‘It takes a special talent to make your viewers empathize with something they know doesn’t exist.’
I said that to my friend late the other night and she suggested I expound on that here. We were talking specifically about Doctor Who, Sherlock, and Supernatural. Though really, this sentiment extends to anything in the genre realm – be it Game of Thrones, Guardians of the Galaxy or Agent Carter (Firefly, Star Wars, Fringe, X Files – the list goes on for years).
It really is a gift, to be able to take these characters and universes that are so far removed from our own and make us empathize and care for them as if they were real. And that’s the ultimate draw isn’t it? Sitcoms don’t address humanity in the way that genre television often does. The symbolism that attaches us to certain characters or stories just isn’t there.
Not only do these shows address humanity but they do so in universes that are far more interesting than our own. Doctor Who is set in a reality where aliens successfully take over the government, and where giant Titanic spaceship sails above our skies. The X Files is set in a universe where aliens exist under our very noses. The Originals, Buffy and Supernatural all have monsters living amongst us.
As a viewer we know aliens aren’t sneaking through our sewers, nor (generally speaking) do we believe our neighbor is possessed. But we still completely believe these worlds and buy into them.
I love it! I really love that some genius sits in a coffee-shop or in an office and comes up with these wonderful ideas. I love that someone else takes those ideas and creates set and light designs. I love that actors believe in these stories enough to tell them in complete honesty. I love that there are whole conventions devoted to bringing together people with similar interests, so they can enjoy these stories together.