Season 5 (part 1) – Family

Season 5

Dramatic Structure:

Has 3 areas of concern:

First, let’s address that…

Connection

In season 5, this connection idea is expressed through:

“Family”

The most common expressions of this idea that you’ll see are:

  • Loss/Gain
  • Sacrifice

Loss/Gain

“Loss/Gain” is exactly what you think.

Characters either “gain” family – through a marriage, a birth, an adoption, etc. Or characters “lose” family – through a death, divorce, disownment, etc.

Let’s slice up a plate of examples!

Smallville season 5. Clark loses his father, Jonathan. He dies of a heart attack. That’s some clear and significant “loss of family.”

In season 5 of Mad Men, Don is remarried to his former secretary Megan. He brings her into his family, and embraces hers. That’s some big time “gain of family.”

Sacrifice

Typically you’ll see this expressed as someone making a sacrifice for their family. But occasionally, it’s someone being sacrificed by their family.

Examples!

Buffy the Vampire Slayer – season 5. Buffy sacrifices her life to save her sister Dawn and the rest of the world. Pretty cut and dry. She sacrifices herself, for her family.

Sons of Anarchy – season 5. Opie takes Jax’s place in a prison execution. One of them has to die and Opie sacrifices himself to save his brothers. He sacrificed himself, for his (motorcycle club) family.

Notice that when we say “family,” it doesn’t have to be actual blood relatives. Anytime you have a group of people, connected by some kind of shared commonality or caring – you’ve got a “family.”

Alright, both of those examples were people sacrificing for their family. How about the flip side?

We see this on The Shield. At the end of season 5, Shane kills Lem to protect the rest of the Strike Team. Shane sacrificed him, for what he believed to be the greater good.

We see the same thing in season 5 of The Sopranos. Tony sacrifices his cousin Tony B., in order to avoid going to war with Johnny Sack and the New York families. He killed his own cousin, sacrificed him, because he believed it to be the best possible outcome.

In season 5, you can express this “family” theme however you like, but commonly you’ll see people do it with a loss/gain, or sacrifice.



Season 4 (part 1) – Disbandments

Season 4

It’s a new era Animals!

Dramatic Structure:

Has 3 areas of concern:

First up, it’s all about that…

Separation

Here in season 4, this separation idea is expressed through:

“Disbandments”

We see all kinds of disbandments in season 4, but…

The most common types you’ll see are:

  • Partnerships
  • Marriages

Partnerships

The disbandment of a “partnership” would be like what we see on The Shield:

Season 3 ended with the Strike Team having a big fight over the cash they stole from the Armenian money train. When we pick up with them in season 4, the Strike Team has disbanded. Shane has transferred to another station and is working Vice with a new partner. Lem is working for the juvenile system. Vic and Ronnie are still at the Barn, but they’re basically on desk duty.

The Strike Team has been dismantled, separated, disbanded.

We see something similar on House:

At the end of season 3, House fired his diagnostic team. Now in season 4, his old team has scattered to different departments in the hospital and House spends the season putting together a new team.

The old one has been disbanded.

Marriages

In season 4 of Mad Men, we see a definite disbandment.

At the end of season 3, Don and his wife Betty called it quits. When we pick up with Don in season 4, he’s single, living in an apartment in the city, and basically dating every woman he’s ever met. Betty is pursuing a new husband in Henry, the man she met last year as her marriage was slowly falling apart.

For season 4, the Don/Betty marriage has completely disbanded.

We see an interesting example on Sons of Anarchy:

Most shows, will blow a relationship up at the end of season 3, and then move forward with a disbanded duo in season 4. Sons of Anarchy does it a little differently. They spend season 4 actively disbanding Clay and Gemma’s relationship. We get to see the “how” and “why” as their marriage slowly implodes over the season. It’s not a common way to pace this piece of story, but in S.O.A.’s case, it works pretty well.

So when dealing with this separation idea in season 4, make sure to pay attention to your disbandments. And if it helps, go ahead and express it through partnerships and marriages.



Season 3 (part 1) – Power

Season 3

Dramatic Structure:

There are 3 areas of concern:

Its:

Connection

theme is expressed through the idea of:

“Power”

It’s all about power.

This “power” theme has two common ways of being expressed:

  • Loss/Gain
  • Sexual Violence

Loss or Gain of Power

It’s exactly what it sounds like. Some element of your story, like a character or an organization, will either gain power they didn’t have before, or lose the power they already had.

Let’s look at some examples:

At the end of the second season of LOST, Desmond turned the key in the floor of the hatch station. When we pick up with him in season 3, he’s gained the superpower of having premonitions and mentally jumping around in his own timeline. That’s some power – gained.

In Mad Men season 3, we see Sterling Cooper bought by P.P.L. – Putnam, Powell, and Lowe. Our characters now have bosses. Bosses that now control the direction of their company. This is a clear case of power – lost.

Sexual Violence

In season 3, you’ll commonly see instances of sexual violence. Why? Because it’s not really about the sex. It’s all about power.

Let’s put our peepers on some examples:

In season 3 of Nip/Tuck the main bad-guy of the season is “The Carver.” He was first introduced at the end of season 2, but season 3 is all about him. He’s a serial rapist who likes to disfigure people’s faces. Yikes. He’s even attacked one of our main characters, Christian. The character of the Carver is this “sexual violence” idea made manifest. He’s all about rape and violence, specifically as a means of power.

In The Shield season 3, Aceveda gets raped at gunpoint. In that moment, he is powerless to stop it. We see another level of this power idea at play when Aceveda later uses his power as a police captain to completely destroy the life of his attacker. Power lost, and power leveraged.

While we’re talkin’ about The Shield, let’s dig a little deeper.

Season 3 also sees the inclusion of the serial “Cuddler” rapist character, William Faulks. He rapes victims, cuddles with them, and towards the end – starts murdering them. The interesting part about this instance of sexual violence, is that Dutch is convinced that the raping and the killing are all about exerting power. But once the Cuddler is caught, he explains that it was never about that. For him, it was about that unexplainable thing he feels when he watches his victims die. He asks Dutch to explain what that thing is to him. But Dutch can’t do it, he doesn’t understand it. Dutch’s big case culminates in him feeling completely powerless to explain the very thing he thinks himself an expert in – the inner workings of the criminal mind.

Everywhere you look it’s all about power.



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.