Monday, May 31, 2010

"What Happened, Heroes?" by Nathan Barnett

What happened to Heroes? The show took off, grabbing thousands of viewers with its captivating first season. After the infamous Writer's Strike crippled the second season, fans expected another captivating storyline to fully develop in the third season. However, many fans like myself were very disappointed. Instead of receiving a new, creative, and well thought out plot, fans were given a disjointed universe where elements just didn't quite add up and attempts at character development resulted in unstable characters whose rationality was lost in the writer's desire to create drama. This faulty plot development remained throughout the third and fourth seasons, not surprisingly ending in the cancellation of the series earlier this month. However, the biggest factor resulting in the downfall of Heroes was the show's inability to understand its audience.

Heroes had a fan following primarily consisting of the audience of any SciFi show: nerds. Heroes' first season had all of the elements loved by this audience. It presented a fantastical world, full of people with abilities who had to deal with the wrath of a world who saw them as "different". This classic SciFi storyline was revamped in the series, similar to that of the show Lost. However, the show neglected its fan base by allowing the third and fourth seasons to prioritize drama over plot fluidity. When your fan base is equivalent to, for example, that of a soap opera, the audience can accept complete changes of character (sometimes even replacing a character with a whole new actor). In a show where the audience is nerds, however, there exists a group that deeply analyzes the plot of the show. Nerds love to discuss their favorite shows, by means of blogs, facebook, etc. When a show fails to create solid fluidity throughout its plot, the nerds refuse to accept it as they are offended that the writers do not have as much of a complex idea of the show as the audience member does.

To give a good example of the failure of fluidity, lets analyze the character Sylar. Sylar rose to fame quickly as one of the most terrible villains of all time. His pure evil nature drew in a lot of viewership. This character was maintained during the first two seasons, however, in the third season, the writers tried to show Sylar's attempts to be good, and make it seem that life circumstances had turned him evil. This might have been interesting if the writers had not chosen to make Sylar revert back to evil after a very random event halfway through the third season, making Sylar an evil character again throughout the rest of the season. The writers really failed, however, when they tried to make Sylar good again during the fourth season, where they portrayed Sylar as a man looking for meaning in life. The writers were trying so hard to create drama and flesh out the character of Sylar that they neglected to recognize simple emotion, and also the whole reason people liked Sylar: he was pure evil. By over analyzing the character, the writers ruined character fluidity for Sylar, therefore making him into an awkward and terribly confusing character, and not in the interesting way.

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