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Friday, January 21, 2011

Arcs (Or Getting From Here to There)

After six years of watching the T.V. show Bones, my husband turned to me and said, “I’m over it.” And it wasn’t just because there’s something better on at 9 p.m. on Thursday night. (Trust me, there’s not.) The reason: A main character just won’t change.

I used to love Bones. I promise it wasn’t just for the will-they-or-won’t-they tension between Booth, the buff FBI agent, and Brennan, the genius anthropologist. (Although, let’s be honest, that didn’t hurt.) No, the storyline was interesting. The cases were cool.

And then it got stale. The Man of all people started boycotting it, and that my friends is where this lesson begins.

Here’s a two-second catch-up for people who don’t watch the show:

 Dr. Temperance Brennan (code name: Bones) is a world-renown anthropologist who can’t relate to the living. Agent Sealy Booth works with her, solving crimes involving dead bodies. They love each other. They won’t get together. Sexual tension. Flirting. Gooey dead bodies.

That’s about it.

So, after six years you’d think Bones would have warmed up to the goofballs on her team or the totally normal best friend she somehow wrangled or the hunky FBI agent who loves her? You’d think she’d at least learn how to deal with people, right? Wrong.

After six years, she’s still the same Bones.* And that’s the problem. While every other character on the show has grown and changed over the years, Bones is still Bones. She’s still rude, only sees situations as either rational or irrational, is often narcissistic and selfish.

When I asked The Man why he was boycotting Bones he said it’s because after all this time, she never learns. And—and I quote—“I’m sick of her.”

That’s right, the guy who thought G.I. Joe was a decent movie is sick of Bones because she hasn’t grown enough. I agree. Her arc looks something like this:

We want our characters to change, become better people, or just become slightly better people. She doesn’t have to get a personality transplant (something I want to talk about soon), but she needs to grow in some way.

Or else your readers (or viewers) will start rooting for the bad guy or the other girl. Or they’ll just shut the book.

*I do realize that in last night's episode she acted like a normal human. Maybe one of the writers was looking over my shoulder as I wrote this. In which case: creepy. And also, please get Booth and Bones together. Kthanksbye.

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