Only on TV (or Film): On-screen clichés


So you’re watching a scary movie, and

the expendable female character, who is probably blonde, is about to die.

You know this because of (a) the Psycho-esque shrieking music,

(b) the food, either in the microwave or stove, that is beginning to

burn, or (c) it is starting to rain outside, and said female is trying

to escape from her car but cannot hold onto her keys. The correct

answer? Any or all of the above.

Ah, movie and TV clichés. We all know the things that happen only in the movies or on TV. If you’ve ever lived in a large city, you know that the Sex and the City girls had to be wearing some sort of taxi-attracting pheromone. That is, unless they were in danger, or having a bad day, or needing rescue by a man, in which case no cab would be available. Then they would have to walk, most likely in the rain.

This month, and its readers

have been tracking

some favorite clichés. The lists made

me chuckle enough that I thought I should share.

Here are some of my favorites and my nominations.

Here’s one that’s bugged me

for a while: “In bedroom scenes, men have sheets that reach their

waist, but women have L-shaped sheets that come up to their chests.”

No kidding! This is especially true on American TV. Heaven

forbid we have a wardrobe malfunction and expose the country’s children

to the evils of the female body. (I know, some of this has to

do with actresses who won’t do nude or charge for it. But still.

Double standard.)

And another true observation:

“Women on TV almost always wake up with their hair and makeup perfect!”

No kidding. As someone who wakes up with gravity-defying hair,

it bugs me that after a night of passion, our heroine can wake up as

coiffed as if she’d just been to the salon.

Finally, “Women of

action can run, do karate, kickbox, climb ladders and perform highly

acrobatic movements while wearing six-inch heels and either a miniskirt

or a tight leather catsuit.” My favorite moment of TV self-awareness would have to be the X-Files episode “Hollywood AD,” where Scully

at one point dashes though the background showing Téa Leoni

how to run in heels.

And here’s a nomination from

me. If an animal appears, and especially if somebody loves it,

that animal will likely end up disemboweled, probably in a domestic

space that used to feel safe. I dread what’s to come when somebody

has a dog in a suspense or horror film. You just know Rover’s

going to get it first.

Another nomination: If there

are identical twins, at least one of them will be evil. Since

I started dating my girlfriend, who is a twin, I’ve really noticed this

one, everywhere from evil genius kids to comedic relief on Friends.

Finally, here’s a cliché that

I want to gay up a little: “You will survive any battle in any war

UNLESS you show someone a picture of your sweetheart back home.”

I’d change that to: If a lesbian character discusses a happy relationship

or is even shown to the audience in a loving moment, said girlfriend

will probably die in a horrible way. The moment Kerry started

dating a firefighter, I knew what was going to happen.

Your turn. What are some

of your favorite (or most despised) clichés?

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