Note to Writers: Get A Life

Updated: 14th October 2010

Are the plots of TV series covering less and less of the variety of human existence?

Popular shows include, Hannah Montana, from Disney, about a young pop-star living a double-life as an ordinary schoolgirl; I'm in the Band, from Disney again, about a young guitarist in a rock group; and Jonas, from, umm... Disney, about a young rock group. Does anyone see a pattern here? Other Disney shows have also succumbed to the infection, for example, in The Suite Life of Zack and Cody, the double-episode, "The Suite Life Goes Hollywood" features the eponymous twins travelling to Hollywood to act in a show based on their life at the Hotel Tipton.

Define recursion.

But is this purely a Disney phenomenon? No, the BBC has Extras, a sitcom about extras working on film sets and in theatre. Perhaps the BBC didn't have the budget for Stars? The list so far: stars, actors, extras, now we get to Lead Balloon, a BBC series about a cynical and misanthropic comedian. How funny is that? Let's not forget Disney's Sonny with a Chance, about a young comedienne's life at a TV studio producing the comedy show So Random!. But, in the age of "Reality TV", can a fictional series attract interest, and have the writers been left out? Not with Moving Wallpaper, a BBC fictional series about the making of a real BBC series, Echo Beach, a Cornish version of Home and Away. The interactions of the production team depicted in Moving Wallpaper is reflected in the plot development in Echo Beach. I'm confused.

But another BBC series raises the confusion even further. Rob Brydon's Annually Retentive concerns the making of a comedy panel game show called Annually Retentive. Simple enough, but the comedy panel game show scenes were shot in full, in front of a live audience, as if Annually Retentive was a real show. Was Annually Retentive a real show? It was performed in front of an audience, but never shown in full on TV. Are you confused yet? Did we define recursion?

Common advice to aspiring writers is to write about what you know, but are some writers taking this a bit too far? Do TV Executives allow writers out into the real world?

I know, someone should do a fictional series about the making of a reality TV show following the life of a blogger commenting on the recursiveness of current TV shows.


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