Michelle and Marissa

Michelle Slojinski is a substitute teacher at SSCHS.  Shy and insecure, she is a talented artist, but a history of being ostracized and mental health problems stand in the way of reaching her dream of being an art teacher.  She tries to move forward with her life, but sometimes, she finds that her past will slow her down unless she can deal with it.

Marissa Nogales is from The Eccentrics.  A non-conformist and artist, she believes in eschewing conformity in every aspect of her life, from bizarre pieces of art in all forms, to sense of fashion.  For her, the only rule that matters is “Do what YOU like.”

Luna, Lucas, Lena, and Liam

Luna Santiago is the main character of Luna.  She is a kind-hearted girl, who though spoiled, is almost always nice to others and never means any harm.  Though she is rather accident prone

Lucas Aguilar is one of Luna’s friends.  A talented soccer player, he is sarcastic and always tells it like it.

Lena Johnson is from SSCHS, and is the princpal of the school.  Her struggle is leading the school in a fair manner, while dealing with her personal life, and her family.

Liam O’Guinness is Todd’s younger.  Arrogant and self-absorbed, he often falls into conflict with Todd, due to seemingly always having people on his side, no matter what.

Edmund Sanders

This is one of the main characters of South Side of Suburban High School (SSCHS).

Edmund Sanders is a rookie math teacher.  Wide-eyed and engaging, but also clumsy and socially awkward, Edmund wants to be successful in all aspects of teaching, but will need lots of experience before he can perfect his craft.

Edmund strives for perfection, but rarely achieves it, due to his accident-prone nature.  His father raised him demanding perfection, but again, things rarely worked as planned.  He often injured himself and others as well as causing property damage, and one time during a science fair, his project causes an explosion that sent several people to the hospital; Edmund’s parents paid for the damages and medical expenses to prevent themselves from being sued.   Edmund tried to make his dad proud, but failing to do so has left them estranged.

In school, Edmund was the classic nerd.  He had a crush on Clarice, but as the most popular girl in school, she cruelly rejected him.  Years later as adults, they begin a romance.  Maturity seemed to change the both of them in some way.  Clarice was drawn to him because he was one of only a few people who decided to give her a chance despite her negative character traits.  Edmund found with age, that people are not all bad or all good.  That is the principle he lives buy: trying to find the best in every situation.

 

Clarice Mitchell

This is one of my favorite characters.

Clarice from South Side of Chicago High School (SSCHS) [I need to come up with a better title.] is rather complex.

She teaches psychology at the titular school.  A born leader, Clarice has lots of enemies due to her abrasiveness.  But of course she is not all bad.

Clarice, as I created her, is a high school mean girl all grown up.  She was the most popular girl in school.  She was the head of the cheerleading team.  When she returned to the school, she became the type of teacher that everyone hates.  She is truly the same person.  She makes the lives of her students miserable.  She schemes against colleagues.  She manipulates situations to her advantage.

Clarice, for the most part, does not like people.  She only expresses her contempt for her students.  Most colleagues keep their distance from her.

However, Clarice has her moments of altruism.  She is loyal to the few friends that she does have.  She also gives of herself.  Despite being mostly misanthropic, Clarice regularly donates a portion of her earnings to various mental health and LGBT charities.  She is against discrimination of any kind and does her part to make mental health care more accessible.

TV Tropes Tuesday: TV Tropes: Remember the New Guy

One of my favorite bloggers is Carrie-Anne Brownian.  I value her intelligence, creativity, and advice for writers.  She inspired me to blog about my own creative pursuits.  She made a post yesterday, where she reminded me of a an entry on TV Tropes known as Remember the New Guy. This trope involves a new character being introduced, and the characters act as though he or she have always been there even though they have never even been mentioned before. It can be a stretch to believe that a new character isn’t a new addition into the lives of the established characters.  I concur with Carrie-Anne’s advice, that if you want to introduce a new character, you should not have them already developed.  She points out that one should re-write the story to include the character, or write a passage explaining who the character is and what their background and relation to the established characters are.

Some examples of this trope include:

In That’s So Raven, the title character is harassed by a girl named Alana and her clique.  They had been enemies since fourth grade, ever since Raven got the part that Alana wanted in a school play.  However, Alana is never seen nor mentioned until season 2.  Some people could argue that it is possible that perhaps Alana was never mentioned because Raven and her friends don’t like to talk about her.  In schools, it could be more plausible to suddenly introduce new and fully developed characters, since they may not have the same classes together with the established characters, but if the characters are close friends on close enemies, if you like, it would be unlikely that they would never mention the new character at least once.

Another example from schools is Degrassi.  This trope is done right because two characters (Dave and Imogen) were introduced despite as having already been students, and nobody acted as though they had already been friends with them.  In fact, Imogen, in her first appeareance tells Eli that witnessed several of the events he went through during the previous season.

In my planned show SSCHS, I thought about using this trope, but making it plausible where a new teacher is introduced, but she’s not really new, and has been employed at the school for quite some time, and is known  in passing by the other characters, but because of scheduling, they rarely come into contact with each other; since they don’t know her very well, it would be implausible for her to never be mentioned.  Her role becomes much larger than before.

Another example, that did not seem to hurt the show is the character of Taylor Townsend of  The O.C.  She was first seen in season 3, and she was said to have history with the main characters.  She proved to be so popular among fans, that they suspended disbelief and overlooked the fact that it made no sense for her to  never at least be mentioned before.

TV Tropes Tuesday: TV Tropes: Designated Heroes and Designated Villains

Today is TV Tropes Tuesday, and I will talk about two of my favorite tropes, which are the Designated Hero and the Designated Villain.  

Most stories have a hero and villain.  However, we’ve all seen or read or heard stories where the heroes are not very heroic, and the villains are not very villainous.  The heroes are meant to be sympathetic, but come across as unsympathetic, and possibly even actual villains; on the other hand, the villains might come across as sympathetic, and maybe even heroic, especially if they never do anything that is truly wrong.

In my attempts at developing stories, I have had trouble with this issue.  I’ve wanted to depict my characters doing bad things, but then I’m told that they sound too unlikable.  It’s hard to strike a balance, but I’ve always wanted to depict bad people doing bad things; I tend to find unlikable characters to be the most interesting.

For example, with my character Luna, I’ve intended for her to be an anti-hero trying to get through life while living in a town where she is completely and utterly despised by almost everyone; to distinguish from the designated hero, my intention is that she is still the hero of her story has at least generally good intentions, although she does some morally questionable things, but I’ve realized that some of the things I’ve imagined her doing go too far and would likely make her unlikable and unsympathetic.

I’ve thought of several ways to fix that issue.

I could tone down her bad behavior and try to make her more funny and sympathetic, instead of just an insufferable brat.

I could also depict her as receiving disproportionately unfair punishments; to expand on that I have created story lines where Luna received unfair punishments for lots of things.  For example, her story begins after she has spent the summer in Juvie after the cheer leading squad jumped her.  Even though, she was defending herself, she was charged and sentenced.  I also have Luna regularly being a victim of bullying and harassment, and the school staff does nothing about it, as they hate her.  Yet another story line focuses on Luna getting her first car, and then is arrested for driving ONE mile over the speed limit. Luna is selfish and spoiled, and she doesn’t always do right by her family and friends, but that does not justify being treated unfairly by the justice system or being ignored by her school when she is bullied and harassed.

This is my attempt to avoid making Luna into a designated hero.

Interestingly, I have also considered doing other things, like making Luna so unsympathetic, that the audience is rooting against her and is happy when she is justly punished at the end; this would make her a Villain Protagonist.

I’ve also imagined Luna being unfairly treated by someone, and her antagonist is portrayed as being in the right.  This is interesting because in a way Luna is a Villain Protagonist, and her opponent is a Hero Antagonist; however, the way in which I imagined would make them Designated Villain Protagonist and Designated Hero Antagonist  One story line involves Luna being reunited with someone whom she accidentally outed as gay to the entire school, leading to them dropping out to avoid being bullied.  This person decides to get revenge against Luna by framing her for saying derogatory things about the LGBT community.  When Luna proves her innocence, the person is called out harshly for their actions, but then Luna loses her support, when the others out what she did to the person. The message is that if someone outs you, you have the right to do whatever you want to destroy their life.  Not a good message.  An audience might not like that story, so I will try to make Luna more sympathetic, rather than expecting the audience to root against her.

Moving on, my show about teachers, I have imagined several major story lines where they do lots of bad things, like sabotaging each other, the principal public shaming her bad-behaving daughter, a teacher accidentally injuring a student and covering it up, two teachers destroying each others’ house, and all sorts of things.  Now, I’ve tried to make things not so harsh, and to include humor, but many of the characters could be regarded as designated heroes, and I’ve gotta do work to make them more sympathetic.  I’ve at least made a mean character nice to certain people and supportive of mental health issues and the LGBT community.

The next paragraph has spoilers.

To end this blog post, I will talk about an example of a designated hero that I have seen.  I enjoyed the Hulu original series East Los High, a teen drama which focuses on the students of a high school in the predominantly Mexican-American neighborhood of East Los Angeles.  One of the characters, Jessie, is dating a jock named Jacob.  When Jacob becomes close to Jessie’s cousin, Maya, Jessie becomes jealous and sleeps with her dance teacher (who seems to be about the same age as her), Cristian after spending lots of time alone with him.  Jessie shortly afterwards has sex with Jacob to avoid losing him to Maya.  Jessie had unprotected sex with Cristian (he failed at using the withdrawal method, which anyone who took comprehensive sex ed should and would know is an unreliable birth control method, and that many boys and men often can’t and don’t know exactly when they will reach orgasm and ejaculate, and may not withdraw in time, but I digress.), but Jacob used a condom when she had sex with him.  Jessie finds out that she is pregnant, and tells Jacob that he is the father, when Christian is actually the father.  This leads to Jacob foregoing a scholarship to play football for a college in Indiana, and at her mother’s insistence, he asks Jessie to marry him.  Leading up to the wedding, Jessie never expresses any guilt over lying to Jacob and causing him to give up his future to be a young father and husband.  Eventually as they are about to exchange vows, Jessie feels guilty, refuses to go through with the wedding, and pulls Jacob aside to tell him the truth.

What I noticed on the comments of the episodes is an expression of contempt for Jessie for her dishonesty, infidelity, and for causing Jacob to give up his future.  Yet, through it all, she does not express guilt until the last minute, and the show depicts her sympathetically.  While I personally don’t hate Jessie as a character, I can understand all the negative comments about her.  Perhaps, the show’s writers should have and could have depicted Jessie struggles with her guilt; it would have made her more sympathetic.