Some people have a favorite song, movie, book or T.V. show. I have a favorite trope. It happens in all kinds of mediums, including the ones I just listed. Before I give the big reveal, let’s talk about tropes.
A: a word or expression used in a figurative sense.
B: a common or overused theme or device; cliché
That last word—cliché—really needs to be unpacked. It’s a word that comes complete with its own eye roll. Because of the baggage, trope gets a bad rap. Writers conferences are full of sessions dedicated to telling writers how to avoid them—that the expected is boring. And I don’t disagree. Then again…
Expected can be safe and comforting. Put another way, the expected—when you build toward an anticipated conclusion—the payoff is gratifying. When a surprise comes instead, you may enjoy the exhilaration of a shock, but if you’re anything like me, you mourn the loss of the a-ha moment, the internal “I knew it”. It’s like when you watch a soccer (football) match and the players get closer and closer to the goal and then the ref calls offsides. Even if it’s not your team, you go through all the emotions.
I think I’ve dithered enough. The big reveal of my favorite trope is (hope it’s not an offsides moment)—will they/won’t they. The explanation is pretty much in the term, but I’ll explain. It’s the two characters who usually start out as friends and then slowly sexual tension builds. There are a lot of near kisses and close quarters moments, maybe a drunken admission. And I know what some of you will likely say—that it’s cheesy and predictable (and amounts to abstinence porn), but I have a real soft spot for it.
Yes, it’s overused, common and cliched, but in my opinion, it’s for a reason. There’s something Romantic (yes, capital R) about pining, longing and anticipating. All the more romantic (yes, this is lowercase r) when it finally happens. Not that it always works. I loved it in Pride & Prejudice but hated it in Emma. It worked beautifully in “Chuck” but was a mistake in “Stargate SG-1”. As you can see, it happens in all types of genres. It’s the common theme in the many genres I watch and read.
How about you? Is your guilty pleasure a trope?