D’you watch Dexter?
In case you’ve not seen this show, it is a series on Showtime and is about a serial killer. The killer is actually the protagonist. I came across it after it had been on the air for a few seasons, and watched the first coupla seasons on DVD.
Which was neat, because the DVDs had “bonus features” that included interviews of the people responsible for creating the series. One of the things that I thought was interesting was a writer trying to describe how they dealt with the idea of making a serial killer the protagonist – how do you get the audience to feel sympathy for someone like that?
“We thought of Richard III,” he explained. “If you ever read that story, Richard III is a terrible, horrible person. But Shakespeare has him address the audience directly, and explain what he is doing. What he is doing is still some terrible stuff, but now the audience has bought into it because – hey! – he asked us to come along for the ride.
“This is why we have so much voice-over in Dexter. We need to have the audience see things from Dexter’s point of view.”
I thought that was interesting, because usually voice-over is thought of as a story-telling crutch. Don’t tell me the story, show me. But the Dexter crew have inverted that, so that what used to be a sign of weak story-telling is now a conscious plot to – well, not humanify – the character, but at least make him relateable.