Saw a tweet go by a couple days ago: something to the effect of “Let’s not forget literary fiction is also a genre.” It’s a response by writers and readers of genre fiction to the idea that the stuff they read and write isn’t “serious”, and that it’s unfair to ghetto-ize so-called genre fiction.
One part of me, thinks, sure, I get the argument: there are features common to literary fiction that make it just as much a genre as fantasy, mystery, and romance. Literary fiction often adheres to realism and has a certain quality of angst, dramatic tension, with flawed characters who are presented lots of obstacles that may or may not be resolved. These traits, along with the pursuit a universality, the goal of getting at the heart of the human condition, could be the identifiers for the genre ghetto we know as literary fiction.
A bigger part of me, however, says: Nope, literary fiction is not a genre, it is ALL the genres. The best literary fiction has elements of humor, romance, mystery, and even fantasy. Same applies to drama: it is the umbrella under which live comedy, romance, and even the supernatural. Call me a pretentious throwback, but where art is concerned (even visual art!), all other ways of seeing and being are subservient to drama. Being subservient doesn’t mean inferior! Drama is not better than comedy or romance or thrillers. Drama is simply the limitless space that lets all of the others in. Drama doesn’t refuse any possibility. And, in order to be really really good, comedy can’t divorce itself completely from drama, romance can’t either. Drama is what all other genres need, or at least acknowledge in some way, even ironically or derisively, in order to be totally believable and totally entertaining.
We know that Billions brings the lulz. What Damian (not Bobby) would probably call good old laddy humor (er, humour). It’s got plenty of really fun moments, both words-wise (“Viscosity.”) and scene-wise (fake fight, anyone?). As for romance, it’s a bit lacking in that department only because everyone is already married! There was the bit of cuteness when Mafee swung a date, and then apparently a long-term thing, with Deb using nothing but his self-effacing charm. Absent the romance, there’s still plenty of lust (for power) and longing (for the upper hand). What turns my head and keeps my eyes glued is the drama. In this post I’m going to look back at a couple of scenes that worked very well as great drama. Of course, there are more than these two, but these are the ones I remember most vividly, even now, a couple years after seeing them for the first time.
Continue reading “Billions Brings the Drama”