On shows

As I watch more movies and tv shows, the more I appreciate shows like Game of Thrones.

During the Christmas festivities, I watched all the eight Harry Potter movies across two weeks. As I watched how the characters interacted with each other and how the plot moved, it could be split into the good guys versus the bad guys. But how often does that happen in real life? With clearly outlined bad people? Harry is the personification of good, while Voldemort is the opposite. In real life whoever, even in war situations, the “bad guys” do have reasons to be at war, motives that we can empathise. In contrast with Game of Thrones, with notable exceptions (e.g. White Walkers, Ramsay?),there wasn’t a particular main character that stroke me as evil, or the “baddy”. This illustrates as much more realistic view of reality, where people have less extreme motivations. Some were fuelled by power (Baelish), some were revenge (Aria), some honour (Ned). Things that we can actually empathise with. The opposite was true, it is difficult to find the bastion of goodness. Each character was flawed on their own way and just trying to see where they fit in the world.

This also leads to me question if Harry Potter is a “character driven” or “plot driven”. There’s some minor character development in Harry Potter (e.g. Malfoy), but it feels that Harry Potter (the movies) is mostly “plot driven”. Characters do something, effect, that leads to a result: the plot progresses. Game of Thrones however, although with a focus on moving the narrative forward, spends more time developing the characters (e.g. Jaime Lannister). You can see how their motives, believes and actions change as they interact with other entities in the world. I reckon that one of the reasons why the last seasons were so contested, is because the show shifted from character to plot driven. The audience was used to be guided through the character development. When character did X, you could say: “Oh I know why they did this, it was because this happened to them”. If there were no constrains, there would have been time developing the characters and then progress the story. Instead we are rushed into a premature end (e.g. Daenerys’s Season 8 whole arch). Why such rush, is a discussion for another time. The lack of book(s) to guide the screenwriters definitely played a role in the last two seasons.

It begs the question, in my mind, are these flawed, broken characters common in “character driven” media? Are we bound to see more contrast (good vs evil) characters in “plot driven”?