The Vagaries of Brennan

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The Vagaries of Brennan

Post by Jude40 »

Hi everyone

The idea for this thread came from the same chat discussions as the idea for Jenny's thread and basically its about how some of the things said and done in the show (sticking with Brennan centric stuff at least to begin with) could be deemed offensive or irritating.

Before I start I'd just like to say that I love the character of Brennan on the whole and have a hell of a lot of time for Emily Deschanel but there are times when Brennan's actions are really over the top.

Her personality veers all over the place from being someone who reads stories to her niece and comforts children in 'The Boy in the Bush' and 'The Soccer Mum in the Minivan' to someone who doesn't seem to have a clue about children especially with the way she spoke to Booth about Parker in 'The Bones that Blew' .

I know we're supposed to think that her childhood made her that way but as far as I can tell, up to the age of fifteen, she had a really happy, normal childhood and I realise being in care would have an effect but its not like she didn't have an understanding of a happy childhood which from what I can tell cannot be said for Booth incidentally.

I also find it really irritating that she constantly uses that catchphrase 'I don't know what that means' to do with pop culture. This is a woman in her thirties who writes popular fiction and apparently has been into Smurfs and Wonder Woman, oh and who knew who Stewie was (I actually didn't know that before CitC). This whole awareness issue is used as an excuse for her saying anything she wants to anyone without any care for the consequences.

And here is the real issue I am taking about, this is a woman who is scared of being hurt but thinks nothing of:

- Telling witnesses/complete stangers that they need to lose weight.
- Likening God to a serial criminal.
- Decrying the muslim religion.
- Treating every intern like something nasty she just stood in (at least initially)
- Calling one of her best friends stupid and basically infering that he is inferior.


- thinking about it, basically decrying every religion.

These are just a few things. Quite a few of the things that she says and does, particularly with regards to religion and peoples physical appearance could be taken as seriously offensive and we were discussing earier about how she would relate to a bi polar intern.

I actually don't really get offended but I do get irritated by the fact that the writing is so inconsistent and some of the stuff that goes on changes Brennan from an interesting and watchable character to someone annoying and really OTT. They are just my thoughts though so over to everyone else....

Jude x
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Re: The Vagaries of Brennan

Post by brooke34 »

Hey, Jude? (Sorry, I know you must hear that a lot)

:clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap:

:dance: :dance: :dance: :dance: :dance: :dance: :dance: :dance:

THANK YOU!!!!!!!

God, exactly.

Wanna get married? :lol:

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Re: The Vagaries of Brennan

Post by Jude40 »

Hi all

I see you agree Hillarie! Don't get me wrong I do totally get that Brennan's character is meant to be quite blunt and says what she thinks but there is still a line that any reasonably intelligent person would know not to cross and crossing that is just nasty. I am completely certain that Brennan is not intended to be nasty.

You know what's really annoying though is that when Brennan is funny without meaning to be Emily is totally brilliant at playing her she deadpans soooo well. She's also brilliant at the emotional stuff, she had me in tears when she was looking at that video of her mother speaking to her and it was painful (in a good way) to watch her struggling in 'The Girl in the Fridge' so it just doesn't fit that the character can be so flippant and hurtful. That's a writing problem rather than an acting problem though, although I find it hard to believe that someone who comes across as intelligent, caring and strong willed in the way that Emily does would not have her say.

One thing I will say though, it will be interesting to see how this argument with Angela that's planned for S5 affects Brennan.

Anyway that's it for now I think, btw Hillarie yea I do get Hey Jude all the time especially coming from Liverpool but its kinda cool.

Catch you later

Jude x
Last edited by Jude40 on Fri Aug 14, 2009 4:22 am, edited 1 time in total. word count: 248

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Re: The Vagaries of Brennan

Post by ThyneAlone »

You're right, Jude; it's a complaint many have had in the past, I've seen it on forums all over the place.

Above all, Brennan is intelligent. Now I am aware that this is in a specific context, not a social one, and that she is naive about the way others feel; empathy is not her thing. Fine. But her knowledge about societies and customs all over the world is so huge! How is the woman who knows how to show immaculate courtesy towards an Oriental visitor and argues that we need to accept the driving forces of other cultures (voodoo would be a good example, even though she doesn't hold with it) unable to grasp that it is the Western custom not to make wounding comments about other peoples' appearance or habits? She might not be cognisant of the fact that she is hurting people, but surely she 'knows the drill'? How is it that she is aware of the vagaries and beliefs of civilisations and doesn't know anything about our pop culture - except when it suits the writers to claim that, oh yes, she has heard of this genre of music, or this actor, or this children's TV programme?

I don't fully understand the relationship between Angela and Brennan. Angela seems to go a lot further than halfway in the effort at mutual comprehension. Brennan has never given her one piece of useful advice, nor taken any offered by Angela. They don't understand each others' motivations - how do they actually relate to one another, connect?
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Re: The Vagaries of Brennan

Post by Jude40 »

I see where you're coming from about the Brennan/Angela friendship Steph, and if I was Angela I would definitely have given Brennan a piece of my mind on several occasions (it seems that may be what happens this season).

However, and this is what I mean by inconsistancies, in 'The Skull in the Desert' Brennan dropped everything and went to Angela and actually showed a lot of empathy, in fact she was like a completely different person, go figure!

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Re: The Vagaries of Brennan

Post by Sinkwriter72 »

Good point, Jude. I was just about to pop in and remind Steph about "Skull in the Desert." (I've been watching my Season 1 DVDs this week, including that episode, so it's definitely fresh in my mind.) :D

While it seems there are plenty of times that Angela has the patience of a saint in dealing with Brennan's quirks and insensitivities (and I'll be very curious to see that argument between them, if that's the cause and Angela hits a final straw in dealing with Brennan's behavior), there are a few rare occasions when Brennan is the one to do or say something to help Angela. "Skull in the Desert" is an excellent example. Not only does she drop everything to go and help her friend, and call in her FBI partner to help her as well, she offers Angela comfort throughout the episode during times when Angela needs it. She offers her a hug and these words: "I'm sorry that my friend is upset because someone she loves is missing." She breaks the news to her that Kirk was murdered, and is gentle in her questioning (as is Booth). Brennan soothes her when Angela frets over the unconventionalness of her romantic arrangement with Kirk, telling her it's not typical but it's more than Brennan has ever had. And at the end, when Angela worries that she'll never find love like that again, that her chance for it has passed her by, Brennan uses science to point out that it's inevitable that Angela will get another chance ("nothing in the universe happens just once..."). And she reiterates it in a softer way, promising "From my head. And yes, Ange, I promise -- from my heart. You will get another chance."

It's such a beautiful episode for those two characters, really demonstrates the friendship that is possible between the two of them. Though, of course, they are such different creatures that disagreements and differences are bound to occur, so I'm surprised an argument hasn't come up before this. But Angela usually cuts Brennan off and forgives her and nudges her to realize her insensitivities, rather than getting angry with her friend. Perhaps this time around Brennan's going to say something that hurts too much for Angela to brush off and dismiss as "that's just Brennan."

As for the topic of Brennan in general... great points made all around, especially about the problem with inconsistencies for the character. She's not heard of the Grinch or Dr. Seuss -- and how is that possible? Her parents were around until she was 15; they had to teach her how to read with something! Dr. Seuss is classic! -- but she knows other big names and programs? Actors and music? Enough cultural ease to be able to write a commercial, best-selling novel? Steph makes excellent points about the problems with making her so clueless about her own behaviors and the general niceties of social customs, when she's supposed to be an examiner of societal mores, behaviors, traditions and cultures. Perhaps they were trying to soften her character by making it all about how she doesn't really mean to behave that way, that she just doesn't know any better. That way the viewers wouldn't despise her character and not want to watch the program.

Unfortunately, the writers are forgetting their own character developments because there was a time when Brennan was learning. There were episodes when we saw her behave with compassion and empathy. "A Boy in a Bush" and "Boy in the Shroud" -- both examples of times when Brennan bonded touchingly with foster kids or kids who were stuck in troubling family situations. She knew just the right thing to say to the genius scientist whose son had been kidnapped, in order to get him to put his gun down and think rationally, in "Woman in the Car." She figured out how to be gentle with the young suspect in "Girl with the Curl," to get her to tell them what she'd done, that it was an accident, that she didn't mean to kill that other little girl. And the example Steph provided with the episode this season, involving the Japanese cop (?) friend of Booth, how Brennan knew just how to behave, knew all about the customs and traditions that needed to be respected, even if they weren't her own. And she'd been showing plenty of growth when it came to joining in on interrogations and helping Booth get the information they needed. She was starting to form a sharp eye, she was starting to watch Booth and learn from his example. And even though there were (and are) bound to be times when she forgets or still puts her foot in her mouth (as we all sometimes do), we could see her minute changes from episode to episode as she learned to hold her tongue and not immediately tell the victim's family way too much about the hideous details of their loved one's death. She was learning to word it more gently, and omit things that were too painful. She was learning!

And then it all stopped. Season 4 didn't revert Brennan back to previous behaviors; instead, I feel like they've altered her radically to the point of not even being the woman she was in Season 1! Now it's like she's almost completely clueless! For example, Booth needing to tell her not to smile at a funeral? That's not comedy, that's character assasination. I feel like they've stunted Brennan's growth because they're afraid to take her too far away from the person she was at the start of the show. Like Hart once said in an interview, when asked if we'd see Brennan develop more in Season 5, "What? You want the show to be over?" A flippant, meant-to-be-a-joke sort of comment, but still... it says a lot about how they see their job when it comes to presenting and developing these characters. It's like they think the show is done if she's changed enough to not be the person she was in the beginning, but that's not true. People always have things to learn, and they always have times when they put their foot in it or mess up or make mistakes, even when the majority of the time they've learned from past behaviors and grown from their experiences. I'd rather they continue to develop her character the subtle way they had been. I don't want them to mess around with her character, forcing her into various behaviors just to fit the situation, and then do a quick 180 with her character when they decide the show is over, and say, there, now she's fully developed. Even if it means she's become something she's not, in order for them to call her 'fully developed.' That's not good.

It's just so frustrating to watch because it doesn't seem like they want her to move forward. They don't seem to want to do the work that comes from allowing her character to develop in a natural, understandable, real way, even if it means she becomes someone seemingly different than originally planned.

In contrasting approach, I think about the character Aeryn Sun in the show Farscape. She started out in the first episode as this hard, loyal to her superiors, unemotional, badass warrior. However, over the course of the series (four seasons), we see her develop into this beautifully complex character. At the end, she's still a brave, badass warrior -- the essence of her doesn't go away -- but by that point we've seen subtle changes in her that make her so much more than she was in the beginning. She has learned so many things, she has given up so much, she has been challenged, she has had great love, she has had great loss, and while she oftentimes deals with it stoicly, we start to see undercurrents of emotion that prove she's changing. The times when she does express herself or allow for tears or give a little more than she normally would, we see the amazing shifts occuring within her, the minute changes that make her more interesting and well-rounded. The writers never force her backwards to the point where it makes no sense. She might revert to the stoic behaviors she knows or feels most comfortable with, every once in a while, to protect herself or push someone away, but she never goes backwards or out of character. By the end of the series, she's developed so much that her newer behaviors make complete sense, because of what she's been through, but the oldest traits are still there, the essence of her character is still real and honest and seeable. She's changed in so many ways, but she still maintains the strengths that made her interesting in the first place.

In my opinion, when it comes to writing Brennan (and Booth and all the other characters and their individual stories, for that matter), Hart and his writing staff could learn a thing or two from that example.
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Re: The Vagaries of Brennan

Post by kayleigh_marie »

I agree with you to a point. However, I think that Brennan, no matter her upbringing would have always been, well, cold. I think she just approaches everything from such an educated standpoint, and finds facts so comfortable, that she doesn't see how she thinks as being cold or rude.
"Anthropologically speaking..." being a very commonly used sentence starter, in my mind, infers her thought processes very clearly. She doesn't think from her 'heart', as it's just a muscle and cannot be used like your brain, she says, instead thinking from a completely detached, third-party place.
I have come to love this about her, as I'm sure many people have. And I don't see that her relationship with any of her friends/colleagues would be remotely similar to what it is if she were to let her emotions rule her thought processes and actions.

In my mind, that made sense. Ha. Sometimes, I don't know.
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Re: The Vagaries of Brennan

Post by boo »

In my opinion, Brennan is the most boring character on the show. I could easily skip her scenes. She was more interesting in the first season, heck in the first episode, then she has been of late. And I agree, the whole, "Oh .. I'm a super genius, I don't get it," gag is waayyy old. She's the stupidest smart person, alive. Smart people learn. They don't have to be told and retold and retold .. they learn. Especially anthroplogists who supposedly care about societies and their cultural norms.

On another message board I read that she is supposedly exactly like the woman she was modeled after. The poster had seen her in an interview and said she was just as clueless as Brennan.
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