P.28: Characters You Can Relate to, or Not

My friend and I were having a discussion about Transparent, Amazon’s widely-praised series playing on their Prime streaming service.

I think it deserves all the praise it gets, but I don’t like it quite as much as I’d like, because the characters are all a little too flawed.

Don’t get me wrong — I like flawed characters, protagonists included. But for me, it’s important that there’s at least one or two characters in any story who have some nuggets about them that make them likable, relatable or people who you could root for in some way — even with their flaws.

My friend disagreed, and had a good reason — there’s so little fiction out there that doesn’t ascribe to the conditions I set above. For her, that’s what made Transparent all the more refreshing. It was hard to argue with that, so I conceded the point.

What it all boils down to is different strokes for different folks. I still prefer my stories to have at least a few characters to like, relate to or root for, especially if they’re morally grey or worse, and so that’s what I write — but the more different kinds of fiction, filling more and more niches, the better.

2 thoughts on “P.28: Characters You Can Relate to, or Not

  1. I have to agree with your friend on this one, but I know what you mean. I love this show, mainly because it’s so different. I tuned in thinking it was going to be all about Jeffrey Tamboor’s character, but it’s just as much about the others in his family. You’re right, they are hard to like, but they also feel real to me, which is REALLY important to caring about a show and its characters. Some genres this wouldn’t work as well with … if you’re writing some kind of heroic fiction, you want heroic characters. But family drama? Families are about the most flawed things out there – perfect in their flaws.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey Nat – I agree.

      That said, I do think it’s possible to make highly flawed characters who you can like or root for, even on family dramas. On the TV front, think the grandmother on Gilmore Girls. She’s completely overbearing, judgmental, and controlling, but at her root usually has good intentions, or is able to later admit to herself (if not others) when she didn’t have good intentions – and act accordingly.

      Transparent obviously went in a different direction, and that’s okay. The great thing about the fact that there were more scripted TV shows in 2015 than any other year before is there’s more for everyone.


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