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Opinion Spoilers Do you think TV and movies are getting unnecessarily complicated? (storywise) SOME SPOILERS

GreyHorace

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I've noticed in recent years in some entertainment media (particularly TV shows), are filled with complicated plots that oftentimes become confusing for viewers. At times some plots become so convoluted that they lead to conclusions that fail to satisfy viewers long time investment.

I heard 2004's Lost had a labyrinthian plot that ultimately led to an ending that recieved mixed reactions. Having only watched a one episode and never followed it, I can't really judge it. The 2003 Battlestar Galactica reboot however, I did follow for a bit but had to drop because it's story became so ridiculously confusing with plot threads that went nowhere, time skips, nonsensical reveals and characters becoming batshit insane. I skipped the rest of the seasons and went ahead to the ending, which I found to be a stupid deus ex machina. Another show I followed was Doctor Who, and that too had it's share of plot craziness, particularly during Steven Moffat's tenure as showrunner. His season long storylines promised big payoffs and the end but ultimately fell flat because I don't think he could arsed to write an ending that could satisfy people. I got tired of it and eventually dropped the show before watching his last season

I'm not saying complicated narratives don't have a place. They can be fun when executed well and have a decent payoff in the end. But whatever happened to telling straightforward stories that didn't rely on narrative tricks? Stories with simplified plot structures can make for compelling entertainment provided you give them interesting plot details and characters. In fact, let me give two recent examples that best illustrate these two storytelling styles:



When the first previews of Netflix's The Witcher hit, it raised some questions as to how the showrunners would go about telling Geralt of Rivia's story alongside Ciri and Yennefer's. As anyone who's read the books by Andzrej Sapkowski knows, the initial short stories focused mainly on Geralt and his adventures. Yennefer only comes into the picture later on, and Ciri makes an appearance in the final two short stories which paves the way for the novel saga. But the showrunners made it clear that Ciri and Yennefer would be main characters alongside Geralt in the series. How would they go about this?

What they did was... baffling to say the least. The showrunners made the bizarre decision of having three intertwining narratives for each of the main characters, all occurring at different time periods. At no point does the series make you aware of this, making for some confusing scenes where characters you saw die in a previous episode are suddenly miraculously alive in another. It makes for confused viewing because you're not sure which narrative is advancing the story. I was able to follow it fine only because I've read the books, but new viewers may not be so lucky in making sense of this zigzag of a plot. I do get what they were trying to do, as one of the main themes of the Witcher saga is destiny, and how it brings people together against their wishes. The scene of Geralt and Ciri finally finding each other at the end of season was supposed to be the culmination of all the events leading to that moment. Thing is though, it was much better handled in the book, where Geralt had given up all hope of finding Ciri after the fall of Cintra (which he was never present at btw) so it comes as a shock to him to find her alive.

I really wish the series had stuck to the episodic nature of The Witcher short stories. It would have allowed a new audience to ease themselves into the world and get a better sense of Geralt as a character. Speaking of which, my next example opts for a more linear type of storytelling:



Where The Witcher goes for a convoluted narrative, Disney's The Mandalorian opts for a simple one. Where the former is an epic story that follows multiple characters, the latter is a smaller tale that follows a single protagonist. There is nothing complicated about Mando, he's simply a galactic bounty hunter plying his trade in the Outer Rim. In the first episode however, a plot twist presents itself in the form of the Child (aka Baby Yoda), the bounty he was suppose to collect and bring back to his employer. After rescuing the Child and becoming a target of both the Bounty Hunter's Guild and Imperial Remnant as a result, Mando is now on the run with the Child in tow.

One would think that with such a simple premise it'd make for boring viewing. But it's not. For a space opera bridled with action and special effects, the characters are the real highlight. The relationship between Mando and the Child is endearing and is the core of what makes this show work. It reminds me a lot of the original Star Wars trilogy and how it's characters made the movies so memorable. And the episodic nature of the show makes it easy viewing despite an overarching storyline. I can't be thankful enough that we have TV show like this that tells it's story in a clear and linear fashion. And it's just ended with a satisfying conclusion that wrapped up all the plot threads and neatly sets up a next season.

And I haven't touched on what movies are guilty of complicated plotting, but I'll leave the examples for later. So what say you GAF? Do you think a lot of entertainment todays suffers from having convoluted stories? Let me know your thoughts on this.
 

Gargus

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Its probably so they can make things into seasons since everything on streaming now has to be a season. I've watched too many seasons of stuff on Netflix that really could have been a 2 or even 3 hour movie instead. Or one season of something would have been just fine but they extend it out.

Binge watching has become a thing now so everyone is trying to take their small idea and turn it into something bingeable. So they take small ideas and pad them out with cheap tactics and twists that are pointless, useless and confusing because they aren't well thought out or originally intended.

For the most part now if I see something interesting on prime or netflix and I click on it and find out it's a series I immediately hit the back button and keep looking. I'd rather watch movies. The boys is a rare example of something being a series and me really enjoying it, but then again the boys came from material intended to be a series and was planned out like one since it came from like a 60 issue comic series. It wasn't someone taking a little and trying to stretch it out after.
 

godhandiscen

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Movies are getting too long. 3 hours sitting at the theater for a stinker like the latest Star Wars is not bearable even when stoned out of my mind.
 

jason10mm

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You gotta acknowledge that the Mandalorian can only be as sparse as it is because it is exploiting dozens and dozens of hours of content already available. No need to explain the force, everyone already knows what it is.

The Witcher has to do the heavy lifting of world building as well as character development and plot. Always makes it harder.

Maybe some day audiences will tolerate an exposition heavy intro episode (much like what many books do with extensive data dumps) so the show itself wont have to explain everything and have that obligatory outside character who'd only role is to ask questions and be explained things.
 

#Phonepunk#

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feel like in general people are just getting bad at writing stories. like i feel like if any of these franchise directors had to sit down and write a complete original story that has a beginning, middle, and end, they would be unable to.

serialized entertainment does storytelling no favors by literally demanding that the story not be completed. they can't end because there needs to be some hook for the audience to keep watching. so many streaming series have come out that have very little to say but stretch it out over hours and hours, purely out of monetary necessity. why craft a 90 minute story and sell it once when you can stretch that out over multiple seasons and sell it year after year?

add to that the current pop postmodern theory that "everything has been done" and the only thing left to do is woke repackagings of old materials, it's no wonder. i have read in a number of interviews from "creatives" that "the era of telling stories is over" and "we've run out of stories to tell". when you embrace that kind of self-defeatism from the start, well, no duh.
 
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GreyHorace

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Its probably so they can make things into seasons since everything on streaming now has to be a season. I've watched too many seasons of stuff on Netflix that really could have been a 2 or even 3 hour movie instead. Or one season of something would have been just fine but they extend it out.
I agree on this. I mean, I liked Daredevil a lot but it could have done with some trimming during it's first season. You could have cut some scenes and still kept the core story intact.

You gotta acknowledge that the Mandalorian can only be as sparse as it is because it is exploiting dozens and dozens of hours of content already available. No need to explain the force, everyone already knows what it is.

The Witcher has to do the heavy lifting of world building as well as character development and plot. Always makes it harder.

Maybe some day audiences will tolerate an exposition heavy intro episode (much like what many books do with extensive data dumps) so the show itself wont have to explain everything and have that obligatory outside character who'd only role is to ask questions and be explained things.
The Witcher series didn't need the heavy lifting as you call it in terms of world building. They really should have followed the structure of the short stories and focused on Geralt first as it would have eased new time viewers into the world. Instead they went with an approach that ostensibly dumped a ton of background and lore on the audience and expect them to make sense of it. I could follow it just fine because I've read the stories, others are not so lucky.

And I don't think exposition is necessarily a bad thing. The original Star Wars had to explain a ton of lore to audiences but did it in a way that held your interest.

add to that the current pop postmodern theory that "everything has been done" and the only thing left to do is woke repackagings of old materials, it's no wonder. i have read in a number of interviews from "creatives" that "the era of telling stories is over" and "we've run out of stories to tell". when you embrace that kind of self-defeatism from the start, well, no duh.
I don't necessarily agree with that thought. I think there's still room for new types of stories to be told.

That said, I don't envy anyone the task of trying to come up with something original. But honestly? I think you can still tell formulaic stories and have them come out good. I think the MCU films are a prime example of this. It's all about the execution.
 

triplestation

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At least it makes it easy to tell who's a shit story teller

To a shit story teller, complicated means their story telling is "intricate" "sophisticated" and now they're "brilliant" ie. hideo kojima, Christopher Nolan

A great story teller knows that their shit is being watched by people and not computers, ie. Tarantino, Vince Gilligan/Peter Gould
 
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