What makes a good drama?

So I watch way too much tv. And I was watching Joan of Arcadia last night and realized one of the reasons that I liked the show; there were consequences. Unlike most sitcoms and many dramas, there isn’t a big reset button at the end of each episode where everybody ends up happy. People stay pissed at each other for multiple episodes; when Joan’s friend dissed her(*) in this episode, it was harsh. In fact, the whole show is about consequences; God asks Joan to do things, and never explains why, but the actions tend to have good ripple effects, reminding us that all actions have consequences that we may not even consider. It’s not a show that I really expected to like. I expected it to be something cloying like Touched by an Angel. But it’s turning out to be one of the more enjoyable shows of the season. The dialogue needs work, and I’m not sure how sustainable the whole chaos butterfly effect scenario is, but the acting is excellent (especially Amber Tamblyn as the oh-so-believable disenchanted teenager Joan) and I’m planning to continue watching.

(*) I’d been wondering why they’d had one of Joan’s friends, Adam, call her Jane all season long. It was kind of cute, just a weird idiosyncratic thing he did that kind of set the tone for his dreamy distracted character. And it paid off this week when she’s trying to apologize to him, and he listens and then says “Whatever, Joan” and walks off. Boo-yah. Utter harshness. The first time he uses her real name in the entire series and it’s to diss her. Which sets into relief his use of Jane before as an affectionate nickname. I really liked this detail. Obviously. Since I’m writing about it and all.

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