I've just started watching the first series of the sitcom “A Good Place”. The premise: Set in “heaven”, exclusively the best of the best people are sent there, but “Eleanor” is sent by mistake. She's not a nice person.
So far so good. Not a particularly original idea but it's good fodder for a fantasy based sitcom. However, what I noticed very quickly was how shoddy and loose the writers had been with the world building. The conception of “heaven” or the “Good Place” is poor and ill-thought out: think about it for more than 5 minutes and it begins to crumble, the amount of belief suspension required to sustain it is akin to a major engineering project!
But I still enjoy it immensely anyway and have no problem sticking with it.
Good world building isn't always needed
The actors and their performances are very good, production values high, character interaction, relationships and developments are interesting, and the comedy situations are funny. A lot of effort has been put into the show to make it sleek and well produced. But most importantly the setting is basically the “real world” with fantasy rules to it. These factors work together to off-set the the flaws in the premise!
There's nothing new here, this is a common theme with fantasy based stories: I Dream of Genie, The Adams Family, Fantasy Island, Bewitched, Sabrina the Teenage witch, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Dead like Me etc. None have a premise that holds up to scrutiny, but unlike SciFi with terrible world building (e.g. Avatar), the fact that all these stories take place in something like a “real world” setting means that most of the work has already been done. We're prepared to accept a certain level of magic as long as we can recognise and understand most of the other elements and things seem to work as we expect them to.
Having engaging characters, interesting stories, good looking stars, and good production values puts them over the top!
I was thinking of this in relation to my own comic, Pinky TA. Pinky TA isn't fantasy based but it IS set in an alternative version of the real world. There are various… illogical elements to it. I've often worried that I should try and have a detailed structure to the world of Pinky TA to make sure everything makes sense and has a reason for being. I really have tried at times, but the truth is my world building is rather loose and cavalier. yet readers have never had any issue with that aspect.
Now I feel I finally understand why. ^_^
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ozoneocean at 12:00AM, Oct. 27, 2018
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