Eleven years after the iconic, genius, frustrating, scintillating, upsetting finale—the cut-to-black heard round the world, we’re jumping headfirst into the underworld of New Jersey crime, and into the den of the Sopranos. HBO’s critically acclaimed series captured viewers instantly by asking a simple question: what if a mob boss went to therapy? But instead of turning it into a punchline, the show used that springboard to open up questions about humanity, mental illness, family, and the American Dream. Now Derek and Laurel pull apart the characters, the influences, and the ultimate successes and failures of the series that brought epic, romantic stories back down to earth. Brief lessons on Italian Opera, the theatrical form Commedia dell’Arte, and the most famous thought experiment in quantum mechanics.
Last week, we talked about the Force awakening in Rey, our hero. This week, Derek & Laurel explore the continuation of Rey’s character journey through the Last Jedi. As a mentor-less orphan wandering the galaxy in search of guidance, Rey’s coming-of-age is unique in the Star Wars universe. Where the heroes who came before her were aided by the likes of Yoda and Obi-Wan Kenobi, Rey must find her way more or less alone—with the fate of the galaxy quite literally hanging in the balance. Join us for part two of a deconstruction of Rey, a new kind of Star Wars hero.
What makes a great king? The archetype of the king is an age-old convention in storytelling, and we can find answers to that question in Arthurian legend, Shakespeare, Disney, and Tolkien. But let’s look to the Marvel Cinematic Universe once more to try and understand how that question informs its latest installment “Black Panther.” Join Derek & Laurel on this journey from Oakland to Wakanda as we demystify the makings of great monarchs—and how the answer to that question has changed in the modern world.
Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, or Slytherin— which house are you in? Whether it’s a fun game, a personality-defining decision, or an actual educational system, “sorting” is a bigger part of our lives than we might think. This week, Derek & Laurel return to the Harry Potter series to explore the Hogwarts houses as they relate to storytelling archetypes, and the historical examples of similar traditions. Perhaps the most important question, however, is this: does the beloved Sorting Hat simply reinforce dangerous tribalism? Or does it, in fact, deliver a scathing critique?
This week’s episode takes a look inside HBO’s stellar series “Big Little Lies,” the archetypes it relies on, and the stereotypes it deconstructs. From Freud’s triangle of trauma to Hippocratic Humorism, there’s a lot going on beneath the idyllic surface in the wealthy beach town of Monterey. Join Derek and Laurel on a journey beneath the waves as we look at what went so so right (and what went so so wrong.)
Did you honestly think we were done talking about Rick and Morty? We haven’t even scratched the surface of the multiverse of Midnight Myth Rick and Morty talk. Listen this week as we deconstruct the story structure of Rick and Morty, trying to understand why the antihero works and doesn’t work in modern serialized commercial shows. We go from Ancient Greece to the Sopranos to Rick and Morty, all to ascertain what makes the antihero one of post-modernity's most commercially viable archetypes.
“Ours is the fury.” These are the words of House Baratheon. Lords of the Stormlands, and House that brought about King Robert’s rebellion. Yes my friends, Derek and Laurel travel to the fantastic realm of Westeros, as they perform the first of many Game of Thrones character studies. The focus of the first study is Stannis Baratheon, younger brother of Robert, and his journey from second fiddle to claimant of the Iron Throne, perpetrator of filicide, and ultimately the one who brings ruin to his house. We learn that Stannis is not a unique figure, drawing upon his Greek mythological character archetype, and historical parallels. Perhaps the more fitting words for House Baratheon, “Go on, do your duty”.