THEM - A screenwriting lesson on undefined sci-fi elements and the overuse of racial tropes to invoke emotion without attaching them to meaningful storytelling.
I don't believe in rewriting produced work. That isn't critique. It's egotistical. I assume Little Marvin made the show he intended to make - give or take where he was outranked by executives. So, let's just work within the confines of what we were given and not what we would've done.
There are huge weaknesses in this story, which left me underwhelmed, emotionally manipulated, and quite frankly bored. Here's why:
-- Sci-Fi Elements: There must be rules. Why does Ms. Vera decide to jump out of Gracie's book NOW? What does she want? How is she connected to the priest? The entire priest storyline = REACH.
Then randomly, the wife gains superpowers and sets her own lawn on fire. What are the rules? They must be clear and consistent.
-- Conflict: The family is antagonized by white people and demons (or ghosts???) yet the stakes don't increase by canceling the threat.
-- Suspense: When every scene is filled with the same tension, then the story is monotonous, a straight line not a rollercoaster.
-- Tropes: It isn't enough to simply make Sambo appear and be deep and meaningful. There must be proof on the page that Sambo is necessary for Henry. We're shown in a flashback that Henry has PTSD and eventually learns that he feels guilty for leaving his wife and child at home, which is the beginning of his wife's hysteria. The question is how do his PTSD and guilt connect to him feeling like a Sambo for taking on a new job and moving to a new city but not to the neighborhood where his family lives? Before Sambo appears, he never shows any signs of feeling that he's performing for his white coworkers nor does his family ever make him feel guilty for his choices in his come up. So why does Sambo mean something to Henry before the writer forces it to?
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