Let's talk a bit about the tension of drama in series and books. I shamelessly named this the Drama Element Triangle, shortened to DET
In a previous blogpost about The Bridgerton, I mentioned the Drama Element Triangle, shortened to DET, that I had came up with. (And, yes, I’m shamelessly proud over it!)
To be honest, it came to be when I was talking to Viktor one late evening about The Bridgerton and tried to explain why it made such a good series. And then, I relaized that it could be applied to so many other series so it became a thing.
Here, I will elaborate it a bit more!
I love watching dramas, especially historical ones and I love to dive into the intrigues, plottlines and the personal development that comes with it.
Nothing causes my blood to boil more than a really good drama and nothing can make my cry so much.
Perhaps it is my larperself that loves to dive into the intrigues or perhaps I’m just a sucker for sitting on the sidelines and figuring out the plotts and cheering for my favorites. Add a bit of masochism in there for when I push myself to finish my 70+ episodes of Chinese dramas and you have me in a box.
So what makes a good drama for me?
Well, of course, the actors need to be good, the story is something that keeps me captured and also I need to feel that the character development are going somewhere. Last but not least, I need my dramas to have depth and surprises as well as being a joy to watch, aesthetics are so important!
But I also need my drama to have something more, a tension that creates a good balance and that put the characters' struggle and interactions on a structural level and not only an individual level.
So enter the Drama Element Triangle (DET). In short, it can be explained like this:
All good dramas in my world need to have a cirle around something... It can be a love story gone wrone, a mission impossible, a postapocalyptic work heading for doom, a family story with lots of intrigues...You name it.
We have astory but the drama usually create its structural tension by drawing from the following themes:
- Gender roles/Sexism
(In Fantasy setting, we also throw in the element of the battle between good and evil but when broken down,that battle usually can land in one of the tree above)
One of these elements in a drama is ok but I think that it usually becomes even better when we have two out of three from the DET to create a good drama. The more the merrier and the more heartpain I feel when watching.
This is not always the way of course, I have dramas that only pulls from one end on the DET and it works, mostly because of great actors and with pulling that element to a very extreme focus and also making it relatable to our present time.
So in short, take one or more of the DET and add that to a bigger theme (Religion, Environment crisis, rebellion, a love story or growing into adulthood etc) and the drama is there.
Ok, this is not rocket science so maybe I should not be that proud (I still am) but I’m having a blast in analysing my dramas and books with this one. It also helps me in choosing what dramas and books I want to read and watch. I have a very hard time with dramas that pull too hard from the racism element since it hurts a bit extra on me in the real world. Those dramas or books that have racism as one of it's main element really have to give me something extra if I want to sit and have my heart broken over that.
Cause the DET is of course pulling all the inspiration and angles from our real world and it all boils down is world building and how to make a series to keep people hooked on something.
I want my dramas with a bit of escapism but they also have to be relatable and with that, I need to look so they don’t become too close to home.
For some reason , I have a much easier time enjoying the element of sexism/gender roles in dramas than racism. But it also depends on how it is combined with the other elements.
For example, my Chinese historical harem dramas pulls very much from Gender Roles/sexism in combination with Class/Hierarchy. The racism element is there but in a very tiny amount. That combination makes it very fun to put the characters' individual struggles to the DET and try to see what are their own mistakes/successes and what comes from outer factors.
It is all about balance and what combination that fits one self.
But I love the DET cause it gives me a lot of inspiration to larp characters, roleplaying worlds and how to build my own stories. And I love to look for the DET a bit extra in my historical dramas since it helps me analys my own world a bit better and to see what I can change in the short term and on the long term.
And most of all, to find out what it was in a drama or a book that just left me unengaged with the story.
I’m just a nerd in this way :)