Nathan's Laserium: Friends

The metric that my wife Michelle uses to determine if she likes a tv show or such is whether they are our friends or not. We might be discussing an old fave episode of Battlestar Galactica and she'll sigh wistfully and say "I miss my friends."

Obviously neither of us believes Admiral Adama is our personal friend (though EJO follows me on twitter. He follows you too, don't worry). It's just an expression of the level of emotional investment we develop with fictional characters.

This is why she won't watch Breaking Bad or Better Call Saul, both of which I and everyone else revere as pretty much perfect. She can't see herself ever being friends with Walter White. Fair enough. That probably explains why perhaps the one thing I can never ever get into is Pride and Prejudice. That is not for me. Do I admire Jane Austen? Of course! But from a distance. On faith. A real life Mr Darcy (Mr D'Arcy? I am google-less at the moment) and me would not have very much to talk about. Here is how it would undoubtedly go.

Me: Thank you for stopping to pick me up. I've been out there so long I thought my thumb was gonna fall off.

Mr. Darcy: Sir, are you a ruffian? I do not normally countenance with hitch-hikers but the forthcoming storm seemed too oppressive, even for those such as yourself, born to low position and undoubtedly consigned to suffering.

Me: I . . . am not a ruffian. I just need a ride to work, since my car broke down.

Mr. Darcie: Indeed! And what does one such as yourself do for a living? I myself have an income of 200 pounds, a meagre remittance perhaps but it allows me some measure of leisure.

Me: Oh, you know, I'm a coal miner. Not underground, like with canaries and all that. Giant machines. You know?

Mr. D'Arcy: I do know. I believe my father owns several colliers, and of course he would never allow me to get my hands dirty working at one, though I dare say I think I would be very good at operating one of those steam shovel contraptions.

Me: Oh? What makes you say that?

Mr. Darcee: Polo, my good man. I am expert at polo.

Me: Look, a bear! Don't you love bears?

Mr. Darsy: Of course! I try to shoot one every year! They make excellent rugs.

No need to describe the ensuing carnage, right? Anyways. I forget what my point was, but I am pretty sure it wasn't to set up poor Mr Darcy as some insufferable straw man. For all I know he was a peasant in Pride and Prejudice. How could I know? I've never read the book or seen the movie. And it's not on my list to try.

I guess I'm wondering about creating characters. Writers need to create likable characters, to draw in the reader/viewer, but then make them compelling to keep interest, and also to create that sense of deepening relationship. Michelle and I both have dismissed many shows because the characters just weren't our friends. But then to take the example of Walter White or Jimmy McGill, characters I absolutely love spending time with, the point is not so much that I would want them as friends, but that I would care what happens to them.

Actually, I totally would want those guys as friends. And they would totally love me. As long as they love bears.

- Nathan Waddell