The Unreliable Narrator

~ I don't watch much television. It's not that I don't like to, and even though I find myself constantly busy with other things (and without enough time to watch much anyway), it's really not about that either. The fact is, as I mentioned in a previous blog post, I'm a story snob. Most shows and movies I watch (or try to watch) end up being a dud for me.


Recently, I started watching HBO's new series WestWorld. It's based on Michael Crichton's screenplay, and subsequent movie, from way back in 1973. I've always enjoyed Michael Crichton's work, and although the movie was never a book, and it came out when I was only two years old, I did watch it a few years later. I loved it. I won't ruin the plot but it was basically the original Terminator, set in the Old West. HBO's series takes a very different spin on the same story. It's produced by J.J. Abrams, so it's not surprising that it's wrought with secrets, easter eggs, and hidden plot lines. This post isn't to review that series, but in my opinion, it is an amazing show. One of the best I've seen in a while and certainly my current favorite. While listening to a Podcast about Westworld, I ran across the term "The Unreliable Narrator". This refers to the narrator of a story who's credibility has been seriously compromised. As a reader and a writer, I find this fascinating. As I look back on some of my favorite stories, I see that this is a reoccurring theme. If any story is told from the perspective of a character who's narration cannot be taken at face value, it leaves the audience constantly second guessing about what they are being told or shown (as is the case in the Westworld series). An unreliable narrator isn't to be trusted. Whether the storyteller is mixing up the facts due to mental disorder (see: Fight Club or Memento), a hidden agenda (see: Animal Farm), or a deliberate lie (see: The Great Gatsby), it almost always make for a very interesting story. After all, when it comes to a good story, if you can't trust the narrator, who can you trust? That's it for now. Until next post, happy reading (and watching)!

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