Sunday, March 23, 2014

Appealing to Both Sexes?


There are stories that appeal to both sexes, but last week, I was reminded again of how men and women want such different things out of the stories they read or watch on TV/film and how difficult it is to please both at the same time.

My latest obsession is the new TV adaptation of Alexandre Dumas’ The Three Musketeers, just called The Musketeers and revamped to give it a much more modern feel.  It’s kind of similar to the recent Robin Hood series which featured Richard Armitage in black leather – the musketeers wear leather too and their outfits are a wonderful blend of old and new.

The man behind this new adaptation, Adrian Hodges, has done a great job IMO and has brought something new to it rather than just reworking the same old story, the way most films have done in the past.  He takes a lot of liberties, of course, but it doesn’t seem to matter and all fits in very nicely.  There’s plenty of sword-fighting and violence to please male viewers (Vinnie Jones was in last week’s episode, which says a lot!), and there are sub-plots galore featuring women, not least the brilliantly selfish Milady de Winter.

The one sub-plot that interested me the most, however, was the budding romance between D’Artagnan and the married Constance, his landlady.  Over many weeks they got to know each other, helped one another out and the viewer could see respect, love and trust building between them until finally, they confessed their love and started an affair.

Photo from www.IMDb.com
Ok, so maybe it’s wrong to root for a couple where one party is married (to a very obvious buffoon, but still …), but the whole build-up to this romance was very well done and a joy to watch.  So an episode having concluded with that passionate declaration one week, I sat down with great anticipation to watch the next to see their love develop – and had my hopes dashed within minutes.  Why?

The writer obviously felt that this was what the series needed, keeping D’Artagnan free from a love interest and able to go on his way (albeit angry and disillusioned), but could he not have been allowed to be happy at least for a while?  As a woman, this made me feel completely cheated and if you’re reading this, Mr Hodges, I sincerely hope you’re planning on bringing them together again at a later stage, if not already in tonight’s episode!

Any man watching this probably didn’t even notice and thought it just another sub-plot, but with the enormous build-up to this particular romance it seemed to me to have much more significance.

This has turned into a bit of a rant, but I guess what I’m trying to say is that we can’t cheat our readers/viewers by leading them down one path, only to trample on their joy once we finally conclude this plot strand satisfactorily.  After a while, perhaps, but not so quickly or so callously.  But maybe that’s just my very female point of view …?

20 comments:

  1. It's true men and women have hugely different expectations of fiction. This is a very interesting post.

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    1. Thanks, Margaret, glad you agree! :-)

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  2. I wouldn't agree that it is completely split on gender. Different people want different things from their fiction. But I also get upset when a plot strand is tidied up too quickly and too easily. What was the point in me being invested in it from the start?

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    1. Yes, you're right - it probably depends on what you're reading/watching as you'll have certain expectations. If I'm watching a Bruce Willis film for example, I know I'm getting violence :-)

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  3. I love The Musketeers - gorgeous men with beards wearing black leather - what's not to like?

    If I remember rightly the 1973 film with Oliver Reed and Michael York also had D'Artagnan hearthbroken when M'ilady killed Constance - and then Athos killed her (his former wife!) No happy endings there either.

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    1. Yes, I didn't like that! But unfortunately that was true to the original story. I prefer the HEA versions :-)

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  4. Men and women write their stories differently as well. I suspect that Adrian Hodges thinks the current state of D'Artagnan and Constance's romance is a suspenseful hook - and from this post and the comments, obviously, everyone is wanting a further outcome, so he's right. Instant gratification is a very modern concept - their love will be all the richer for going through some tough experiences.

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    1. I do hope you're right, Beth, and it's only a temporary hiccup!

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  5. Interesting thoughts. I love the way your description of 'Robin Hood' matches mine - Richard Armitage in black leather - can't even remember who played Robin Hood!

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    1. LOL, Angela, no who cares about Robin Hood when you can have Guy of Gisborne? :-D

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  6. I agree with Beth (above), that there could be many interesting plot developments in store for D'Artagnan yet, maybe we should wait and see how things pan out. After all, in our romances we like to put the protagonists through the mill before they get their HEA, so perhaps this is a TV version of the 'conflict' situation?

    I usually sit down and watch two or three episodes back to back, so my viewing experience is different to those who watch just the one hour a week, but I must say I agree with Christina, it is a fabulous adaptation. And never mind the dashing four lead men, Peter Capaldi is a joy!

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    1. Yes, sorry, I forgot to mention the brilliant Cardinal - he's very well played in this series :-) And I'm probably being impatient, let's hope there's more happiness in store for D'Artagnan and Constance!

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  7. Really good food for thought, Christina. I tend to watch my series back to back so I wonder how different that experience is compared with waiting a week.

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    1. I should probably have waited and bought the whole series on DVD (will do that anyway and watch it again). I have to admit I don't like waiting a whole week in between episodes, but I guess that's a sign that it's a great series!

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  8. I'd love to see this series (it's not on in Australia) It's always interesting to see how old favourites are given a modern update (Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes, anyone?)

    But back on the topic of leading your readers up the garden path, so to speak, I seem to remember hurling "Villette" at the wall after I'd finished it. Charlotte Bronte had spend 400 pages taking us through her rather long and drawn-out tale, and right when we think the heroine is going to get her HAE, it's stolen away from us in the last couple of pages when the man of her dreams, who she's waited the entire book for, gets killed when his ship sinks in a storm.

    It seems it's not a new development, or solely the domain of male writers.

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    1. Yes, I did the same with Gone With the Wind - I was soooo angry! LOL No, I guess it's nothing new :-)

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  9. I haven't watched this series, but after reading these comments I'm off to investigate. The Three Musketeers was one of my favourite books when I was growing up, and we all started listening to a radio adaption on R4Extra yesterday. If you're saying Peter Capaldi plays The Cardinal on TV, that sounds like a perfect piece of casting!

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    1. Oh yes, he's deliciously evil ... you'll love it! :-)

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  10. I loved this post Christina - exactly what I was thinking last week! I watch the series with my husband and two teenage boys - and yes, they take something very different away from it than I do. Whenever if comes to the love interest, they declare 'this is fill in' and start to talk, rustle papers/chocolate wrappers, fidget. Oh to have had daughters!

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    1. My DH doesn't say anything, but I'm sure he's thinking the same thing :-D As for daughters, well neither of mine like history so won't watch! A shame, but their loss!

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