Archetypes are Like Rock n Roll. They’re here to stay.

archetypesby Diana Black

Archetypes are here to stay…

The practice of storytelling is a defining characteristic of Homo sapiens. Why? Let’s take time out for a quick history lesson. As a species, we’ve been around for about 1.5 million years. Going back just 300 000 years ago, we find concrete evidence of ritualized behavior (related to burials) and so there’s
every likelihood that alongside saying ‘Good bye’ to one’s significant others, stories were told. How better to entertain the fireside audience than having certain members of the tribe get on their feet – adorn themselves with make-up and costume and take on a ‘role’ – the hunter, the hunted etc.?

Conflict as a premise started early. If we do the math, that roughly equates to members of 12 000 generations (? 4 gen/100 years) ‘strutting the floorboards’. Equally peculiar, is the notion that by-and-large, we’re still enacting the same dramas; only now they’re ‘gussied-up’ with marginally more
sophisticated plotlines and CGI.

A thrilling drama was back then, a great way to convince the kids not to stray from the fireside and toe the party line, and such stories also serve young and old alike, as a ‘survival lesson’. They resonate emotionally somewhere deep in our primitive psyche. Thus it seems that professional lying and exaggeration have been around for a long time.

While indigenous Australians are arguably the oldest extant human culture on the planet – in existence for at least 50 000 years, historically they only had oral language – it’s hard to cart books around when you have to survive in a harsh environment that demands you go ‘nomadic’. So, the earliest record of dramatic performance in the western world comes from the Greek civilization – just over 2 500 years ago.

While we no longer dutifully attend the festivals supposedly honoring Dionysus, which were really more about receiving the latest regulatory decree from the State (think giant staff meeting) and catching up on the local ‘goss’, drama via film and theatre remains informed by the dramatic structure outlined by Aristotle in Poetics – a treatise of dramatic and literary theory written some 2 350 years ago, which includes characterization.

‘Stereotype’ was explored in another article, so let’s now look at ‘archetype’, especially in relation to character. [It] doesn’t seem to have garnered the same derogatory connotation. ‘Archetype’ (from the Greek archein), is defined as ‘the original’. The Swiss psychologist, Carl Jung, considered archetype to be universally and instantly recognizable because it’s rooted in our collective unconsciousness in relation to ideas, situations and character. This makes sense if we’ve been dramatizing characters in specific settings, under specific circumstances for at least 2 500 if not 50 000 years. Old habits, in this case – ‘memes’, die hard.

Classically, characters were identified as: ‘the’ hero, mother figure, innocent youth, mentor, scapegoat, the villain or the doppelganger – the mirrored dark side of someone’s personality.

Now, in the 21 st Century, Jonathan Truby, in Anatomy of Story (an informative read), takes it further. He outlines characters as ‘the’ hero, then, ‘the’ opponent, ally, fake-ally opponent, fake-opponent ally, and sub-plot character/s. Why the distinction? In his book, he explores the notion of the
‘character web’. He makes it clear that it’s not enough to think about who is strutting the boards with whom, but also, the nature of those interactions and within what context – setting and circumstance.

Truby, of course, is not alone in taking dramatic theory to this higher level but what resonated the most strongly – for me at least, was the notion that the web and interplay of characters essentially defines the hero, making it imperative to provide balance, juxtaposition of character and every principal character being 3-dimensional.

Looking at the current offerings on television, can we tick boxes in relation to the above? Is the lack of balance and a fully functional web of archetypal characters responsible for the cancellations?

Diana Black is an Australian actress and writer in Larry Brody’s Master Class.


Premium Beat does us all a great service by taking a long-needed new look at how mythologist Joseph Campell and his #1 acolyte, a guy named George Lucas, changed the showbiz story template:


The Recurring Myth Behind Your Favorite Films
by Scott Porter

American thinker and writer Joseph Campbell spent considerable time exploring the facets of myth and religion. But he is perhaps best known for two concepts that have permeated modern culture. The first is the idea that you should “follow your bliss.” You’ve surely seen the phrase written on chalkboards in coffeeshops. In an interview with journalist Bill Moyers, Campbell (referring to Sinclair Lewis’s satiric novel, Babbitt) asks:

Remember the last line? ‘I have never done a thing that I wanted to do in all my life.’ That is a man who never followed his bliss.

The second of Campbell’s most influential concepts, first presented in his novel The Hero with a Thousand Faces, is that of the monomyth. More simply put, the monomyth is the literary and philosophical theory of the hero’s journey. If you are a fan of film, you are already intimately familiar with it. In Campbell’s own words, the hero’s journey is a tale in which:

A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man.

Sound familiar? Here’s why.

A Long Time Ago in a Galaxy Far, Far Away… And Everywhere Else, Too

You’ll find plenty of monomyth tropes in the art and religion of every culture throughout history. Campbell didn’t really invent the idea. He identified it. And then Hollywood ran with it, creating and adapting content based on the template. During his tenure as an executive at Disney, Christopher Vogler circulated a studio memo that outlined the hero’s journey in twelve steps. Those steps are bolded in the summary quote below:

The hero’s journey, once more:  The hero is introduced in his ORDINARY WORLD where he receives the CALL TO ADVENTURE.  He is RELUCTANT at first to CROSS THE FIRST THRESHOLD where he eventually encountersTESTS, ALLIES and ENEMIES.  He reaches the INNERMOST CAVE where he endures the SUPREME ORDEAL.  HeSEIZES THE SWORD or the treasure and is pursued on the ROAD BACK to his world.  He is RESURRECTED and transformed by his experience.  He RETURNS to his ordinary world with a treasure, boon, or ELIXIR to benefit his world.

Below is a handy graphic representation of Vogler’s summary. Use this as a blueprint for your next script and you just might end up wildly, stupidly successful….

Read it all at Premium Beat

Crowdfunding: STAR WARS/JAY-Z Parody

The ever-popular, just-waiting-to-become-immortal Matthew Schwartz

The ever-popular, just-waiting-to-become-immortal Matthew Schwartz

Yesterday we all were treated to Matt Schwartz’s awesome STRAIGHT OUTTA GOTHAM mashup, and today…lo and behold, we find that Matt’s at it again and needs our support.

Yep, dood’s on Kickstarter for the next 22 days, looking for funding for his latest music video. But why should we strain at finding the right words of explanation when Matt’s already got ’em:

In October 2014, I got laid off (thanks, Obama!) and was unsure what to do with myself. I had spent 20 years in the entertainment business working on indie films, developing animated TV, building websites, and producing games. (You can check out my online portfolio for the highlights.) Rather than look at my situation as a setback, I looked at it as an opportunity. What could I realistically do with my newfound creative freedom coupled with the added benefit of a decent severance package?

I determined that a MUSIC VIDEO was the way to go. Short by nature, music videos are very popular online and extremely share-able. Directing a music video was both attainable and a great way to establish myself as an independent creative artist. As a lover of hip-hop and comic books, I had the idea of mashing up N.W.A. with Batman villains long before I even knew the movie Straight Outta Compton was in production. Once I heard the film was coming out in the summer of 2015, my plans went into full effect and “Straight Outta Gotham” was born.

STRAIGHT OUTTA GOTHAM was a YouTube megahit, so now Matt’s turning his love – and talent – for music videos toward the biggest parody enchilada of ’em all, STAR WARS, with his version of STAR WARS EPISODE VII even though he’s as clueless as the rest of us about what that film will be. His goal is to have his new masterpiece up and running on the interwebs by December 18th, to coincide with the release of the new SW.

STAR WARS means special effects, and SFX means mucho dinero, which translates into Matt’s goal being to raise $10,000. For more about what his video will be like and what goodies backers will get, all of us here at TVWriter™ want to encourage you to CHECK OUT MATT’S KICKSTARTER PAGE and contribute whatcha can.

And in case you don’t feel like clicking the link at the beginning of this post, here’s STRAIGHT OUTTA GOTHAM again in all its glory:

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Peggy Bechko Wants Writers to Raise the Stakes & “Make It Kick!”

by Peggy Bechko


See what we’re doing here? “Raise the stakes…?” Sure ya do.

You heard me and you know what I mean. To make a story really jump, to grab the viewer’s or reader’s attention, you, the writer, have to get in there and raise the stakes. Make it really personal for the ‘hero’ or ‘heroine.” There’s no better way to really rope ‘em in.

So how, you ask, to you raise the stakes like that?

Ask yourself the question, what are the most personal things, things that affect the everyday lives of the people who’ll be watching that movie or reading that book, that can happen if the character fails at whatever his task is?

It’s so obvious I can make a list:

He’ll lose his job or his life savings or decimate his kid’s college fund, or all of the above.

His family or friends will think ill of him or be disappointed in him. He’ll never be able to face them or hold his head up again.

Something he does will trigger events that will crush someone else – and he decides to do it because the consequences if he doesn’t are too grave.

His reputation will be ruined.

He’ll lose someone he cares deeply about whether through disassociation or death. Whatever it is may cause a wife to divorce or a child to be lost because of lack of treatment for illness.

He’ll be forced to give up a treasured goal or position. He might lose his CEO position and his golden parachute if it’s discovered he’s been embezzling. He might lose his cherished school janitor position. You choose.

He could create a situation that could cause an innocent to pay for his mistake. Maybe he cares. Maybe he doesn’t. Could be a great story either way.

It’s possible he’ll find himself in a position where he has to take a big risk in order to right the untenable situation. It could be a physical risk, a financial risk, a lifestyle risk or a combination. Think of all the situations where taking the risk can result in the ultimate good or the ultimate bad.

Perhaps he forces another to take a risk as great as getting killed in his stead. Maybe he’s in the arm or the police or a firefighter. Perhaps he’s on a rescue team or a crew member on a cruise ship. There are lots of ways that can play out.

Those are a whole lot of the basics. No doubt you can think of more especially if you think back over the books and movies you’ve read (and don’t forget the history books!).

But the key component here is it’s very personal. And by virtue of that simple fact it becomes a much more gripping story element. It’s something the readers and viewers can identify with. All of the above are things people may have experienced in their own lives and if the writer is skilled enough to ratchet those stakes up high enough those kinds of things are what will keep people glued to the screen or turning pages.

The problem or the stakes s to speak, being real, are internalized and for the viewer/reader it turns into a nail-biting experience.

So don’t alienate the audience by putting emotional distance between them and the story. Make it very personal.

Peggy Bechko is a TVWriter™ Contributing Editor.  Learn more about her HERE. And don’t forget Peggy’s new comic series, Planet of the Eggs, written and illustrated with Charlene Brash-Sorensen is available on Kindle.  Grab your copy now!


Who says a parody video can’t be as funky as the original?

Longtime TVWriter™ pro visitor Matt Schwartz (formerly a – gasp! – Cartoon Network Creative Exec) hits it outta the park:

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Written and Directed by: Matthew Schwartz. Starring: Cody Beasinger, Jon Silva, Jason Beever, Kyle Beasinger, Yoko Mizuhara, John Hinson, and Gavin Richards. Produced by Matthew Schwartz and Mike Terrell.

Get the MP3 here: Check out the CLEAN + EXTENDED version here: Get the DIRTY LYRICS version here:…

How Interweb Criticism Reinvented ‘The Leftovers’

The days of the couch potato audience are over. Even major TV series creator-showrunners like LOST’s Damon Lindelof understand that audience interaction is now the name of the game. And all we here at TVWriter™ can say is, “About time:

maxresdefault2by Moze Halperin

Imagine if you could have blogged, “Let’s not determine Laura Palmer’s murderer right now” or “Patrick should give up on Spongebob, it’s never going to happen” or “He really needed to get eaten alive” — and had your opinion-dumps be taken for gospel, changing TV history in service of the greater good? 

Generally, before a new season, we can assume that producers and networks band together to assess critical and audience reactions to the former season. Rarely have these assessments seemed so visible, and so loyal to specific critiques, as the second season of The Leftovers. Watching Season 2, it seems less like creators Damon Lindelof and Tom Perrotta reimagined their show than that every critical blog post conjoined in a communal, idealized fan fictional doppelgänger of the original.

The process of constructing a new vision for the show based on accidentally constructive criticism could have gone completely awry, resulting in disjointed and excessive pandering, but the creators appear to have had an impeccably coherent plan for addressing the critiques: they’ve maintained a semblance of the show they first made while restructuring it on the most fundamental levels.

The Location

Criticism: Though few directly took issue with the show’s original setting of Upstate NY, there were elements of the location that bothered people: the rural colorlessness of Mapleton led to criticism about how “[the show’s] slowness can seem shallow, its artiness willful,” or how “bleak isn’t the same thing as profound.” The creators chose a setting to match the tone, not complicate it.

The Solution: Send the morose characters who mirrored their morose location somewhere more spirited. The new location — Miracle, TX — is also a small town. But as its name suggests, it is not supposed to be an American Anywhere, but a singular place that’s been heightened to the level of being an exalted symbol (Miracle is a nickname — the town is actually called Jarden)….

Read it all at Flavorwire