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E - Everyone

Reaching Wide Audiences in Serialized Television Shows

by WritingWolf


It is growing increasingly harder for families to find entertainment to enjoy together. Children’s programs are often overly simplified and boring for older audiences, while adult programs frequently contain material that may not be appropriate for all ages. It has become normal to divide media into those two categories. However, there are specific cases where that boundary is broken. Nickelodeon’s Avatar: The Last Airbender (Avatar) and Netflix’s Trollhunters: Tales of Arcadia (Trollhunters) are two examples of this. While both were originally created for young viewers they came to appeal to a much wider audience. When inspecting the two for similarity it becomes apparent that having a strong cast is one of the most important aspects of building a connection with viewers. Many critics focus on plot development and animation quality however through these examples we can see that those are clearly not the only important factors. The well matched and relatable characters found in both series lead to them reaching a much wider age demographic than would have otherwise been expected.

The similarity in the roles that the main casts play in Avatar and Trollhunters is one of the first things to stand out. The casts can quickly be summarized in broad strokes as each containing a hero, a comic-relief character, a future love interest, and several teachers and guides. The way each appears within its world is unique and interesting, while maintaining the standard dynamic which allows a new viewer to quickly grasp the social setting. Considering the role of each character carefully is important in all forms of storytelling. Terry Brooks (2003), a well-known fantasy author, makes a point of its importance in his extrapolations on the writing process (Brooks, 2003, p.129). In Avatar we see the hero represented by Aang, the hilarious companion is Sokka, Katara will eventually fall for Aang, and Toph and Zuko teach Aang the different magic disciplines within their world. In Trollhunters we see a boy named Jim as the protagonist, his best friend Toby creates plenty of side comedy, Claire joins the team when she insists on stepping out of the role of crush and becomes Jim’s friend, Blinky and Aaaarrrgh guide Jim in his new responsibilities, and NotEnrique joins the team in search of a family and acceptance. Each character’s screen time is thought out to bring a unique flavor to the standard role and a spark of life to the overall series.

In both Avatar and Trollhunters each character is given time to grow and mature. This creates strong relatable characters, which contributes to the connection with the audience. The attention to each character’s unique struggles provides every viewer someone that they can bond with. You can see this exemplified in Aang and Jim, the protagonists, as they struggle with their newfound responsibility and how to protect their loved ones. The type of struggle that would not be uncommon of a young adult. Viewers also witness Sokka, Katara, and Toby handle the grief of losing their parents. A struggle that can be found in any age group, but is more prevalent among older viewers. Toph and Claire both struggle with strained relationships with their parents, as do many adolescents and young adults in our culture. Zuko and NotEnrique are tasked with finding their own path, determining what is important to them, and figuring out their own values and morals. Which is a journey that all of the adult viewers have gone through to varying degrees. In every instance the characters reach out to someone beyond that of the young audience which they were originally crafted for.

An important difference to notice between the two is that the way the plot develops and overall pacing of the story is completely different. Avatar follows the traditional three act format. The first season contains the set-up of the world and characters. The second season is where the tension escalades and the plot is developed more. Then the last season creates a fulfilling resolution to the conflict. Trollhunters, on the other hand, has taken a rather less common format with four acts. It is a bit hard to see at first due to the fact that Netflix decided to publish the first two acts together as one season. However, if you look closely you can see the slight shift in focus that divides it into four equal parts. The first act is predominantly occupied with setting up the world and situations that our cast is in. The second act focuses on character development. The third act is where the true conflict begins to rise in earnest. Then the fourth serves as a conclusion to a story that the viewers will have had ample time to have grown connected to. The differences in plot structures only further cement that it is not the aspect of the story which created such and enjoyable experience for viewers.

Once one has experience watching Avatar and Trollhunters it is easy to see the similarities between the way that they laid out their casts, the emotional journeys of the characters, and the way that those things relate to our everyday lives. When compared to that the way that the plot was structured and paced appears to have very little to do with the overall enjoyment of each show. These two shows actively portray the fact that it is possible to create entertainment that is easily understood by young audiences while still providing an enjoyable and enriching experience for older viewers.     


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Sat Feb 17, 2018 3:43 pm
Megrim says...



Hello, I didn't forget about you! I've been staring at this all week, and I think it's just plain been too long since I had to do a school essay. I have no idea what to suggest :S Fortunately, it looks like you got some good advice from others! Sorry I couldn't help more D:




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Wed Feb 14, 2018 6:30 pm
PrincessInk wrote a review...



Hi WritingWolf! Here for the requested review. So, like you asked for, I'll put some focus on the grammar and nitpicky bits. Any suggestions I make might not work, so take them with a grain of salt!

Nitpicks:

Many critics focus on plot development and animation quality 1. however through these examples2 we can see that those are clearly not the only important factors.


1. Run-on, so a semicolon between quality and however
2. Commas around "through these examples.

In Avatar we see the hero represented by Aang, the hilarious companion is Sokka, Katara will eventually fall for Aang, and Toph and Zuko teach Aang the different magic disciplines within their world. In Trollhunters we see a boy named Jim as the protagonist, his best friend Toby creates plenty of side comedy, Claire joins the team when she insists on stepping out of the role of crush and becomes Jim’s friend, Blinky and Aaaarrrgh guide Jim in his new responsibilities, and NotEnrique joins the team in search of a family and acceptance.



These two sentences feel reeeaaally awkward. The parallelism kind of fails here, because(in the first sentence) after the "by Aang", there's a new simple sentence. Maybe it's better if you stuck to one style:

the hero represented by Aang, the hilarious companion by Sokka, the love interest by Katara, and the wise mentors by Toph and Zuko.


Or just using simple sentences for them (and maybe varying the words describing the characters). Bunching them together in one long sentence gives a rather unwieldy result, so maybe you could split them.

Two fragments (unless they're intentional):

The type of struggle that would not be uncommon of a young adult.


Maybe "This type of struggle is common for young adults" or something like that?

A struggle that can be found in any age group, but is more prevalent among older viewers.


Maybe "Many, especially older viewers, can relate to this struggle".

And "escalate" for "escalade" (but I could be wrong if the latter's the standard spelling for "escalate" in your country)

Finally:

Once one has experience watching Avatar and Trollhunters it is easy to see the similarities between the way that they laid out their casts, the emotional journeys of the characters, and the way that those things relate to our everyday lives.


Parallelism again! I'd suggest evening it out by either removing "the way that" or including it in everything (such as "the way they laid out their casts, the way the characters traveled on their emotional journeys, and the way they relate to our everyday lives")

Wordcount and More Nitpicky Stuff:

To reduce wordcount, I recommend Megrim's article Verbs Are The New Adjectives as a starting point. This article shows how to replace weak descriptive+verb combos with a strong verb, and also when you need your adjectives and adverbs. I hope this article will be useful.

I noticed that some places get wordy, so summing them up more succinctly could lower wordcount. In the first paragraph:

while adult programs frequently contain material that may not be appropriate for all ages.


I think "contain material that is inappropriate for children" knocks out a couple of words. Maybe it could be shortened further be removing "that is" but I'm not sure.

In the end:

These two shows actively portray the fact that it is possible to create entertainment that is easily understood by young audiences while still providing an enjoyable and enriching experience for older viewers.


This is a big chunk of a sentence and I suggest explaining more simply. Maybe like:

These two shows portray great examples of television entertainment that can engage both younger and older audiences.


I don't think I can go and pick out every example, but what I'd suggest is to hunt around for some passive sentences (like the ones "by somebody or something") and see if it makes sense for you to turn it around into active. Another tactic is to replace double negatives with positives, like "not uncommon" becoming "common". Also, the thesaurus helps!

Structure:

I imagine that your thesis statement is that the characters that make the TV shows so appealing. Your introduction is a bit muddling because you introduce the thesis right in the middle but then add something about the critics and demographic? Maybe reordering the last few sentences to put the thesis in the end of the introduction would help? Such as the critics' sentence, then the demographic, and finally the thesis?

You could try considering the body of the essay, the rest of the paragraphs, as their own mini-arguments, perhaps. In the second paragraph, so I imagine you're arguing about each role of the character, while keeping good dynamics and bringing "unique flavors"? Maybe I'd like to see a stronger link to the thesis. In the next two paragraphs, too. I want to be persuaded that appealing and interesting characters are really important (I've been believing that for a long time, but I want my belief to be strengthened).

So structurally, my biggest critique is that I want to see a stronger link to the thesis, so that with each paragraph I'm nodding more in agreement. I don't have lots of experience in argumentative essays, though, so I'm not too sure. Another thing hampering the thesis is the wordiness, which I've already tackled above. I believe a clean and concise argumentative essay gets to the point much better than a wordier one.

Hope this rambly critique helps!

-Ink




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Tue Feb 13, 2018 7:14 pm
BlueAfrica wrote a review...



Hi there!

I love reviewing essays

Introduction

You started off pretty well. I immediately got a sense of what the essay was going to be about from you description of how and why it's so difficult for adults and children to find common entertainment to enjoy. However, after you mentioned your two example series (AtLA and Trollhunters), the introduction strayed into body territory - you started explaining why these are examples of shows that appeal to younger and older viewers, but I'm guessing that's the sort of thing you want to do in the body of your essay to help readers understand how to write a televised series that appeals to a wide range of ages.

When inspecting the two for similarity it becomes apparent that having a strong cast is one of the most important aspects of building a connection with viewers. Many critics focus on plot development and animation quality however through these examples we can see that those are clearly not the only important factors. The well matched and relatable characters found in both series lead to them reaching a much wider age demographic than would have otherwise been expected.


Additionally, I'm missing any sort of thesis statement that would solidify for me what the essay will be about. I know it will involve TV series and what they can do to reach a wider range of audiences (in terms of age), but I don't know what your point is going to be. Do you intend to help writers of TV series figure out how to do this? Do you intend to explain why it's desirable? I'm not sure what the purpose of this paper is, even though I get a general sense of what it's about.

Body

So the body lacks some focus, which I think is partly because of the lack of thesis statement to guide the rest of the essay but is also because of a lack of structure. It seems like your intent was to compare one aspect of the chosen two shows in each paragraph, but the comparisons get a little lost because of the sheer amount of information in each paragraph. Additionally, you start each paragraph speaking in general terms, like this.

The similarity in the roles that the main casts play in Avatar and Trollhunters is one of the first things to stand out. The casts can quickly be summarized in broad strokes as each containing a hero, a comic-relief character, a future love interest, and several teachers and guides. The way each appears within its world is unique and interesting, while maintaining the standard dynamic which allows a new viewer to quickly grasp the social setting. Considering the role of each character carefully is important in all forms of storytelling. Terry Brooks (2003), a well-known fantasy author, makes a point of its importance in his extrapolations on the writing process (Brooks, 2003, p.129).


The message would benefit from more specificity. Rather than spending sentences talking in general terms, you can use just one sentence, a sort of topic sentence, to dive into the topic of the paragraph - i.e. "both shows share a similar cast, with a hero, comic relief, future love interest, and multiple mentors or teachers" - and spend the rest of the paragraph exploring that topic by using specific examples and details from the two shows. You do eventually get into this in each paragraph, but it takes longer than it should.

You could also improve focus by honing in on which examples you want to include. Right now you try to use examples involving every character in the main cast of both shows, which gives the paragraphs a scattered feeling. Since Aang (I haven't seen Trollhunters, so I'll focus on AtLA) grows and matures throughout the series and experiences both childish moments and adult responsibilities, it would be more effective to focus on his struggles throughout the series when explaining why AtLA appeals to so wide a range of ages, rather than trying to explain how every single character makes it this way.

Finally, it might be effective to use a show that doesn't appeal to a wide range of ages as a contrast to prove your point. If you decide to go this route, you don't have to give this show much attention or even mention it in the introduction - you could just drop a line about it in each body paragraph, after explaining each point. Like "contrast this to the way that [name of show] fails to appeal to adults because all of the characters' problems are [something to do with being a child]." Something simple like that would go a long way toward illustrating your point.

Conclusion

The conclusion is probably the strongest part of this essay in that it really feels like a conclusion. While the introduction started to get muddled at the end and felt more like the body and the body itself felt unfocused, the conclusion feels like a conclusion. It ties together the essay without being merely a summary of what you've already said.

However, I'm still not clear on what your intention was with this essay. You do a decent job comparing your two chosen shows and using them to illustrate a point, but what did you hope to accomplish by illustrating this point? The final line of the conclusion makes it sound as if your point was to prove that it's not difficult to create common entertainment for adults and younger viewers, but if that's the case you need to a) make this point more strongly in your introduction and b) tie it into the body paragraphs by using your examples as an illustration of how to write a show that will appeal to a wider range of ages.




WritingWolf says...


Thank you so much for this review! This is extremely helpful.



BlueAfrica says...


You're welcome!




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