31 Jul 2014 1 Comment
Writers read differently, whether we want to or not. I’ve known this for a long time. While I’m still able to lose myself in a fictional world, I’m almost always aware of little things the non-writing reader does not consciously consider. For instance, I notice an author’s word choices. I occasionally balk at the author’s choice and my mind spontaneously offers a better word for the situation. Sometimes I rewrite sentences that seem awkward, and other times I reread and savior one I find particularly captivating. (Often wishing I’d written that specific sentence.) I pay more attention to timelines and days of the week. (Why has this person worked 12 days in a row? Is there never a weekend?) I notice the way a mystery author leaves little clues as to the killer’s identity and the way a suspense author builds tension.
What I’ve come to realize more recently is that we writers also watch TV differently. I’m not a big fan of popular TV shows, but I do have some favorites. There are times I need to turn my mind off and let the TV do all the work. This brings me to the point of today’s post. Despite all the hype surrounding the program, I had not watched Dexter. People kept telling me I needed to. Some said the series reminded them a bit of my Michael Sykora Novels. Virtually everyone told me the show was great. And so, with this in mind, my husband and I embarked on our mission to watch the entire Dexter series. Thanks to Netflix, we have just finished season 7.
First, I have to thank my husband for his patience, not with the show, but with my constant outbursts. No doubt I am miserable to watch TV with.
I don’t want to give everyone the wrong idea. I don’t hate the show. The concept is intriguing and I do see a slight comparison with my Michael Sykora Series. But, honestly, the plot holes are wearing my patience thin.
Let’s take just season 7 for an example. Debra catches Dexter in the act of murder. After helping him cover it up, she decides she’s going to fix him or some such thing. She demands he move in with her so that she can watch him 24/7. Well that’s fine, right? Wrong. Dexter has a child. He is the single father of a toddler. Now Dexter moves in with his sister, but there is absolutely no mention of the son he presumably leaves at home with the nanny. Not once during the entire time Dexter lives with his sister is this explained. What excuse did he give the nanny for suddenly needing to abandon his son to go live with his sister? Why didn’t he take his kid with him? Why didn’t Deb move in with him, so that he could stay with his child? Why is the nanny okay with being left to raise Dexter’s kid? Why didn’t this huge plot hole bother anyone else?
The nanny is a whole other issue, my mountain of disbelief to climb. To be clear, she is not a live-in nanny. She is a young college girl who apparently has no problem with Dexter being gone for days at a time. How she manages to care for a toddler full-time while attending college classes is beyond me. She has this kid all the time. Dexter will make an appearance, literally for a minute or two, and he’s gone again. No explanation, aside from the vague, “I have things to do.”
We just watched the last episodes of season 7. It’s Christmas Eve, and Dexter asks the nanny to stay overnight so that he can go kill someone. Of course, he doesn’t tell her this. Presumably the nanny thinks he and his girlfriend are going back to her place to have sex. Although this makes no sense as an excuse either. Why wouldn’t Dexter’s girlfriend simply stay at his place, so they could wake up on Christmas morning with his son? And, really, does this nanny, a beautiful college girl, have no life of her own? Does she not want to be somewhere else on Christmas?
And what about Dexter’s job? I swear that guy has the best job ever, because he’s never there! He no sooner gets to work, when suddenly he has to chase down someone he wants to kill. He just gets up and goes. He’s at a crime scene, but needs to be somewhere else to follow or kill someone, and so he simply says he needs to be leave. And he does. All the time. He has more days off and more job flexibility than anyone I’ve ever known.
Sure, the show is fiction, and fiction is make-believe, but it still has to be believable. A leap of faith is one thing. Vaulting across a chasm is another thing entirely. Consequently, I spend a lot of time yelling at the TV and sputtering my disapproval. I’m the opposite of a cheerleader. To my husband’s credit, he tolerates my outbursts and occasionally joins in.
I don’t mean to pick solely on Dexter. It just happens to be the show I’m watching most these days. And, honestly, there is a lot to pick on with this series. Yet it’s oddly compelling, like a bad traffic accident I just have to see.
I wonder if the writers realize they’re leaving gaping plot holes. I don’t know anything about script writing, though I assume the writers didn’t forget Dexter had a kid when he went to live with his sister. I didn’t read the book series, so I don’t know if these holes are specific to the TV series, like a kind of lost in translation thing, or if they also exist in the print series. Either way, I’ve fallen in so many plot holes along the way that I’ll finish this series bruised and battered. Still, I’ll finish this series, partly to see if they manage to fill in some holes and mostly because my husband likes it.
Do you think people are more tolerant of plot holes in a TV show than they are with a novel? Or is it the other way around? I’m beginning to think I’m less tolerant of both overall. Whether I’m watching TV or reading a novel, I don’t want to fall in plot holes or climb mountains of disbelief. I want to take the journey without stumbling or exerting myself. I want the writer to do the work so that I don’t have to. Or maybe, for once, I want to watch and read like a spectator instead of a writer.