December 5, 2008 Jill

I’ve been whining about having nothing to watch recently, but for the last couple of weeks I’ve been glued to my new favourite television drama: Canadian politics.  It’s had all the important elements: quirky flawed characters, passion, enormous stakes and a twisting, turning plot.  No wonder citizens are suddenly engaged.

I wish I had the time to systematically analyze the whole thing from a story perspective because I’m pretty sure I could learn a lot.  A few things have struck me:

This story means very different things to different people.  Audience/voter point of view brings a tremendous amount of meaning to the tale.  The fact that it can be read so many different ways is part of what makes the story so compelling.  If I was writing this, I would be tempted to shade it so that everyone saw the story from my P.O.V.  But in fact people care about this and find water cooler fodder in it precisely because they can interpret it their own way.

The inciting incident — Harper’s attempt to eliminate funding to the political parties — was a big move and definitely in character for him.  It threatened the well-being of the other parties and triggered a big, out-of-character and dangerous response.  We’re used to these men “staying on message” and not taking risks.  So when they did take a risk, it made you take notice.  And the fact that the action was riding on intense feeling made it riveting.

The emotion has worked on two levels — at least for me.  I am convinced that all the leaders believe in their own ideologies.  But there has been that second layer of emotion this week too.  It looks to me like Dion, Layton and Duceppe hate Harper and he hates them right back.

But alas, my new favourite TV show has taken a 6 week hiatus.  Whatever you think of it politically, in story terms you have to agree this is a drama-killer.  The energy and passion are going to disappate over the next month and a half.  Behind the scenes tinkering is inevitable, including recasting.  But putting a leading man-type in the starring roles might be good politics but it’ll suck dramatically.  The storyrooms/backrooms will be reconfigured and the new writers are going to drop the coalition like a hot potato — a kinky threesome is no place for a leading man.  And we’ll be right back to sleepy Canadian politics.

The optimistic among us may believe that that will be good for the economy, but I don’t really believe that there’s all that much that can be done to turn the tide at this point.  And what I really want is some more high drama to distract me from my bank statements.

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