the swooning pretty boy adoring stories others flock to.
Which brings us to Bridgerton, the newest girly hit on Netflix and yes, I have watched the entire first season. It has gorgeous costumes, beautiful sets, solid direction, well cast actors. Some of the jewelry looks a little too modern at times but that is not the problem. In fact, at first, I could not figure out what the problem was. But I knew the show had a problem from the first episode.
That doesn’t mean romance stories are bad. But something was wrong with Bridgerton. Then on a Sunday morning after I was two thirds of the way through the series it dawned on me. There is no villain in this story. Now, if you look at one of my favorite Netflix shows Cobra Kai you’ve got a villain. In fact, you have more than one. But in Bridgerton most of the characters make choices based on desperation or some “cleverly” written promise they made to someone. And then these would-be baddies quickly see the error of their ways and their villainy vanishes. Not so with Cobra Kai. Kreese is nasty and he just keeps getting nastier. Hawk is vengeful and he just keeps getting more violent. Tory is manipulative and she just keeps getting more maniacal. Their actions steer the lives of the other characters, compound the tension, and keep things intriguing. Not so with Bridgerton.
Bridgerton is a Gossip Girl-esque style show with someone called Lady Whistledown in the Gossip Girl role who is the eyes and ears of this niche group of aristocrats. And I will say when they reveal who Whistledown is the writer made an excellent character choice. But in Gossip Girl you have villains who become more and more interesting. So much so they started to take the center stage more frequently as the show progressed at least for a few seasons. But as far as its first season goes, there is no villain in Bridgerton, and I believe that’s why the storylines feel flat. There is no Chuck Bass there is no Blair Waldorf or if you want a period piece there is no Valmont there is no Marquise de Merteuil. The villain is what often smartens up a story. It’s what gives a tale it’s verve. Although Bridgerton is a very watchable show it lacks verve.
I remember taking a class with a writer who penned a screenplay with no conflict. As admirable as this experiment is it does not work. In fact, it defies physics. An object at rest will stay in rest and an object in motion will stay in motion unless acted upon by an outside force. All stories need an outside force to push it along or change its course. I hope Bridgerton finds that force.
MUSICOLOGY: VOLUME TWO, KID! IS FREE ON KINDLE!
My novel Musicology: Volume Two, Kid! is FREE on Amazon now until Sunday, 2/14! Happy Valentine’s Day!!!
STREAM OF THE WEEK: THE PIANO (1993)-Pluto
One of the most original and sumptuous romances ever filmed, Jane Campion’s magnum opus garnered three academy awards as well as one Golden Globe, three Baftas, eleven Australia Film Institute awards, five Los Angeles Critic’s Association awards, two National Society of Film Critics’ Awards, three New York Film Critics’ Awards, the Writer’s Guild of America best screenplay, National Board of Review top ten film and best actress, best actress at Cannes and the Palm d’Or. This extraordinary film set in the mid 1800’s is about a mute Scottish woman named Ada McGrath (Holly Hunter in her brilliant academy award winning performance) who expresses her emotions through her piano. She has a ten-year-old daughter named Flora (Anna Paquin in her academy award winning performance). Ada’s father marries her off to a man she has never met named Alisdair Stewart who lives in the craggy New Zealand forest and Ada and Flora go to live with him. Not understanding Ada or for that matter women at all, Alisdair insists she leave her precious piano on the shore because it is too heavy to bring back home. He ends up selling the piano to his neighbor George (Harvey Keitel) who sees Ada’s disappointment in her new life and talks Alisdair into having her give him piano lessons of a most peculiar kind.
SCREENWRITINGU FREE CLASS FRIDAY: HOW TO WRITE A CONTAINED MOVIE: AN ANALYSIS OF ALIEN
You can sign up for the class here. The class starts at 12:00 noon PST. All ScreenwritingU classes are teleconferences unless otherwise noted.