Sunday, March 10, 2013

What Bones taught me about storytelling

I don't normally watch crime shows. I love true crime shows, actually, but these one hour fictional crime dramas that are so popular right now really aren't my thing. But one that I haven't been able to get enough of lately (and really the only one I watch on a regular basis) is Bones.

In a lot of ways, Bones is just like any other crime drama, featuring a team working to solve murders, which are generally solved in the one hour time frame. This particular show follows the title character, Dr. Temperance "Bones" Brennan, a forensic scientist at the Jeffersonian in Washington D.C. (an obvious substitute for the Smithsonian.) Bones and other scientists at the Jeffersonian work with the FBI to solve murders where the bodies are too decomposed or mutilated for the police. It took me an embarrassingly long time to learn not to watch the show while eating.

Spaghetti...or intestines? (source)

And in a lot of ways, the romance subplots are typical too. I only had to watch one episode to realize that Bones would eventually end up with FBI Agent Seeley Booth. And since I didn't start watching until a few months ago, I learned pretty quickly that they had already moved in together and had a baby. But that's not stopping me from catching up, and it doesn't spoil their developing relationship in earlier episodes.

In the majority of books, movies, and other stories, the audience generally knows how the story will end. And if they don't, then they at least know which characters will be paired off and end up together. (Well, except for The Hunger Games, which threw me for a huge loop...but that's another story for another day.)

So why do we watch if we already know how something will end? Because it's about the journey, not the destination. Even though I knew Bones and Booth would end up together, I like seeing their relationship develop. Even if I'm watching it backwards.

Especially if I'm watching it backwards.

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