I like television. Perhaps a bit too much. Out of the 101 shows in today’s link, I have seen 53. And a little voice in the back of my mind was singling out a further 28 as I was counting that it’d really like to see, thankyouverymuch.
When he is at his best, it’s like looking into an alternate universe where things are as they should be, rather than how they are.
I’ve seen enough of his shows to be aware that he brings out a lot of the same hobby horses, again and again. But funnily enough, that’s exactly when he is the strongest. When his characters make the points he seems to most passionately believe in.
The voodoo is that he makes the arguments not by rubbing your nose in them, but by making them the backdrop to the inter-personal relationships and development of his characters. We all watch his shows for the characters, not because we care about the rules of the Filibuster.
There is a lesson in there about teaching and convincing and influencing.
First, know what your argument is.
Second, learn to structure it well.
Third, make it the backdrop to a story your audience wants to hear.
That’s the best possible version of the argument.
The West Wing is still the best drama ever written, and exactly because it manages to transform what should be the driest material imaginable into an inspiring vision of what-could-be through the magic of a cast of very relate-able characters. And then when the passions of the characters feed back into the central thesis of the show, it becomes almost impossible not to start caring about it yourself.
And the stories do not need to be particularly original. Girl meets boy, girl loses boy, girl gets boy is a great plot regardless of how many times it might have been attempted. We all know there are only 7 plots, or 20, or 9, depending on how you count.
In any case, there aren’t that many.
It’s what you do with them that counts.
And what better purpose than supporting a strong argument?