Dienstag, 26. Mai 2015

Genre confusion: Melodrama

Talking about TV series before on here, I thought that it might make sense to define the genres now. I think many people have an idea what the actual genre might mean so I'll just keep it simple and short on here talking about what specifies a genre - and what's it actually should cause a viewer.

The first post is about Melodrama. The word drama is used for every kind of TV series in Asia so usually what we would call drama in Germany has to be defined as melodrama when it comes to Asian countries.

A melodrama is a work in which the plot, which strongly appeals to emotions, takes precedence over detailed characterization. Usually that means that the characters are simple and seem stereotyped. But since this genre existed for such a long time, many different styles exist as well.
Interesting to know is that the term actually comes from the Greek word melos, which means music, and the Late Latin word drama. So directly translated, it'd be a 'musical drama'.

When it comes to film or TV productions, usually melodrama is used as a subgenre of dramas in general, characterised by a plot that appeals to the heightened emotions of the audience. They generally depend on stereotyped character development, interaction, and highly emotional themes. Melodramatic films tend to use plots that often deal with crises of human emotion, failed romance or friendship, strained familial situations, tragedy, illness, neuroses, or emotional and physical hardship.

Familiar with this one? Well, a typical melodrama that'd come to my mind now is That Winter, The Wind Blows. We have a male character who has financial problems. And in the female leads' family, everything is a mess - her brother and parents died and there's her father's former assistant taking care of her but seems to play a weird game. Oh, and we do have an illness, that's why the woman is blind. And since the two main characters get involved, there's a rather difficult situation again.
Victims, couples, virtuous and heroic characters or suffering protagonists (usually heroines) in melodramas are presented with tremendous social pressures, threats, repression, fears, improbable events or difficulties with friends, community, work, lovers, or family. Seems familar once again?

Film critics sometimes use the term  to connote an unrealistic, campy tale of romance or domestic situations with stereotypical characters that would directly appeal to feminine audiences.

Directly thinking about this, many Asian dramas contain certain elements of this genre. Thinking about Line Walker we find the illness again, as well as the crisis of the main characters. I'd also say that especially the family issues, diseases and personal crisis are tropes we find over and over again in the series that are aired in Asian countries.
However, to me it seems rare to find a tv series that only contains melodrama influence since it's usually strongly connected to Romance, sometimes paired up with some dark humor.

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