All good drama should convey the essence of the human condition and melodrama can never meet that mandate.  A righteous dramatic experience can be uplifting, serve as a warning against degraded morality, and every play must end with a proper catharsis

Melodrama — a cartooning of the proper dramatic experience — might be
good for a laugh or for a false cathartic moment that does not last, but it is never a right

Melodrama is based on exaggeration and a cloaking of real emotion.  Instead of becoming part of the story, the audience is always placed at arm’s length in order to sustain the un-believability factor of the predictable plot.

Predictability in a plot is not always a bad thing because that natural progression in storytelling can be pleasing to an audience, but when that predictability becomes an ordinary base assumption, there is nowhere for the story to take you except to a telegraphed end where the good win and the evil are punished.  Too predictable.  Too unsatisfying.

Keep the melodrama out of your drama and your characters will breathe better in the real air of an uncertain world and learning how they cope with their unknowing predestiny in a free choice world is precisely the sort of human confusion we all bring to the live theatre for the disassembly, recognition, sorting and shared suffering of a common station.


  1. I think too much melodrama might be killing american soaps, as I soon shall explain! 🙂

  2. I wouldn’t go as far as to say always, David — particularly not British soaps. They really do a good job of not overdoing it.

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