Season 2 (part 3) – Contradiction

Season 2

Dramatic Structure:

Time to talk about:

Deviation

Season 2 expresses this deviation theme via:

“Contradiction”

Season 2 contradicts what you did in season 1.

Everything you did in season 1, if it can be contradicted, do it. Friends are enemies. Lovers are broken up. Mainstay locations are rarely visited, if at all, etc.

The two most common ways you see this “contradiction” idea employed are:

  • Role Reversals
  • Authority Figures

Role Reversals

In season 1, we established roles for our roster of characters.
In season 2, we want to take those roles, and flip ’em.

  • The best friend becomes a rival.
  • The rival becomes a friend.
  • The teacher becomes a student, etc.

If your roster of characters wasn’t that strongly defined, then you could take a more subtle approach:

In season 2:

  • The smart guy is pretty dumb.
  • The meek guy shows a lot of courage.
  • The tough guy shows his sensitive side, etc.

Let’s look at some concrete examples:

As we discussed with “stress tests” – early in season 2 of Nip/Tuck, Sean discovers his son Matt is not his biological son. This gave us a great stress test. But it also gives us a role reversal.

As Sean goes into a grief spiral, he starts acting more like Christian usually does: irresponsible, self-destructive, he’s drinking more, and having sex with Kimber – Christian’s ex-girlfriend. The responsible, conservative, Sean, has become the self-destructive loose-cannon. This also causes Christian, to behave more like Sean typically would. With Sean going into a tailspin, Christian’s holding things together at the office, being the responsible one, the stable one. A complete contraction to the Christian of season 1.

These two guys, these polar opposites, switch places. They reverse roles.

We see something similar on The O.C.

In season 1 of The O.C. we see Ryan constantly getting into trouble. Wrapped up in drama with Marissa, struggling in school, punching people when he thinks he needs to. Seth, on the other hand spends season 1 being the nice kid. Doing well in school, not drinking, always in before curfew.

But when season 2 hits, both of these guys pull a switch.

Ryan is specifically focusing on school and staying out of trouble. He’s staying away from Marissa and her drama, and he’s dating a nice girl Lindsay. While Seth is staying out late, dating the bad-girl Alex, coming home drunk, and constantly getting grounded.

Their roles in season 2, are a contradiction of their roles in season 1. But they didn’t just reverse roles with their former selves, they also reversed roles with each other.

Nip/Tuck and The O.C. would seem to have very little in common, but in this regard – they’re exactly the same.

Authority Figures

In season 2, you commonly see this contradiction theme expressed in the context of authority figures.

A character who didn’t have authority before, becomes an authority figure now. Or an established authority figure loses that authority in season 2.

In season 1 of Roswell, Sheriff Valenti is seen as an enemy, trying to expose and catch our main character aliens.

In season 2, he’s embraced as a trusted friend and ally. He even goes so far as to lose his badge protecting them and their secret.

In season 1, he was the Bad-Guy sheriff authority figure out to get them. In season 2, he’s the the Good-Guy sheriff who loses his authority in his quest to help them.

In Prison Break season 1, Warden Pope is a constant presence, ruling over the prison. In season 2, the inmates escape, leaving the warden and his authority behind them.

While other supporting characters continued to appear on the show, the Warden and his authority appear only once in the very beginning of season 2 and then he’s gone from the narrative all together. His authority was all over season 1, and then very very absent in season 2.

When applying this contradiction concept to your story, you can reverse established roles, reverse your authority figures, or find any other way to contradict what’s come before.

Just make sure you do some contradictin’!



Season 2 (part 2) – Meaningful Death

Season 2

Dramatic Structure:

Time to address the:

Negative

Season 2 expresses this negative theme via:

“Meaningful Death”

Someone’s going to die. And it has to matter, in big and important ways.

Ideally, it will be a close friend or a family member of a major character. But you have a few other choices if you want to get more subtle. You could kill off a major enemy, or even kill off an important dream of one of your main characters. Get creative.

Friend

In Roswell season 2, we see the death of Alex. A close friend to our main players, and a regular cast member on the show. Killing Alex was a huge deal, for both the characters on the show and the audience. It was undoubtedly meaningful.

Family

In Rescue Me season 2, we see the death of Tommy’s young son Connor. In a world where firefighters are constantly in danger, where it is accepted as “just part of the job,” this death hit the hardest. So unexpected and tragic. It was the most meaningful death in Tommy Gavin’s life.

Enemy

In Dexter season 2, we see the death of Doakes. The man who always saw through Dexter’s facade and spent season 2 trying to catch him. He was a regular on the show, he’d been a major part of the story since day one, and he dies. Even in a show where people die in nearly every episode, you’ve got your meaningful death.

Stranger

The character who dies doesn’t always have to be someone we know well. It could be a stranger.

Maybe one of your main characters hits a stranger with their car and peels off. It’s a hit and run! Season 2 could then play out the ramifications of this event. We see this very thing happen in season 2 of the new 90210 – (2008-2013).

Or you could do something like what Friday Night Lights did.

Towards the end of season 1, Tyra got attacked by a guy in a parking lot. A few months later, in season 2, the attacker returns. But this time her buddy Landry comes to her aid and hits the stalker with a pipe, killing him. Instead of going to the cops, they freak out and dump the body off a bridge. Season 2 then sees them struggling to keep what they did a secret and hold themselves together, as they deal with the gravity of what they’ve done.

These are examples of a different way to exploit the meaningful death. The meaningful part is played out in the repercussions of the killing or the death.

Let’s keep digging.

What else could we do for a meaningful death?

Maybe you wanna go big and do what Prison Break did. In their season 2 we see a unique and extreme application of this meaningful death idea.

Throughout season 2, we see FBI Agent Mahone tracking down and killing many of the show’s supporting cast of characters. There isn’t just one meaningful death, there are a bunch, in the escalating chase to catch the escaped convicts Scofield and Burrows. The death is meaningful partly because characters we know are dying, but mostly because of how many are dying. The meaning is being underscored by the quantity of the death.

In choosing your meaningful death, you’ve got a lot of options to play with. But someone is going down. Ideally it’ll be someone very close to your main characters – to pack the most dramatic punch.

So when writing your season 2 you’ve gotta decide:

Who’s gonna die?



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:

Separation

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.

Romances

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.

Friendships

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.