Lately, I’ve been watching a few shows and I haven’t missed much as far as originality. No, I’m not gonna tell you what show, because EVERY soap writer uses the same wheel-of-plot. So here are a few that I’ve come across. The bad acting, gratuitous parade of shirtless men, and pointless inner/outer monologue aside, these are the clichés that really get under my skin.
THE PATERNITY TEST SWITCH
I can’t even enter the waiting room of Sentara without getting patted down by security and butch nurses. How the hell do these women grab a white coat, sneak into the lab; know exactly where the files are hidden, and forge documentation/ blood samples? Are there NO cameras in the hospital? Is there no creepy custodian lurking around? At least do something creative, like bribe the lab tech guy.
THE BAD ONE-NIGHT STAND
You can see this train wreck coming a mile away. It starts out with someone drunk/upset and sleeps with a random guy then wakes up the next day, pretending that it didn’t happen. They also forget a little something call contraceptives, AIDS tests, and the morning-after pill. You’d expect teen girls to act this careless, but the women on these shows have degrees and run corporations. For any other person, a quick trip to the local CVS would be the first stop during the ‘walk of shame’ home. But that would interfere with the plot, which is … you guessed it, she gets pregnant and is not sure who the father is. This bombshell usually leads to the aforementioned paternity switch cliché.
There’s always an imposter/ long lost twin/ sci-fi worthy plastic surgery that makes a villain look exactly like one of the main characters. They have the same height, weight, body fat ratio, eye color, dental work, voice pitch, freckles and birthmarks. At least the movie Face-off tried to fix some of these inconsistencies. Anyway, this evil replica somehow kidnaps the main character, traps them in a dungeon, and passes themself off as that person. Where do they find these dungeons? What kind of friends/ family members can’t tell the difference? Why does it take six months to figure it out?
Everyone does a little dirt, some more than others, some worse than most. But there comes a time where you need to man-up and face the music. If you slept with someone’s husband—tell his wife (and your own husband) and deal with the fallout. But no, you drag it out for six months, chuck out money, lose sleep, create more lies, and then plot to kill your blackmailer. Honesty is the best policy and if you’re anything like me, it will be worth it when the person is put in jail for extortion.
These plots have been done to DEATH. If anything, these popcorn shows have taught me what Not to do in my own writing, yet keep the element of suspense. There are A lot more but these are the ones that stand out the most, and I thought this would be a good topic to discuss regarding bad writing. If you can name anymore, leave a comment.