Last month I read Susanne Colasanti's latest novel, So Much Closer. In it, a girl finds out her longtime crush is moving to New York City, so she follows him there and enrolls at his new school in the hopes that he'll notice, and fall in love with, her. It's not a bad book, but the entire time I found myself thinking about how unbelievably unrealistic the whole thing was. I mean, really? It just seems crazy. The whole time I was thinking about how insane this character is and how I couldn't believe what she was doing.
It just wasn't very believable.
And then Saturday night I watched television. More specifically, I watched iCarly and then Legally Blonde, both of which I love. In the first, a girl checked herself into a mental institution because she likes a boy. And I assume everyone has seen Legally Blonde, but on the off chance you haven't, she follows her ex-boyfriend to law school in order to become a lawyer so that he'll go out with her again and ask her to marry him. Now, these things are equally as unbelievable as the plot of So Much Closer, but I accepted them so much easier. A mental hospital? From vapid sorority girl to law school student? No problem.
And the craziness doesn't stop there. In Pushing Daisies, a character joins a convent to get away from the guy she's in love with (and also there's a dead girl who's never recognized by her family, but that's another type of crazy); Lizzie McGuire passed for an Italian pop star for, like, a long time. And I easily went along with those things.
So why is it that the most unbelievable (and, let's face it, usually pretty stupid) things happen in a TV show or movie, but when similar things happen in books it's so difficult to get past? All of the shows and movies I mentioned? Love them. The book? Well, the idea that The Office references were so obscure people wouldn't get them was my breaking point.
There is something wrong here, some disconnect between the fictional stories we see on television and the ones we read in books. Is it because the on-screen stories are comedies while most books aren't? Maybe, but even those books that are comedies couldn't get away with the type of storylines and character choices we see here. There are some things not even Scarlett and Spencer Martin can make believable and realistic.
And if it's not comedy, what is it? Is it easier to accept that worlds, though they look like our own, are their own universes when those worlds are shown on screen instead of in pages? Is it easier, somehow, to nitpick books? Are story mediums like television and movies more about escapism, whereas books are about relating? I don't know, but the more I think about it the more interesting the question becomes.
What do you think? Is it easier for you to accept the crazy things characters do if those characters are in TV/movies instead of books? And why?