Today has been brought to you by Crunchies, lack of sleep and a magazine deadline resulting in proofreading marks verging more on the eldritch than Merriam-Webster standard, and nearly sending a book chapter through instead- the one with a hellish beast running rampant, which may have jarred with sober reviews of programming books. Ahem.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past month or so, you’ve probably noticed the boom in costume dramas on TV. First, there was The Musketeers, which probably got Dumas rolling in his grave, and then there was Poldark, a great boost to Cornish tourism as well as the Sunday ratings. And the thing I’ve noticed about them is the massive amount of moody stares going on. Maybe we need a field guide to them. Good job it’s Friday and my productivity’s gone out the window, hmm?
A quick search of my manuscript reveals 31 ‘glares’, 23 ‘scowls’ and 4 ‘grimaces’, which is about par for the course when you’re herding a sullen teenager around. But staring angrily into middle-distance seems to be de rigueur for just about everything now. Take Broadchurch, for instance, the jewel in ITV’s drama crown. From what I’ve seen it seems to mostly consist of David Tennant and Olivia Colman either crying or staring out to sea in order to solve crimes.
The Broadchurch Sad Stare is best accompanied by something drippy like Coldplay simpering along in the background. Now, the Musketeers can’t be doing with any of that. Theirs is the Glare of Barely-Concealed Fury. Or, when there’s the slightest chance of some bodice-ripping, the Seductive Stare. Take it away, boys!
Poldark, on the other hand, takes all the cliff-based majesty of Broadchurch and the ovary-exploding sexy glowers of Musketeers, then adds a dubious-looking scar and some carefully-unruly hair into the mix. Then takes his shirt off because goddammit Colin Firth is too old now and the ladies will switch off in their droves unless they get a glimpse of some well-formed abs.
Which brings me neatly to the latest crop of parody Twitter accounts that are all the rage among certain writers. Brooding YA Hero, along with Token YA Sidekick, Typical YA Heroine, Average YA Dad and countless others, are both a source of mirth and endless cringing. There might be moments of manuscript-searching panic to see if you did give an overblown description of someone’s perfect eyes, or if your character plays with his hair a bit too much. (It’s borderline. If he does it one more time, I’m taking him for a haircut before I write another book. I HEARD THAT, YOUNG MAN.)
Ah well. At least my character’s staring comes with an internal Joy Division soundtrack instead of Coldplay. That makes it better, right?