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I’m tired of watching people get “voted off.”
competition show seems to use this format: at the end of every week’s
episode, one of the contestants has to leave. It keeps the stakes high
and gives people a reason to watch to the end of the show, of course.
But it has drawbacks.
On the first episode or two of the season,
you’re still just trying to learn the names and keep everyone straight.
You don’t really care about the first person or two who leave, because
you never really get to know them.
Then when you do sort out the
contestants and find a rooting interest, your favorite may not be around
for long. One slip, and the person you most like watching ends up
leaving—which doesn’t give you much incentive to watch the remaining
The other drawback is that this one-per-week
elimination system is no longer fresh. Every show does it. At this
point, I’m just pining for some creativity. For example, instead of
weekly eliminations, a competition show could award points for each
week’s challenges, and the highest point-scorers at the end of the
season would proceed to the finale. If they started with fewer
contestants and kept them around longer, there would be more incentive
for people to identify with those on the show, and less risk of losing
favorites too early.
Similarly, writers can push the boundaries
of their own genres and tropes. Reimagine the love triangle; reinvent
the murder mystery. Bring a twist to the romantic comedy. Turn the
paranormal romance on its head.
Experiments don’t always succeed,
but they get us out of our ruts. Sometimes they set whole new trends.
Often, as writers, we’re following: following rules, following examples,
following precedents. And readers find a certain comfort in knowing
what they’re going to get. But every now and then, it’s fun to try
leading instead of following, fun to play with the unexpected.