You want to know about my all time least favorite television show? It’s Max and Ruby. Does anyone else know of that show? I never watched it myself, but having younger siblings meant I was aware of kid’s shows even when I didn’t watch them.
I would have been nine or ten at the time, and I hated that show with a passion. I remember complaining about not wanting to watch it whenever it was on.
Every single episode was the exact same thing. I swear they could have taken the same script and just changed out the one word Max repeats over and over.
Now that I’m older, I realize that most children’s shows are exactly the same way. They follow a strict format that rarely changes. Even a lot of adult television shows does it.
There was something about Max and Ruby that made the constantly repeated story more obvious to me even at nine years old. I didn’t want to watch it because I could flat out tell you what was going to happen. Even today, I don’t feel the same level of contempt for the vast majority of kid’s shows that I felt for Max and Ruby.
It took me until about ten minutes ago to realize that Max and Ruby is a great lesson on writing. Most TV shows follow some sort of formulaic plot, but if the writer’s doing a good job, the audience won’t care. They may not even notice. If the writer’s doing a bad job… Well, the audience just won’t be bothered to continue on with the show.
And isn’t that the same for every type of writing? The same basic plots show up again and again, but plenty of stories still manage to be amazing while following them. What I hated so much about Max and Ruby as a kid wasn’t really the fact that the plot was basic. It’s how obvious it was that it never changed. Plenty of kid’s shows have the same plot every single day, but they manage to still make it new somehow each episode.
That’s what writers always have to do. Because if you broke any story down to its most basic outline, that outline could be applied to countless stories. How it’s changed and carried out is what’s important.
P.S. I realize now that I was pretty hard on a show that was meant for (probably very) young children, but I was ten.