Obsession – the state of being obsessed with someone or something; an idea or thought that continually preoccupies or intrudes on a person’s mind.
When we watch a TV programme we do so to get away from the reality of our own lives. This could be considered a tad ironic as we then become totally engrossed in and obsessed with the ‘reality’ in whatever programme we are watching. We start to react to what is happening on the show and talk about character’s problems as if they are real. One of the reasons for this is simply that, while this character is fiction, their problems may resonate with us and we start to root for that character as a result. We have the desire to see our favourites come out on top and get their way in a way that maybe we cannot.
It is probably true to say this has always been the case and people have always been obsessed with favourite shows and characters, but equally as social media continues to evolve at a rapid rate, it is probably true to say it has never been more accessible. It is very easy to become obsessed with a programme these days. We develop feelings for characters and then an idea of what we would like to happen. When you find yourself extremely disappointed in the route chosen on a TV programme you used to call your favourite, your own obsession turns against you. As stupid as it can and does seem those who have no interest in becoming as involved about it all, it is very hard to take when you see characters you like and have developed an understanding of end up in a storyline which does not meet expectations. Clearly, writers cannot please everyone and fan fiction is a way to put across another opinion on what could have happened. It is where fan fiction comes into its own and saves the day.
You can choose to completely ignore the storyline that is the subject of your ire and give the characters the happy ending you wanted. The happy ending continually mocked on fan forums and never realistically going to happen on the show.
I wrote this particular one shot in response to a prompt from another fan. It ignores completely Brody’s death on Homeland. He is here to be a dad to his third child. Yay! Happy days. It cheered me up for a while.
Ignoring for example the death of a character on a show also allows you to explore deeper into the character and their backstory using what the show has already provided as a foundation. There usually is a lot of scope in this area because shows tend, for the most part, to tease about backstory rather than fully map it out. Ignoring the death of a character also provides the opportunity to move forward into their future after the show and because this character is dead on the show, you have pretty much the leeway to go wherever you want. There will always be places and people mentioned on shows in relation to that specific character that were never explored and the benefit of them being alive in your fan fiction is that you can now go explore those people and places.
When I discovered and later on began writing fanfiction, it was a coping mechanism. One of my favorite characters on my once favorite (now cancelled) soap opera was killed off in a random, twisted fashion. (Poisoned breakfast food being the culprit). I can still remember watching the scene in tears and afterward feeling utterly kicked in the gut. I was in mourning for a fictional leading lady, and turned to a online forum and fellow disgusted fans for comfort.
Granted, characters on soaps and serial dramas and films and novels are fictional, but the investment the fans come to have in them is real. Sometimes fans are content with the path a character is written on. Other times they aren’t so content and express that feeling in different ways. I personally found fanfiction as the ultimate form of that expression. After awhile, this tool I used to cope turned into a full blown habit. One that led me to major in English and concentrate on Creative Writing in college.
I also took film and screenwriting courses in school, and realized after plotting out my first screenplay that I am a sucker for happy endings. I like characters being able to endure challenges and harrowing situations, but I want them to come out on the other side stronger, fulfilled and in the end, content.
With some shows that fulfillment and peace is shortlived, shown in glimpses, or hardly shown at all. While it makes for drama and intensity and an interesting chat around the watercooler the next day, it’s tough if you are a more than casual fan who is invested and ultimately disappointed. In that characters payoff not being found, or their potential and happiness not being fully achieved.
With Homeland and a certain redhaired gunnery Sergeant, I wanted to change that outcome. The discussion between Carrie and Brody about the possibility of them being happy was one that didn’t exactly leave my mind. I imagined it would take time and serious effort for the two of them to find happiness and peace together, but that eventually it could happen for them, with and because of their daughter.
I wrote the fic Sweet Comic Valentine based around that possibility. I jumped ahead a few years and wanted to keep the distinct characteristics of Carrie and Brody intact, while having them living together and working together to raise their little girl. Same characters, just in a different, simpler, slightly fluffier universe that I, as Bookworm said, felt compelled to explore. Even in just a simple, short and excessively sweet one-shot.
Happy reading! (note the operative word, happy. 🙂 )