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5 Media Tropes that We’re Here For in 2019 (and ones we’re not)

By: London Anderson

Trope: a significant or recurrent theme; a motif.

For us consumers of all things literary, digital and cinematic, tropes are an inevitable part of the catch. Some of us are trash for them, some of us think they are the trash, but at the end of the day, we can’t get around them. And of these trends that keep appearing and reappearing in your favorite books, TV Shows and movies—which are actually good? Which are bad? Which seem so overdone that you want to bash your head into the universe’s vortex of unoriginal ideas? 
I’ve taken a look at a few of my own personal favorite shows as of recent, and have derived several conclusions.
Let’s dive in.

1. The Token Whatever (insert underrepresented minority)
I was recently watching the TV Show Young and Hungry, and realized it embodies two stereotypes we’re trying to break as a society: a gay character as the ‘gay best friend’ and a Latina woman cast as the ‘sassy roommate/best friend.’ In The Big Bang Theory, Raj plays the centuries-old part of the immigrant sidekick, and in Gossip Girl, I can’t even recall a character that was a person of color. While I have to say that SOME diversity is better than none at all, which most of these shows have—this is the 21st century, guys. Let’s make a gay main character with a straight best friend, and create Latinx characters that don’t need to be described as ‘caliente’ (see the movie The Duff). We should be able to write representation without the stereotypes by now.
Verdict: NOT here for it

2. Diversity
Seen any Netflix shows with more diverse characters lately? I recently watched Sex Education (very NSFW) and Insatiable, and they both did a pretty good job of incorporating characters than were not stereotypical, but diverse. 13 Reasons Why executed this well, and Criminal Minds has diversified their cast a ton recently. Have you noticed other shows doing this too? That’s not a coincidence. The movement for more representation and inclusion of all different races, ethnicities, sexualities and genders in media has grown exponentially in the past few years. This surge of taking shows and movies that could have been whiter and straighter than the Bachelor’s teeth and making them diverse is a great thing all-around.
Verdict: HERE for it

3. Girls with Flaws and Personalities
Back to Insatiable. The main character—insecure, manic-depressive, obese-pariah-turned-beauty-queen Patty, has an insatiable desire to get revenge on those who made fun of her before her transformation. Interesting character? Definitely. Sound flawed? You bet. Unlike Twilight’s monotoned Bella Cullen or Friends’ overwhelmingly bland Rachel, this girl exhibits both moral flaws and specific personality traits. In Sex Education, our leading lady Maeve is a snarky, sexually liberated outcast with a penchant for underground business at school. Is she kind of mean? Absolutely. But she’s relatable. Girls of the twenty-first century like flawed, complex female characters: take perpetually angry Katniss from The Hunger Games, intelligent Hermione from Harry Potter or even the queen of snark herself, Jessica Jones. We want more girls with real personalities and issues, and we’re happy they’re finally here.
Verdict: HERE for it

4. Retellings??? (Not exactly a trope as much as a trend, but close enough)
Do you remember when Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson broke up a few years ago (before K-Stew came out), because she had some scandalous rendezvous with her director on Snow White and the Huntsman? Well, the movie was obviously worth it, because we KEEP SEEING these retellings. In just the past few years, we’ve seen retellings of Cinderella, Pride and Prejudice, Into the Woods, Beauty and the Beast, The Nutcracker, Robin Hood…and soooo much Snow White. Hollywood keeps churning out these retellings for some reason, and I have to say, I’m kind of over it. Why can’t we come up with new fairytales? Forget retelling, and just tell new stories. I don’t know about you guys, but this seems like a trick to me. Why would I go spend money to see a newer version of a movie I already know the ending to?
Verdict: NOT here for it

5. Turning books into movies or TV shows
Okay, so I’m a writer, which means I’m kind of partial to this one. Recently, I’ve watched books such as The Hate U Give, 13 Reasons Why, and Dumplin’ become adapted into films and TV shows. Nicola Yoon’s The Sun is Also a Star is also coming up on the roster, along with Leigh Bardugo’s Six of Crows and Shadow and Bone series. So, I know there aren’t any enormous negatives with this trend, other than the fact that the books are almost always better than the movies. But honestly, I would be kind of concerned if the books weren’t a little better than their adaptations. Plus, I personally love my favorite stories being taken to the big screen. While I liked The Hate U Give the best out of the three adaptations I saw, I have to say they all had factors I really enjoyed after having read the books.
Verdict: HERE for it

About the author: London is the Editor and Founder of Urban Galaxy Literary Journal, an alum of the Kenyon Young Writers Studio, and an aspiring novelist. She goes to Whitney Young in Chicago and when she’s not writing stories about lady-killers with delicious love interests, she is playing the cello in her school orchestra, writing fun articles or watching Netflix. 

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