Thursday, October 15, 2009


I can't think of a stronger recent example of narrative than the hit FX series, "Damages." It exists almost solely as a showcase for Glenn Close, but certainly has other artistic merits as well.

The structure certainly has a strong narrative--in early episodes, we see glimpses of a climactic moment. As the season progresses, and as we learn more context and are exposed to additional twists, we gradually see more and more moments of the all important scene, with the ultimate (and shocking) reveal in the season finale.

"Damages" utilizes dramatic irony, the technique of allowing the audience to know key elements before the characters, but does so with a twist. We're set up to think that we know more, but frequently don't. Certainly, mode of address plays into this, as there are frequently scenes that feature audio but no accompanying video--our imaginations run wild, and the blanks are later filled in to shocking effect.

This show is violent, and certainly utilizes the action code, but again, does so with a twist. Without giving away too many specifics, one example would be a scene featuring a battle where a character is presumed dead (by both the assailant and the audience), followed by the victim's revenge in a later scene or episode, much to the surprise of both parties.

Traditional forms of storytelling are largely thrown out the window here, as we're supposed to consider the protagonist our "sympathetic character." This is thanks to unfortunate circumstance, coupled with us seeing every side of her story, rather than just highlights of the supporting characters. Yet, we do sympathize with her antagonists at times, largely because of their motivations actually being rational.

Flashback is also critical in this method of storytelling. "Damages'" timeline is always shifting, which also makes it a series worth watching in its entirety, rather than catching in bits and pieces.

No comments:

Post a Comment