Sunday, August 18, 2019

Write On: The Incredible Storytelling of South Korean Reality TV (Video Essay)

I haven’t posted one of these in quite some time, but there’s a lot to unspool in this featured video. Today I have for you a recent post from Sage Hagen of Just Write with a topic I think even caught him off-guard: The Incredible Storytelling of South Korean Reality TV.

Okay, so the “unscripted” nature of a lot of reality TV quickly because a running gag during the genre’s hey-day, but stay with me. I’m not going to get into the muck about whether or not incidents are manufactured or played up for the camera, because that has never interested me. Instead, we’re looking at story structure.


There’s a lot of great stuff here. Let’s start with what I think might be the most underrated take-away: Establishing characters early and allowing your audience to get to know them beyond the main plot. This sounds simple, yet it’s thrown out the window all the time. Just think of how many action movies or thrillers you’ve seen that immediately begin with an extensive, intense chase scene, before you’ve even had a clue about who is chasing who or why or even which character you should be pulling for.

One technique I really enjoy – a true hallmark of caper stories – is the flashback to a different perspective. This allows the audience to see events again but not from the protagonist’s perspective. That different perspective, accompanied with the knowledge of what is going to happen, is a very satisfying way of explaining a twist.

Finally we have the flash-forward which is used to create a story gap. This technique draws the audience in by forcing them to ask a very specific question rather than simply “what happens next?” You’ve seen this done a million times, but when it’s done right (as it is in The Genius and Breaking Bad, though I tend to think of the mauled teddy bear in the swimming pool more than the iconic opening scene), it’s incredibly compelling.

Speaking of compelling: Yes, The Genius is that good. Check it out for yourself.

First Post: The Story So Far

Hallo. I’m Scot Nolan, though you might know me from reviewing and discussing bad movies over the past ten years as “Nolahn.” But this ...