I just want to like …

One of the issues I’m having with Coronation Street so far is that there are few characters that I just unequivocably like. The character that I can most relate to is Ken Barlow, and he’s about the only character that I really do just like. Oddly, I actually quite like Carla Collins despite the fact that she’s essentially an overwhelming force in pretty much everything she does, even when that involves her berating her employees. Taking the character as a real-life person for a moment, I think that if I knew someone like her I could get along with her fairly well, but wouldn’t want to, say, date her. Other than that, Roy and Hayley seem like genuinely nice people, Tina MacIntyre is interesting, and Maria is okay except that I’ve just gone through her story with Frank and the whole “It’s okay/No it isn’t/I’m ticked that my ex-boss is dating him” phase was irritating. But most of the others are people that either I don’t care about at all or that I don’t really like. Well, okay, Lloyd gets some bonus points due to familiarity with the actor.

This, of course, causes a problem: there aren’t clear heroes and villains in the storylines, and aren’t clear people for you to cheer or boo. Over here we’ve just gone through the whole Becky/Steve/Tracy thing (still ongoing) and both Becky and Tracy, to me, are totally unsympathetic characters. I can’t feel happy when they win or sad if they have a set-back. For a while, I felt sorry for Steve for having to put up with them, but since he turned out to be as manipulative and conniving as they are it ended up with it seeming to be just what he deserved. Part of the problem is that even when you hit something that might make you feel sorry for one of them, they’d almost always ruin it by how they reacted. If they came out on top, they’d rub it in. If they were losing, they’d pull some nasty trick to try to get back at the other person, or go off on some kind of spree about it. It’s hard, then, to watch that sort of storyline and care about what happens to them.

The same thing is happening with the Kylie/Max/David/Becky storyline. You get the lovely moment where Kylie decides that she wants her son … and then she immediately tosses away that good will by being a jerk about it to Becky. As does David, squandering the good will earned from caring about her son — who is not his son — and from helping out Graeme in his storyline with Xin. Every time you start to think “Hey, maybe they aren’t complete jerks” they take an action to remind you that, you know what, they really, really are.

I’m dearly hoping that this isn’t supposed to reflect how people really are in the real-world, because that would just make me become totally cynical.

The issue you can run into is not only that you have storylines with characters you don’t like, but that you end up with storylines filled with the genuinely sympathetic and likeable characters clashing. The Tina/Graeme/Xin storyline was kinda like that. Ultimately, to my mind Tina came off as the worse character, as she started getting jealous long before there was anything to really be jealous about, but Xin came off as selfish as well, not really concerned that she was in fact trying, at least in part, to take away the boyfriend of a good friend of hers. The only character that came out well, in my opinion, was Graeme, mostly because he was pushed into the situation in the first place by Tina, and then simply blundered into the situation without realizing it, felt really badly about it, was totally confused, and then finally made a clear choice. With Graeme and Xin gone, that could have left Tina as another unsympathetic character, if it was for her strong will (which makes her really interesting to watch) and the fact that she seemed to acknowledge, at least, that she was being a bit, as she put it “stroppy” and so acknowledged her faults. But if you put all likeable characters into conflict, unless the story is done really well at least one of them is going to come off as being unsympathetic and so less likeable. You can do that as part of a Face-Heel turn, but you don’t want to do it too often.

Especially when you don’t have a lot of likeable characters to fall back on.

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