It’s not all about the plot though. Characters can make or break a TV series. They need to be complex and how they react to situations will not only determine their values but reveal who they really are. The audience can love them or hate them, but they need to feel a connection. Character idiosyncrasies can help sway this empathy. The way a character dresses, talks or walks, even their quirks which reflect our own and create a relationship. In Girls, my own hook was the investigative mind and quick wit of Lena Dunham, also a writer. In Sensitive Skin, it was more about age and identifying with Kim Cattrall’s menopausal search for a future.
Seasons is a journey and its audience needs to want to join the family in their search for success in their new life. The characters need to be convincing and real. Their language needs to be modern and appropriate. Above all the Jones family need to enhance the content of every episode.
The temperament of each member of the family needs to distinguish their character and show complexity as they are challenged by their life in France. How they behave in certain situations will determine their values and outline their own stories which in turn reinforce the plot.
There are four principles leads. Ben the head of the family, is a good person at heart who tries his best but often gets things wrong in a charming way. At his core is a strong character who is ready to defend his family. Hard done by, feisty, strong-willed Serena, fiercely guards the family in a stricter strong manner, Ben provides light relief in the series alongside his son Hunter, often against the wrath of Serena’s impatience and Jessica’s teenage discontent. Jessica’s strong sense of feminism and individuality, coupled with her age make her prone to conflict. Similar to her mother she has a deep-seated vulnerability and insecurity. Hunters boyish charms generally win everyone over with comic relief to counteract most of the situations his sibling creates.
The charm and humour of the family and the quirky nature of the community that surrounds them counteract the drama brought to the series by the visiting guests. An ideal stage for cameo performances by notable celebrities as seen in such popular series as Cheers, Friends, Scrubs and ER.
Why the Alps? Apart from being our real life story setting, it provides a rich, visual, mental escape from most viewers day-to-day lives. It also provides the perfect excuse to test the family to their limits. Location, similar to plot can affect a character’s behaviour, especially if the setting is out of the ordinary. It’s easy to lead a humdrum existence in a safe environment you are familiar with, but what happens when this is taken away? This type of challenge heightens behaviour traits as the struggle to adapt tests the core of any character. Once the Jones family get to grips with the challenges of their new environment in France in the first series, the second series further challenges from the guests and hotel owner which as Ben and Serena set up their own business in season three. This change in living circumstances brings about fresh new challenges in subsequent seasons: snow clearing; transport difficulties; cow migration etc., all of which diversify the content and create extra challenges.
Looking forward past the first pilot episode, which is the start of the journey for the Jones family, there is a wealth of material to draw upon for content, which could easily span up to 10 series (6 x 30-minute episodes). Issues such as: alcoholism; corruption; politics; bad parenting; prostitution; drugs; self-discovery; loneliness; death; divorce; infidelity; poverty; retirement; education; disability; health; obesity; serious illness; drink driving; class; the supernatural etc., can all addressed and a give the episode a subtle sense of morality.