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Genre Deconstruction: Live-Action TV
  • The made for TV movie Men Dont Tell can be seen as the deconstruction on the Domestic Abuse genre. Rather than the man abusing the woman, it's the woman abusing the man. What's worse is that everyone viewed him as the abuser and is even arrested.
  • Dead Like Me is a more realistic take on Urban Fantasy. The reapers perform an important but unrewarding and unprofitable service so they either get jobs or live rough to get by. Decades of being responsible for people's deaths takes an emotional toll on reapers and they cope in various and not necessarily healthy ways.
  • My So-Called Life is essentially a deconstruction of teen comedies, although the creators never declared it as such. Tropes like Playing Cyrano and A Simple Plan are played seriously, showing how unpleasant they would be in real life. And the parents, instead of being cartoonishly clueless, are clueless in a more realistic, and more painful, way.
  • Good luck watching another crime drama, even a relatively realistic one, after watching The Wire's deconstruction of the genre.
  • Similarly, good luck watching another Anti-Hero show after watching Breaking Bad. The show essentially tears apart the whole notion of "good guys do the wrong thing to achieve the right goal." All characters who do the wrong thing, regardless of their intentions, they pay. The main character, Villain Protagonist who manufactures meth to provide for his wife and children, ends up getting disowned by them. His lawyer, Amoral Attorney who covers up his crime and connects him to the criminal underworld, end up having to change identity and live in exile. His brother-in-law DEA, Cowboy Cop who tries to bring him down without calling for backup, ends up getting killed by his criminal associates. His begrudging partner, Hitman with a Heart who puts up with his schemes to pay for his granddaughter's future, ends up getting murdered after their feud gets too hot. Basically, the show's message is this: you Can't Get Away with Nuthin' if you're Breaking Bad. Whatever your ends, if your means ain't legal, it's just going to be All for Nothing.
  • The Gruen Transfer analyzes and deconstructs advertising.
  • Though telenovelas are rarely prone to deconstruct the genre, a Colombian one named "La mujer en el espejo" ("Woman in the mirror") deconstructed the hell out of the archetypal plot of "Former Pollyanna is betrayed by her love interest and gets into a Roaring Rampage of Revenge via becoming fashionable and ruthless". According to this one, the only real way one no one could recognize you is having a Deal with the Devil to literally transform into another woman. Pity that you now are So Beautiful, It's a Curse; your family obviously doesn't recognize you (which is very inconvenient when you're trying to advise and protect them from the villains), mirrors show your real appearance, who becomes your detached conscience and berates all your bad decisions, including the aforementioned deal; and your love interest liked you much better the way you were.
  • Firefly's primary raison d'etre is to deconstruct the Space Opera genre. For example, the series opens with an epic battle in which The Alliance soundly defeats the Independent Worlds; The Captain's epic romance never even gets off the ground due to the personality clashes between him and his love interest, and the Raygun Gothic setting is rendered completely moot by the fact that the protagonists are too broke to afford any of the cool technology, and most of that stuff is unreliable anyway. And our heroes survive in this world by stealing, running away and generally being combat pragmatists. The Cool Starship they live in is constantly breaking down, and needs proper maintenance which they cannot afford. One of the early defining moments of the series was when they're about to let a captured enemy go and he gives them a "The Last Thing You Ever See" speech. So they kick him into a jet intake. It also deconstructs the Action Girl, Waif-Fu, and Super Soldier concepts with River, showing just how utterly and completely insane, emotionally-damaged, and traumatized a girl with those capabilities would be.
  • Malcolm in the Middle could be said to be a deconstruction of all the classic family Sitcom tropes. Instead of being cute and innocent, the kids are evil little troublemakers. Instead of being a stern authority figure the father is a spineless coward. Instead of being a kind loving Matriarch, the mother is strict, arbitrary, unreasonable, and has a volcanic temper. Instead of living in a nice, pristine, two-story suburban house, they live in a small, trashed-out home. (though it does look nice when it's clean) The parents have actual financial trouble, struggling to take care of three to four children while the dad works a dinky office job and the mom, instead of staying at home like most sitcom moms, works in a grocery store. Oh, and of course the lack of a Laugh Track. Malcolm was only following in the footsteps of The Simpsons and Married... with Children, making this more a case of Seinfeld Is Unfunny, as Malcolm definitely took it further.
  • A dark deconstruction of a typical Dom Com can be found in Titus in which it shows how a dysfunctional family can be messed up in the real world. It also plays around with several other tropes. For example; Titus' and friends' antics lead to bad publicity for their garage, leading to their biggest client demanding his money back, leading to the garage in financial trouble, leading to him drinking to drive Erin away, and so on. In most sitcoms, the guys would just make idiots of themselves publicly, learn A Lesson, then it would be forgotten by the next episode.
  • The new Battlestar Galactica massively deconstructed the old one, by showing how it "really" would look like if the last people were fleeing from a genocide. By proxy, the show also deconstructed "light" sci-fi like Star Wars.
    • Arguments have been made that the show is much less of a deconstruction, than it is simply a Darker and Edgier re-imagining; since it fails to address many of the problems of the original. This may be reinforced by the fact that the Cylons have been changed from an irreconcilable alien other, to an Anvilicious screed about mankind being destroyed by their own sins; interspersed with plenty of Fanservice and Fetish Fuel (two words: "dungeon ship"). Further reinforced by the fact that most of the major characters devote epic amounts of time to their personal dysfunctionalities; and seem to be only tangentially concerned with the fact that their entire race has been almost completely wiped out.
    • It also does away with the Snap Back that fans of Star Trek are familiar with. In Trek, the ship could get shot up with no ill effects next episode. With Galactica, especially following the Battle of New Caprica, you see what effect an epic space battle would have on a ship with no access to a station for repairs.
    • The show also deconstructs the Ace pilot with a heart of gold — Starbuck, and how messed up such a person would really be.
    • It could also be argued that BSG deconstructs Star Trek: Voyager, given Ronald D. Moore's criticism of that series in his famous interview.
  • Bodies is basically a deconstruction of hospital dramas.
  • The Sopranos takes Damn, It Feels Good to Be a Gangster and all its consequences and plays them for drama.
  • Many people believe that Glee is a deconstruction of traditional musicals. Unlike other musicals, in Glee most of the musical numbers take place either during a performance or in the character's imaginations, and sometimes both. When a character does try singing their feelings in real life to help their problems, it doesn't work out so well. Other people see Glee as a deconstruction of High School Musical. Whereas High School Musical, being a Disney Channel program for young children, doesn't show many real life high school problems, Glee deals with teen sex, teen pregnancy, homosexuality, homophobia, and drug use. This, however, is unintentional, as the creator of the show, Ryan Murphy, has stated that he's never seen High School Musical.
    • It's for these reasons that Glee is sometimes called "the most depressing show on television, presented as the happiest show on television."
    • Glee has largely abandoned its "deconstructing the musical" roots as the seasons have worn on, enthusiastically embracing the idea of bursting into song as a cure for all life's problems.
  • Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon ends up deconstructing its own source material in increasingly surprising ways as it diverges from the original story, until, by the end, Sailor Moon herself has become the Omnicidal Maniac villain; the senshi's power source, the Silver Crystal, turns out to have really been an Artifact of Doom; and erstwhile villain Queen Beryl is revealed to have actually been trying to save the world, albeit only so she could rule it. The deconstruction arises here as a result of the audience's own genre expectations about the senshi's Power of Friendship and the motivation of the Card Carrying Villains, and how naive and dangerous it'd actually be for the heroines to make such assumptions.
  • Star Trek experienced a successful Deconstruction with Deep Space Nine, a successful Reconstruction with Voyager, a Deconstruction with Enterprise, and Reconstruction with the 2009 film.
    • Specifically, Deep Space Nine is legendary for taking away from its protagonists all the "cushions" of The Original Series and The Next Generation that come with "The starship and crew encounter people, interact with them, have a conflict, resolve it by causing some kind of change in said people—and then warp off to have another adventure". Specifically, by securing the protagonists in a fixed location (a space station, as opposed to a ship), they now have to deal with the consequences of whatever changes they have a part in creating—and eventually the consequences of those consequences. Unlike in the previous two shows, Sisko and company are forced to live with what their actions bring about—and find themselves having to weigh their options accordingly.
      • In the two-part episode "The Maquis", Sisko himself deconstructs the Rousseau Was Right attitudes that had become commonplace in Starfleet—and Star Trek as a whole—by the time of the "Next-Gen" era, with his "It's easy to be a saint in Paradise" speech. As the show writers often noted, this speech, more than anything else, determined the direction for the rest of the show.
  • The Ten Commandments miniseries shows the many hard choices (abandoning his family, alienating his adoptive mother, causing his blood brother to do a Face-Heel Turn, killing his most loyal comrade to enforce God's authority) Moses had to make in following God.
    • Of course, loyalty to God and His cause above all else (sometimes including apparent good sense) is one of the major themes of The Bible from the very beginning.
  • In a very unique example, as the vast majority of deconstructions are very cynical in nature, The West Wing (a highly idealistic show) could be seen as a deconstruction of the popular conventions of what constitutes political immorality: the Press Secretary spins information not to cover up the government's guilt, but to protect the jobs of heads of state and militaries from the influence of political whims; politicians make unsavory deals with amoral lobbyists and scheming congressmen not for personal gain, but to rescue legislation that would help out thousands of people; the President's speeches and public appearances are carefully scripted not to make him look good, but to prevent confusion and possible panic from people who don't have Masters' in public policy; etc, etc.
  • 24 deconstructed the entire spy thriller genre - even its first season is a far cry from the "torture is everything" mantra in the later seasons. A government agent, who wants nothing more than to spend some downtime reconciling with his wife, gets press-ganged into investigating a potential assassination plot. All of Jack Bauer's co-workers are either revealed as moles or are heavily set up to be one. Jack is willing to defend Los Angeles, no matter how difficult the people (friend and foe alike) around him make it. Everyone that Jack works with either gets killed as a result of his leadership, or hate his guts because he sold them out prior to the events of the series. Jack goes through the entire season looking increasingly haggard and tired, and nods off in the morning while trying to find his family. Jack's wife goes through a Humiliation Conga (including getting kidnapped, being raped, having to flee a safehouse with her daughter and ending up with amnesia) that all amounts to nothing when she gets gutshot by her husband's co-worker and dies after revealing to Jack that she was pregnant. The best thing Jack achieves throughout the series are hollow victories - he's never any better off; even at the end of the series, he has to flee the U.S. after being branded a fugitive.
  • Law & Order deconstructs both cop shows and courtroom dramas. It doesn't end when the suspect is caught. It's just the beginning of a long litigation process and there's no guarantee the suspect will be found guilty or even that the right person is prosecuted.
  • Though on the surface it looks like business as usual, Power Rangers RPM deconstructs much of its franchise. We see exactly the kind of threat the villain can present (99% of the world has been nuked), the Plucky Comic Relief is not an Instant Expert upon becoming a Ranger (and is just competent enough to avoid being The Load), the Teen Genius designing all the gear got her skills from being in a secret think tank for most of her life and has No Social Skills as a result, and there is immense pressure to keep the Mid Season Upgrades coming lest the villain get ahead. Things that don't get deconstructed tend to be lampshaded and made fun of; gratuitous Stuff Blowing Up was questioned once, and the aforementioned Teen Genius regularly gets offended when the Ranger suits are referred to as "spandex".
  • Naeturvaktin is a fairly standard Work Com Cringe Comedy centring around Georg, a Control Freak Pointy-Haired Boss with awful politics. The sequel Dagvaktin is about just how awful and non-wacky it would be to have to work with someone like that in real life, and how genuinely messed-up they would have to be to become that kind of person in the first place. Several episodes of Dagvaktin are straight-up drama with no jokes at all, dealing realistically with the spiral of bullying, abuse, child abuse and murder which Georg ends up perpetrating.
  • The Deconstruction entry at the Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan presents a case about the movie being the Genre Deconstruction of Star Trek: The Original Series, and the Emotional Torque entry, in that same page, argues that this Genre Deconstruction saved the franchise.
  • Some reality shows, game shows and documentaries deconstruct classical fiction genres by playing them out in Real Life; more or less.
  • Kamen Rider has a deconstruction (Ryuki) and a deconstruction of the deconstruction and its legacy (Gaim):
    • Kamen Rider Ryuki was the first time (ignoring the mostly forgotten Shin Kamen Rider: Prologue) Kamen Rider actually took a massively different direction. In the past, Riders (and there are generally few) were either straight heroes or anti heroes who would ultimately fight for the greater good, the villains were Card Carrying Villains part of a bigger organization, and the monsters were created by the villains and never played a substantial role. Ryuki changes all that; it has a total of 13 Riders, with only two of them unambiguously good, with all the Riders being forced to fight each other or be killed by their Contract Monster, which is nothing more than a special Monster of the Week. The Big Bad works on his own and is revealed at the very end to be a tragic anti villain who only wants to protect his sister. And as for the eleven Riders who aren't straightforward heroes, while one is the classic Kamen Rider anti hero, the others vary from Well Intentioned Extremists to irredeemable sociopaths, with one of them being the codifier for evil Riders. The franchise picked up with these changes and added some more to later series, culminating in a deconstruction of Ryuki itself in Gaim.
    • Kamen Rider Gaim was the deconstructor for Ryuki and the following Heisei era shows. In addition to what Ryuki offered, the Heisei era also contains elements such as villains in a human disguise, Riders having a duty to fight for justice and always prevailing over evil Riders, who generally don't earn that many victories after their debut, and being Merchandise-Driven. Gaim increases the importance of the evil Riders, corrupts some of the more decent Riders, and generally paints the evil ones in a much more threatening light. But the real blow comes when the abuse of Lockseeds, which were made to be the Merchandise-Driven aspect of the show, causes disease to break out among civilians. Even worse, the monsters aren't disguising themselves as humans; instead, the monsters' home is turning humans into the mindless monsters, one of whom was the very first Monster of the Week and another being a depowered Rider. When the latter is killed, the Rider who did so gloated about how it was for justice, as it is a Rider's job, and knocked the protagonist out.
  • Seinfeld deconstructed the Sitcom, breaking with many conventions of the genre. Self-described as a series about nothing; neither a Dom Com, Kid Com nor a Work Com; which means no marriage, suburban family home, kids, workplace, or any other typical pre-Seinfeld sitcom settings. The title character exists in Real Life, and there is barely any continuous plot. Some Sitcom conventions remain, such as the Laugh Track. As many other sitcoms have followed the concept, Seinfeld became the Trope Namer of Seinfeld Is Unfunny.
  • Burn Notice is a subtle but fairly effective Deconstruction of Spy Fiction and Action Movie cliches. A common situation in Michael Westen's narration is describing a popular Spy-Fiction solution to a problem, and then promptly explaining why it wouldn't actually work. Escape through the air ducts? Nope. They're too small, they aren't designed to support that kind of weight and they're full of dangerous and nasty things like engines, dust, and vermin. Blowing up a gas tank with a well-placed pistol shot? Nope. A gunshot won't create a big enough spark on its own to ignite anything. Send an attractive woman to distract the guards? Nope; guards want an attractive woman to hang around, and you're gonna have to get her out of there somehow eventually. It's better to send someone loud and obnoxious. And of course, being a spy is nowhere near as glamorous as it sounds. As he mentions in the very first episode:
    Michael Westen: Being a spy is a lot like going to the dentist. You spend a lot of time waiting in small rooms, reading outdated magazines...and every so often someone tries to kill you.

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