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Does Entertainment Need To Be "Realistic"?



hey guys sorry about not uploading earlier as you might have noticed I've changed locations my exams are finally finished so I've been spending the weekend traveling home and getting settled back in now I'm finally ready to get another video up for everyone so I've reviewed both thirteen reasons why and the end of the world as you'll know if you watched my videos I really enjoyed the end of the worlds dream like surrealism and did not like how many of the plot points throughout 13 reasons why we're deeply unrealistic to the point of being silly from an outside perspective this might seem a bit confusing how can you be cool with the lack of realism in one show and then condemn it in another isn't that hypocritical what's the difference between an entertaining over-the-top plot that's unrealistic in an enjoyable way and a show rife with plot points that are unrealistic in a bad way so I wanted to unpack that a little bit and lay down a couple of basic ground rules for what makes for good and for bad unrealism so first of all what is on realism I'm using it here to refer to any situation that could not or would not happen in real life this can be more fantastical elements like magic and superpowers as well as media that plays with physics like what we see in Looney Tunes but also more real-life situations that are simply over-the-top as we see in a lot of comedies of course these rules aren't going to be all-encompassing as there are always going to be exceptions with things like this but hopefully this will provide a general framework for explaining the difference between being unrealistic in a good way and in a bad way so no movie or television show is ever going to perfectly reflect real life and that's a good thing otherwise we would have a lot of TV shows about adults with completely average lives in which nothing too significant ever really happened the biggest upset of the season would be that Steve got promoted to assistant manager of Costco instead of George we wouldn't have movies with superheroes or aliens because those aren't realistic but we accept these premises when they're presented to us because we have to if we want to enjoy the movie I mean Luke Skywalker fighting a bunch of stormtroopers can be pretty awesome no one wants to be that person going and actually you can't make weapons at a flight it's impossible learn some real physics George Lucas put in all these cases there's a reason to have elements that don't reflect real life these reasons don't always have to be anything super deep or philosophical either they can simply be because it's cool or because it creates a distinctive style for instance the fight themes in the Kingsmen movies or anything that Quentin Tarantino puts out are very deliberately over-the-top this makes them visually distinctive when you go to see a Quentin Tarantino movie you're perfectly aware that you're going to get a gory bloodbath the lack of realism is part of the appeal so it doesn't have to be anything super deep but it also can be for example the film Edward Scissorhands uses a larger-than-life situation to give the audience commentary on suburbia and the way that it treats difference sure you could illustrate the same thing with a more low-key story about ordinary teenagers but the way that the movie sets up a stark contrast between the pastel cookie-cutter nature of the neighborhood and everything about Edward communicates it much more strongly the decision was clearly well thought out on the other hand what happens if you introduce in weird or unrealistic elements without giving those elements proper consideration you get something like Indiana Jones for putting in aliens at the end of an otherwise unrelated movie for no reason the reason that having aliens in Indiana Jones for Garner's criticism but no one gets mad at their being aliens and alien is because in the former there's no reason for them to be there essentially there is absolutely nothing wrong with having elements that don't reflect reality and oftentimes these elements can make a formerly mediocre piece of media ten times better by making it more distinctive more or more able to communicate themes above humanity by adding unrealistic elements to a story you can in fact highlight themes or aspects of real life to better illustrate your point but like all elements in film and TV these elements need to be well reasoned and well thought-out in order to work if your movie or show is trying to make specific commentary about a real-world issue not portraying that issue in a realistic way is likely to delay jitter mize the entire media you can still have cool over-the-top themes in your show but the heart of what it's trying to say should be grounded in reality if you want that message to land for example my favorite show of all time Avatar The Last Airbender is not realistic by any stretch of the mind it's literally about people who can shoot fire out of their hands but besides it being a fantastic deconstruction of the chosen one trope it's also about family and interpersonal relationships this is where the show knows when to be grounded we can cheer with these characters as they learn how to Earthbend or redirect lightning or defeat an enemy but were the most connected to them when the show connects with its central theme when it's trying to make commentary about family about love or about forgiveness it hits you hard the show finds its heart in moments like Zuko confronting his abusive father and finally announcing that he's not trying to win his approval or Zuko apologizing to his uncle expecting to be turned away in receiving unconditional love and forgiveness or Zuko finally defeating his sister in combat and instead of celebrating feeling pity or actually I might just really like Zuko but this isn't exclusive to any one character even though the situation's they're in our outlandish to us the bonds they make with each other are very real which means that when the show is trying to tell you something about family it feels plausible and earned and again the fantasy elements here don't conflict with the central theme rather they're a device through which we can explore these relationships in an engaging way for instance uncle Iroh teaching Zuko how to redirect lightning is not only important plot wise but also symbolizes Zuko learning to let go of his anger instead of using it to hurt others the unrealism here makes the show's themes of family and personal conflict much stronger or take Brooklyn nine-nine a fantastic comedy show created by Mike Shara about a group of police officers in Brooklyn many of the things on that show would never happen in a real police station for example every Halloween the characters have an annual game comprised of dramatic ridiculous stunts and over-the-top role-playing to be crowned an amazing detective-slash-genius of course this would never really happen but it's an comedy show the show central theme isn't actually about the police work it's about the characters and their relationship to one another plus some fun references to die hard so having these silly moments doesn't do jidam eyes or weaken anything that the show is trying to say the relationships have built so much that they even use one of these Halloween episodes as a way for one of the characters to at long last propose to the other sure if Brooklyn nine-nine was trying to give us a nuanced depiction of real police work this would weaken it but as it is this actually strengthens the show's central themes and on the rare occasions where Brooklyn nine-nine does make commentary about police work in this day and age with all the concerning elements of racism and gun violence it hits home and gets real in the episode mumu Brooklyn nine-nine tackles racial profiling and does it with surprising candor and realism there are no goofy stunts here instead we get a poignant conversation between characters Terry and Holt where they discuss how they've dealt with racism on the job in the past episodes where they're intentionally trying to target the realities of police work are far and few and on these occasions their job is dealt with with much more seriousness than usual in short the show doesn't let its goofy less realistic side hamper the point of the show instead it enhances it on the other hand when this doesn't happen you get something like 13 reasons why the core message of the show is about suicide and bullying so the fact that it doesn't portray either of those things realistically is a big problem when it gives you situations like a school-wide group text freaking out over a team panty shot or a group of dumb jock stereotypes losing their over some poetry that was published in the school newspaper the audience is going to get kind of incredulous the problem is this stuff isn't supplementary to the show's main theme it is the show's main theme thirteen reasons why exists to talk about bullying and suicide so it's especially noticeable when these things aren't portrayed in a way that resonates with people in short if your media is trying to say something pertinent about the real world and yet in its message it's so divorced from reality that we can't connect to it or learn anything from what it's trying to say it's probably not going to work putting characters and situations that we've never personally experienced like fighting aliens or suddenly gaining superpowers can be pretty great as long as those characters are still grounded in reality for example take the Incredibles they give us these really familiar archetypes representing a stereotypically traditional family these are characters that we know because we've seen them everywhere most of us growing up knew the shy teenage girl or the dad who was worried that he peaked long ago we might even be these characters we see them facing these big struggles like fighting supervillains but we also get to see them struggle with more personal things that we can relate to and in some ways these bigger less realistic challenges can not only serve for cool action flick material but also is an allegory for the more personal relatable problems maybe none of us have had to suppress our superpowers at school so that larger society will accept us but many of us have felt that way about other major parts of our identities so even if we can't relate to Helen Parr struggle with taking down an omni droid we can still understand and care about them in other ways because the characters themselves are grounded there are of course exceptions to this and we can oftentimes love characters because they're larger-than-life look at pretty much anyone Tim Curry plays but there still needs to be some human driving force behind them that all of us can connect with if you want to create a compelling story so what about when this principal isn't followed well you get something like the new Heather's adaptation in which every character is over the top with nothing to connect them back to reality they're delivering lines like you're such an ugly latte non-stop these lines were sparing and memorable in the original Heather's but here the lack of emotional connect ability to any of these characters makes it hard to care about anything that happens on that show I don't feel bad when red Heather is poisoned I don't feel bad when Veronica's reputation is threatened and I don't feel bad when yellow Heather gets caught hooking up with her teacher why would I this shows dedication to evoke an aesthetic unrealism at the cost of character growth means that I have no reason to care about them or say supernatural a show that doesn't just beat the dead horse it sends it to purgatory brings it back without a soul kills it again it makes it haunt the glue factory the show used to do a fairly good job of demonstrating the relationship between its two main characters brothers Sam and Dean it was about them traveling across the country and killing demons and monsters while dealing with their own interpersonal conflict and past fallings out the supernatural elements were fun in their own right and as a way to showcase their issues but as the show started to drag longer and longer and longer past it's expiration date they started to run out of material this means that they end up rehashing the same conflicts over and over again Sam lies to Dean Dean bottles up his emotions they go behind each other's backs for their own goods it's all stuff we've seen before their relationship has nowhere else to go similarly the unrealistic elements start to fail too they keep trying to up the stakes every season even when there's nowhere bigger to go from there meaning that every single villain starts being introduced like remember Satan here's Satan's twice as evil cousin Steve who's conveniently never been mentioned before the fighting demons side of the show is no longer even fun in its own right the unrealism is also no longer used as a way to explore the more tangible interpersonal side of the show instead it's become stale and worn out creating characters that are relatable and real is essential because that way even when they're having outlandish adventure that we as an audience might not be able to personally relate to we're still with them every step of the way we can even imagine ourselves in their place that's why sometimes a surrealist that it can make a show great and memorable whereas elsewhere it damages our enjoyment of the show every piece of media is going to have to introduce in unrealistic elements at some point or the other but much like you need to carefully consider plot characterization and everything else that goes into making something great these elements need to be well considered they need to be there for a reason and make the media better even if they don't directly supplement your work central theme they need to at a bare minimum not directly contradicted finally no matter how outlandish of a situation your characters are put in we need to be able to connect to the characters themselves or the whole thing will just fall flat if you're thinking of making your protagonist a dragon who lives in a cave and hoards gold go for it but make sure there's something human behind those scales

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Comments
  • i don't know what it is but there's something to be said about Lost and how much mysterious stuff was tolerable up to the spontaneous polar bear that not only crossed the line but rendered the line pointless

  • The main problem I have is that I always see the words "unrealistic" or "cheesy" or "bad" just thrown around willy-nilly without any further elaboration, to the point that those words lose meaning as I try to figure out what everyone else is seeing in my favorite shows that I'm not.

    My point being that if you're going to criticize a show, you should be able to explain what you have a problem with. Otherwise, you're just filling the air with noise.

  • Personally, if a TV show is aiming to inform, or bring light and teach people about a subject then it should do all it can to be realistic. However if your a movie or a TV show aiming to entertain and it's not all about that one subject then nah it doesn't need to be realistic.

  • Why did you not take any one of the numerous opportunities here to tell your audience to go watch the wire?
    Everyone should watch the wire. Even if you’ve seen it go watch it all again

  • Zuko nd iroh are the best.

    And supernatoral got better again when they brought jack, castiels adoptive super powerful angel son in the dynamic. Gave the show a new human element to focus on..

  • What happened to your Avatar videos? Like why The Legend of Korra is bad I haven't seen them yet and really wanted to see them just now only to find they're not here anymore 🙁

  • I would argue that aliens in Indiana Jones are to realistic, after all we have a franchises that have used religious magic and curses earlier and those are totally unrealistic, but aliens may exist and don't feel magical enough for the serie.

  • Okay, no, stop. There was absolutely a reason for aliens in Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. The Indiana Jones movies reflect the pop culture of the era they're set in, and Crystal Skull is set in an era where magic was falling out of favor and space fantasy was rising

  • I think that the Umbrella Academy was an amazing example of doing surrealism right, they managed to make an unrealistic situation feel very grounded with relatable and heartfelt characters and the relationships between them (minus Luther and Allison) were well thought out and developed

  • 2:22 shows 1 second of nazi symbolism
    YouTube:roses are red
    Violets are blue
    We know what we just saw
    We’re not paying you

  • "Maybe I just like Zuko…"

    I related hardcore to that. Zuko is hands down the best part of the show. He's just so hawbjahdhuja I love him. Ahhhhhhhh. loses capacity for coherent thoughts

  • A story should be realistic to a certain extent unless it's totally fictitious. Stories and media that portray real-life experiences and issues should try to be more realistic. Like 13 reasons why was notoriously poor in its depiction of mental illness and its unrealistically half-assed storylines and plot points.

  • I always feel like Hollywood and TV treats fantasy like Umbridge being forced to hug a centaur and realistic and sensible topics as an armored drunken elephant trying pointillism.

  • It all boils down to one principle: unrealism should reflect the creator's intent, not his/her failure to be realistic.

  • 0:38–0:45 this is my answer before I continue. Because 13 Reasons why is a realistic type show that wanted to be taken seriously and spread life lessons. (Well it tried to😒)
    THE END OF THE FUCKIN WORLD is just a fun story it's not suppose to be taken seriously with a realistic type of tone. (To some extent)
    A show needs to be realistic if you want the viewer to feel immersed and feel as they could be in that situation.
    If the story is not suppose to be for full immersion and you make it clear this can't happen in real life, then realisem can be thrown out the window.
    Now I'm actually gonna watch the video.😁
    Edit: I see what you mean in the video. And with the point I made it makes me think that no matter how realistic or unrealistic your story is, it must still stay in the boundaries of the world it has built.
    Yes THE END OF THE FUCKIN WORLD was a unrealistic zany show but it still had to stay in it's boundaries it put on itself. If on the finale episode had James wiped out 2 nine caliber rifles and gun down all the officers, the ending would be very tastless and head scratching. So when it comes to realism or non realism, you have to stay in the lines that you grew for your story. Stepping past those lines for no reason will just make the story feel stupid, poorly written, and tastless.

  • Can we talk about the subversion of the unrealistic devices to create exactly " boring stories" about really relatable, day-to-day human experiences just for showcasing fascination with the anodyne? And I don't mean documentaries or real stories that are shown on TV, but media that is explicitly made with the purpose of portraying ordinary lifestyles as fascinating, to bring out the fascination in it. Think Virginia Woolf works or the arthouse film "Jeanne Dileman". I really think those should be discussed too.

  • How does "unrealism" square with "magical realism"?

    The only example of "magical realism" I know of is Like Water for Chocolate. For those who don't know it, a warning before you do: It's STEAMY!

  • Literally no one other than Plato wants anything to be fucking realistic. Sorry to break it to you but if you want realistic media YOU'RE A FASCIST.

  • DAMN IT I HAVEN'T WATCHED ALL OF BROOKLYN NINE-NINE AND NOW I GOT SPOILED THAT JAKE AND AMY GET ENGAGED 😂:(

  • One problem/question I would have for you.. Relatable to whom? Doesn't this video kinda assume that there is one "uniform" standard of relatability?

  • George got robbed, the only reason Steve got promoted was because buys up all the old hot dogs before they throw them out.

  • I was hoping for an explanation on why traditionally cartoonish non-human characters have to look "realistic" rather than feel "realistic."

  • i know this show came out over 10 years ago, but as a person who is in the middle of watching it- can you warn us before discussing ATLA spoilers? xD i was hit with hardcore (i assume) series finale spoilers out of the blue and as far as i can tell there was no mention of such in the title or in the video.

  • I LOVE AVATAR THE LAST AIR BENDER! The Zuko/Azula Agni Kai is one of my favorite scenes of all time! I actually watch it over and over and show it to people who have never seen the show 🙂 My car is an electric blue volt… it's name is Azula. lol Are you excited about the Netflix adaptation??

  • DID YOU JUST USE THE “BONE” SCENE WHEN YOU REFERRED TO BROOKLYN NINE NINE SNDJJSJSBS

  • I wonder what your thoughts about Walking dead? I feel like this show, while being somewhat grounded in a way they portrait dealing with zombie apocalipse, with characters development (if these don't die… oops they dead) and plot not so much, it seems like showranners don't even change location so much, not to mention the dangers, that in zombie apocalipse is difficult in a creative matter, but is it have to?..

  • I'm not really sure this is about realism so much as it is about people wanting their entertainment to be logically consistent. People want solid characters and worlds that feel lived-in. A well-written scenario is an extension of that. Even if it's super outlandish, like in the Tarantino example, the characters all behave in the manner you expect them to given the situations they're in.

    "Realism" as it's commonly referred to is just people not having the right words to explain that they want creators to respect their worlds, their characters, and their stories.

  • Yeah, I'm surprise at how many people can say that The Simpsons has been on way too long, but still love Supernatural. Supernatural is the CW's version of Simpsons. It's been on way too long and are just running in circles now. Great video.

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