How important is creativity, really?

Last month, I watched the entire season of Jessica Jones.  In case you aren’t familiar with it, it’s a Netflix series that centers around a woman who is a bad-ass detective with super strength.  She solves different cases every episode, but is mostly after this one ultra villain who can manipulate people with his mind.

While I was watching the show, I was really into it.  I waited eagerly for the time of day when one of my roommates would ask “Do you want to watch some Jessica Jones?” (obviously I couldn’t bring it up myself because I didn’t want to seem desperate.  Also I don’t know how to work the TV.).  Anyway, I experienced all the emotions you’re supposed to when watching a TV drama.

After it was over, I was finally able to remove my feelings from the situation, and I began to think about the show’s success rationally.  I wondered why this one was picked over all the other ones pitched to the TV producers, and I just couldn’t see why Jessica Jones had made it.  Here’s how it probably went down:

Person presenting: Okay, we’ve got a good one this time.  A detective show.

TV people: Yeah, we have a lot of those.

Person presenting: Well this time, it’s going to be full of action and they’ll be this one crazy villain that everyone thinks is totally crazy.

TV people: Um yeah we have that too.

Person presenting: Well this time, there will be a female lead. 

TV people: So…?

Person presenting: And she will be snarky and headstrong.

TV people: *Yawn*

Person presenting: and did I mention she will have SUPERPOWERS??

TV people: Well why didn’t you say so in the first place!! We’ve only got about ten of those, we could use more!

I’m pretty sure that’s what happened.  But the crazy thing was, even though I knew that the premise for the show was completely unoriginal, I still loved it.  I still became emotionally invested in the characters, and I would still watch another season of it gladly.

The same thing happens with me and books.  I’ve read pretty much all the science-fiction and fantasy plots known to man, but if the writing’s good enough, I really get into it.  Traveling back in time? Check. Going on an epic quest to defeat a villain?  Check. Going on an epic quest to find your destiny? Check. Stopping an evil company that plans to destroy the world? Check.

I’ve realized that as long as the writing or acting is good enough so that I can empathize with the characters (and not get confused because there are too many), I’m in.  All the way.  To make a good book or show, in my opinion, all you need is some understanding of human emotions.  If your characters are real, I buy in.

Fine, a plot is nice too, and good writing an extra bonus, but if I don’t care (char?) about your characters, I’m leaving you behind.

So how highly should we actually rank creativity?  Do you agree with me or do you think there’s more involved in making a hit?

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