The Television Medium

Have you ever watched something and asked yourself why didn’t they do or say this?

You assume that if it is not shown it didn’t happen and if it is not at least talked about it most definitely didn’t happen.

I have heard many times while reading comments on social media or talking with a friend that they wish a character would do something. But who says that they didn’t?

photo by: Paul Bulmer (cc)
photo by: Paul Bulmer (cc)

Just because something isn’t shown to you doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. It means that the writer chose to leave it out. Most TV shows only get 40 or so minutes to share many stories and plotlines. This is not that much time. There are going to be multiple things that happen in that characters day or week that are left out.

Think of it as a reality show. They tape the people and follow them around all day but only put together the best parts. Same goes for a regular drama. It is like you are following the characters around as they go about life. They are going to do things and say things that aren’t shown to you. Now whether you think they should be shown is all up to opinion and should be taken up with the writing staff.

photo by: robyn (cc)
photo by: robyn (cc)

One technique that I like that implies without showing is in an episode of Heartland (on CBC). A main character, Amy is having a problem with Lisa (her step-grandma) about her butting in on the wedding plans and talks about it with her fiancé, Ty. Ty, asks what the problem is and then it cuts to Amy and Lisa in her bedroom where she explains to Lisa that she always thought her mom would be there fore her wedding planning (Amy’s mom is dead). This was very well done. It shows that Amy is being open and confiding in Ty but for times sake tells the full reason of the problem with the actual person that it needs to be told to, Lisa.

Another example is Amy going to her mothers grave. This is only shown twice in the show once in season 1 and then in season 8. This doesn’t mean that she never visits her moms grave. It means that there was never a reason to show it for times sake, it wasn’t propelling a story. It is all about the stories for writers, as it should be with only 40 minutes. There is always an agenda. This doesn’t mean that it never happened. Unless a character says something like ” I have never visited my moms grave other than those two times” you can’t assume otherwise.

photo by: Moyan Brenn (cc)
photo by: Moyan Brenn (cc)

This is the magic of writing. There is so much room for freedom of imagination. This is where fanfic is born. It allows the reader or audience to imagine anything they want and it allows the characters to grow and have more room for different stories. There is no box. It can always be frustrating when something isn’t shown because you are so involved with the characters that you want to see everything or at least what you think is important. This new found liberation of the mind can be both and bad. Which makes it medium.



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