Friday, December 23, 2011

Poker and Telling Stories on TV

from a 2009 episode of 'Law and Order: Criminal Intent'Had some fun this week with a new Community Cards column for the Epic Poker Blog. There I’m writing about various instances of poker turning up in “mainstream” popular culture.

The other night I happened to be switching channels on the old crystal receiver and during the course of the evening ran into not one, not two, but three different shows in which poker was featured. These were otherwise non-poker shows, mind you -- one a “reality” show, another a sitcom, and the third a crime drama.

I ended up rewatching all three shows, then put together a brief discussion of how each “used” poker to help with the business of storytelling.

One idea that struck me as I wrote the column was how poker can provide show creators a kind of short cut when it comes to character development, advancing the plot, or communicating themes or messages. As anyone who has played the game well knows, poker is a story-producing activity, instantly providing contexts for characters to emerge, conflicts to occur, and ideas about human nature to be explored.

Meanwhile, television shows are about as fast-paced a variety of storytelling as there is these days. Thus does the occasional poker game come in handy to move things along more quickly in between all of the Geico commercials.

Anyhow, if you’re curious go check the column out. The shows I discussed were “Basketball Wives LA,” “30 Rock,” and “Law and Order: Criminal Intent.”

Got some more gift-wrapping to take care of, so I’m going to cut things short here today. Everyone enjoy them holidays, and thanks again for giving me some time now and then on this here blog.

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Blogger James DiGioia said...

I would like to add that I saw an episode of Louie where they played poker (with some very strange variant of 7-card or 5-card stud with wilds and some other random stuff), as well as a few episodes of Lie to Me (about a guy who's good at detecting lies based of facial expressions, so it makes sense) where poker played a big role.

12/23/2011 5:41 PM  

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