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Thursday, March 3, 2011

These Characters Keep Coming Back

I'm a big fan of reality TV. You might call me a junkie. I'm okay with that, when you consider that I absolutely do not miss an episode of some of these shows.

It isn't just any show that I'm a junkie for, though. Some shows, like The Bachelor or any of the many reincarnations of Real Housewives shows, do nothing for me. If they come on, I flip the channel as quickly as possible. But other shows like Survivor, or Project Runway, or Top Chef, or The Amazing Race? More, more, more please!

The current TV season is filled with these shows that I can't stop watching all making use of some of the same people we've seen before. Some fans might say 'Too much!' but I am not one of those fans. I just want more of them.

Top Chef, for example, is in the middle of their first All Star season. While they didn't bring back any of my three favorite cheftestants from the past (hello Voltaggio brothers and Kevin!), there are some great contestants here. Who can forget Marcel, the king of the foams? Admit it--while you can't stand him, he's one of those guys you love to hate. He is drama-inducing gold. Then you've also got Carla, perhaps best known for yelling out "Hootie Hoo!" in the grocery stores while they shop. Well, that and for doing what Casey suggested in the final challenge and basically shooting herself in the foot. And who else has been on this season? None other than Casey.

Another show immersed in an All Star season is The Amazing Race. They have delved into this territory before, so this time they limited their choices to teams that have competed since the last All Star version. Goth couple Kynt and Vyxsin may not be your cup of tea, but there is no denying that they're memorable. Also memorable? Jet and Cord, two cowboys who proved they're (at least most of the time) a lot smarter than people give them credit for, just because of their accents.

Survivor may not be in the midst of a full-on All Star season (they did, after all, just finish with one during Heroes vs. Villains only a year ago), but they've brought two of the most memorable contestants ever back--yet again. Boston Rob, a man who arguably changed the game in the first All-Star season by putting game-play ahead of friendships and Russell, who is quite possibly the most villainous villain ever to play the game, are competing against each other and sixteen other survivors. Love 'em or hate 'em, you can't forget 'em.

Why do these shows keep bringing these people back? Shouldn't their one chance have been enough? Maybe they made enough of an impression their first time around that the producers realize they could very well make an even bigger impression with a second (or third--or fourth) opportunity.

It is something I think about when I'm writing. I want my characters to leap off the page the same way that these reality TV all stars have stuck in my memory. And I don't just want the main characters to do so--I want the bit parts to have just as much impact. Because who knows? If they are memorable enough in one go 'round, then maybe they'll get to make another appearance.

Do you like seeing characters return from one book to another? Do you recognize the potential of bringing characters back in your writing? And if you're a Survivor fan like me, who are you rooting for: Rob, Russell, or someone else?


  1. I don't watch Survivor, but I don't doubt it's a fun show to watch. I used to like Big Brother before the cast became all airheads. I liked the scheming.

    But on to your original question. I love when characters show up in other books, so I tend to write recurring appearances. And sometimes a bit player ends up playing a bigger role in a subsequent book. :)

  2. Like when the characters return? I love seeing old friends - and enemies - return!! In fact, I'm in the process of bringing one back in my WIP. He was so bad that everyone who read book one claimed he had no redeeming qualities. (Come on, even Boston Rob had something in his favor) So I'm bringing him back to tell his side of the story in hopes he has one or two sweet spots people will like.

  3. Regarding Survivor: Missed last Wednesday's episode, but based on how he's being a total dimwit this season when he KNOWS people know his style...I'm not currently rooting for Russell though I went into the season expecting to. I refuse to root for Rob (I've despised his since his appearance/hook-up with Amber and becoming a reality-show star...um...hog). I'm not sure I have someone to cheer for yet. I like "secret agent?" man b/c he's clearly insane.