20 Aug 2015

Unruly - Basketball Night in Canada Final Comments

I still have a few unanswered issues to clear up before heading on to a new serial.  Time to take care of them.

First, diversity.  Diversity, to me, means making sure that the cast represents society.  The cast shouldn't be all the same shade of blinding pale that I am.  With today's works, it feels that creators have taken giant step backwards from the 80s, particularly with movies and television.  There is a turnaround happening, but there should never have been the backwards steps to begin with.  That said, I'm may not be much better.  Caitlin may be paler than I am.  I've left descriptions of Skye and Laura mostly to the readers, but that's not the same as stating that they're black, Asian, or Antarctican.

One of the problems I had in working out heritage was that the Unrulies aren't typical schoolgirls.  The school exists to help girls who are trouble* to redirect their energies in a more profitable direction.  My mantra during the early writing was that these girls would be the villains in another story.  Because of that, I wanted to avoid stereotypes if I could help it.  Sure, Caitlin is an redhead of Irish decent, but her goals avoid Irish stereotypes.  Autumn is Vietnamese, descended from refugees fleeing the country, and can be best described as a boy-crazy hacker, but she owns that.  But Skye and Laura?

With Skye, I have the same quibbles that Greg Taylor ran into with Time & Tied.  Skye's athletic, good at basketball, and capable of great violence.  I am hesitant to make her black; I don't want to play into any stereotypes.  As for Laura, her father's a drug dealer and her hands aren't that clean.  In Laura's case, I can argue that she'd work better as being white, mainly because of a former mayor of Toronto and his brother.

Caitlin and her roomies were the main characters for two episodes, but they weren't the only students.  Vamsi can trace her roots back to India, though she isn't particularly religious.  If she was, she probably wouldn't be at the Academy or be the budding fence that she is.  I do recognize that I need to work on diversifying my casts.  While I work on it, don't assume a nondescript girl is white.  Blanks are meant to be filled in by readers.

Speaking of religion, another area lacking.  St. Dymphna is a private Catholic school, so surely someone there must be faithful.  I have spoken to people who have gone to Catholic schools**, though.  Some grew in their faith; others became atheists; still more found a middle ground and ignore the Church except on holidays, weddings, and funerals.  Verity is the latter, at least for now, though I haven't had to get into the nature of her beliefs yet.  Mackenzie is the former.  It's the faithful that I need to work in at some point, both the quiet and the loud.  It's all in the nuance.

Second, the mystery of who is trying to shut down the school.  The mystery started with The Great Jennifer Round-Up and continued into Basketball Night in Canada.  The problem I ran into was that Caitlin really doesn't have a means to discover the person or persons behind the plot.  With The Great Jennifer Round-Up, I had an inkling of who was responsible and worked out at least one of the conspirators.  It was during Camp NaNo that I figured out the other conspirators.  Knowing who it is, though, doesn't help getting Caitlin to make that discovery.  I do have ideas on how to make the reveal to the audience.

Third, the lack of new Unruly episode.  That's all on me.  I have been working on the next episode, but I'm not making great headway.  I have a rough idea of what's happening, but no real details.  The next episode. Making the Rounds, features Vamsi and her roommates as a change of pace.  Laura's plight with her English class will be set aside.  The change of cast lets me expand the setting more, feature side characters in a broader role, and show new aspects of the school and how the students get along with the rest of the community.

Fourth, and this relates a bit to diversity, sexuality.  I have a school full of teenaged girls dealing with hormones, puberty, and budding sexuality.  Would an entire class go ga-ga over a teacher?  Laura hasn't, but she can't be the only girl.  Indeed, she isn't, and I tried to correct things, first by Flora saying that Laura should conform then having Camille tell Laura she wasn't the only one not interested in Mr. Baker.  That still leaves the question of who is and isn't homosexual or bisexual, but there hasn't been a reason to reveal anything like that.  Only six girls have demonstrated their sexual preferences so far - Laura, Mackenzie, Caitlin, Autumn, Caroline, and Jennie Carpenter.

If I've missed anything, ask away below.  I can answer questions, though I will avoid spoilers.

Tomorrow, the start of a new serial, Crossover with Chapter 1.
Also tomorrow, over at Psycho Drive-In, Star Wars: The Clone Wars.
Saturday, over at Seventh Sanctum, the August news round-up.

* As opposed to girls who are in trouble, though that can happen.
** In Ontario, there is are separate Catholic school boards funded by the province as required by the province's constitution.  The boards and their schools still must follow provincial guidelines when it comes to what must be taught, but they can add religious (read: Catholic) studies to their curriculum.
*** Other than Mackenzie, who made it clear on her first appearance.


  1. Thought I left a comment here. Obviously not. Interesting about leaving aspects of description up to the readers - I never even thought that Laura could be African or Mexican or who knows what else. I guess that shows where my default setting is. (Thanks for the shout-out, by the way.) Also interesting about the faith aspect - I suppose it's possible that someone goes simply because they like the uniform.

    You have done a pretty good job of broadening the universe with each arc. It's interesting that as you push out, we see more of the school shutdown plot too. (Coincidence?) All the best with finding your footing for more of it. I also might argue that revealing one sexual preference doesn't necessarily exclude the other, even in Laura's case. Oh -- and your *** footnote doesn't seem to actually appear in the post itself, I think Mackenzie's playing with your mind.

    1. Laura is, well, was the audience's way into discovering the Academy. That role will change for her. Vamsi gets the next arc, then Laura gets to go to Toronto. I may have a similar default, though I did work on expanding the cast. (You summed up the problem well.) Helping me here is having the St. Dymphna girls on the sidelines as supporting cast. Carly might change all that, though. There's also parents who feel that St. Dymphna can offer a better education than the public schools, with the benefit of the uniform.

      Thanks. The first arc needed to be Academy-focused, just to get the core setting in place so that I can build out from it. It was a coincidence, but as the universe expands, so do the threats. I still need a proper Caitlin vs Verity arc. True; for all we know, Mackenzie could be bi. ^.- That should have gone on the second last sentence of the last large paragraph. >.<;;