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The thing about characters.

I like talking about people. Not (just) in a "Did you know what happened to...?" kind of gossip. And certainly not the "She said you said he said they said..." type. I like thinking about what people do and why they do it. I like over-analyzing stuff they say, reading into their every word. It's kind of crazy, I guess, for someone who isn't a psychology major. (And it really sometimes makes me want to consider taking up psych in the future.) But I like it, I really do. There's fulfillment in seeing a group of people ruffle each other's feathers or gel together like a single unit, despite (or perhaps because of) their differences. The tension need not be written in because upon collision, it's already there. She's bossy, he's an introvert. She's brutally frank, the other's much too nice. He's got ADHD, but the other's a little insensitive. Ah, an immediate explosion. That interests me more than anything, really.

Modern Family and Community - two of my favorite comedies right now that are both making my long, free summer days so worth it. Include Arrested Development in the list, and it rounds out what I think are the best-written shows on television ever. They also, incidentally, all comprise of ensemble casts, with each episode being more character-driven and focused on the cohesion of the people rather than the plot. Not that these two have awful premises - they actually have the best story lines, but just in different contexts - but I appreciate that the plot unfolds as the characters are fleshed out (and vice versa), rather than because of accidents, coincidences, or other sudden event that sounds convenient.

Character has always been more interesting for me. I always find myself fascinated more with the characters rather than the story itself. At the back of my head, every time a new character is introduced, be it in a show or a book or a movie, I always find myself wondering where they were from, what they like having for breakfast, who bullied them during their second-grade recess, what they would do if someone called them fat - that kind of thinking. I find character quirks interesting to look into, not only because they have the potential to be funny and are almost always worth remembering, but because they can drive the story much further than anything else can. After all, a lot of the things that happen in life are often a result of someone else's weird/sudden/expected reaction from it. Things don't always fall into places by magic - it's the people that make it happen.

(Which explains why I hate shows like Glee that rely so much on what tricks they can keep milking rather than invest on their characters. It's ripe with quirky, interesting people on the show yet they keep giving the "Let's randomly insert a song that is currently popular and is somewhat tangentially related to this scene so that we can get thousands of iTunes downloads"? Come on. And don't even get me started on how they work in their songs.)

I guess this also explains why I'm a sucker for the "uneventful moments" in stories and novels, in movies and TV programs. My favorite moment in The Kids Are All Right is Annette Bening singing "All I Want" by Joni Mitchell at the dinner table. My favorite part in F. Scott Fitzgerald's "Rich Boy" is when Anson Hunter, at the home of Paula (his former love) and her husband Hagerty, responds with a simple, seemingly nonchalant manner when the two display showy amounts of affection. The best scenes in Modern Family are always the couch scenes, when they're looking at the "documentary" cameras.

I like them because quite frankly, reality doesn't always rely on grand gestures, just the friction between people in that one single moment.

And who doesn't like friction?