Season 2 (part 1) – Stress Tests

Season 2

Dramatic Structure:

There are 3 areas of concern.

Just like season 1. But the areas themselves are different:

Let’s focus on:


This separation theme is specifically expressed in season 2 through:

“Stress Tests”

A “stress test” is when you actively stress a relationship between two characters.

You put their relationship through an ordeal. You really want to test the strength of their bond.

You typically see stress tests applied to:

  • Romances
  • Friendships

Though you could experiment with other relationships as well. Go nuts.


In season 1 of Grey’s Anatomy, Meredith Grey and Derek “McDreamy” Shepherd meet and start dating. Season 1 is all about their romance. At the end of season 1, Derek’s estranged wife shows up, throwing a serious wrench in the works.

Season 2 is then all about Derek giving his wife, Addison, a second chance. They are technically still married, and he thinks he owes it to her to give it another shot. For the Derek/Meredith relationship, this is a huge stress test.

In Mad Men season 2, Don is having an affair with Bobbie Barrett. Eventually, Don’s wife Betty finds out and she kicks him out of the house. They spend the good majority of season 2 on the outs, emotionally, and literally, separated. This is a substantial stress test for the Don/Betty relationship.


In Nip/Tuck season 2, Sean learns that his son Matt, is actually the biological product of his wife Julia, and his best friend and business parter Christian, having an affair.

Sean is devastated. He feels betrayed by his best friend. He takes steps to officially disband the business partnership, and his friendship, with Christian. This is a huge stress test for the Sean/Christian friendship.

In Angel season 2, Angel fires his team. He doesn’t explain to them why. He’s going down a dark path in his one-man war with Wolfram & Hart, and he needs his friends to get gone. They go their own way, and start their own, new, investigation business without him. For the friendship between Angel and the members of his team, this is a total stress test.

So, in season 2 you want to stress your primary relationships. You do this with any kind of separation. Whether it be emotionally, circumstantially, or physically, it doesn’t matter. You just want to stress out those relationships.

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