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  • Writer's pictureBrittany Brinegar

You Say Dated, I Say Nostalgic

Updated: Nov 23, 2022

"Television has brought murder back into the home where it belongs." ~ Alfred Hitchcock

For today's Tea V Talk, I'm doing something a little different. Instead of talking about one specific show, I want to discuss television in general. So buckle up, I have no idea where we're going.

As y'all know, my writing style is heavily influenced by my love of television and I pepper my books with pop culture references. I grew up on Gilmore Girls after all where talking fast is a requirement! I love rapid dialog, banter, and witty characters. And that's the type of heroes and villains I try to write.

Recently a reviewer commented on my style and said it wasn't for her. Understandable. You can't please everyone. But it got me thinking.

She said my book had way too much pop culture and that it would be dated in a few years. Respectfully, I disagree.

Here's why - my references are already "dated". No, they are!

I watch and rewatch old shows. I Love Lucy, Bewitched, I Dream of Jeanie, Mary Tyler Moore, Newhart, Cheers, Frasier, Wings, Seinfeld, The Nanny, King of Queens, Everybody Loves Raymond, Friends, The Office, The Middle... And those are just the sitcoms. The newest show on my list ended five years ago. These references are dated. And yet because of streaming, some of these shows are more popular than ever.

I Love Lucy has never been off the air. It invented the concept of reruns and it is still relevant today. When I mention chocolate on a conveyor belt or stomping grapes, I bet you smile.

I believe that classic television never turns sour. A program from the 80s becomes nostalgic. Sure we laugh at their car phones and their parachute pants but we also appreciate the jokes that were written 40 years ago. Because they are still funny today.

I'm sure many of you have eclectic tastes. You read in different genres and you watch different programs. I do too.

I can go from watching a Hallmark movie to X-Files without missing a beat. Today I watched Survivor and Downton Abbey. Not a lot of crossover there.

Watching and reading different genres sparks creativity. As a writer, I try to offer something for everyone. Some of my references are obscure and some are over-explained (usually by Lois) but the hope is that there are enough sprinkled throughout to amuse all my readers.

What I realized from this reviewer's comment is that my pop culture references are perfectly on-brand with my Hollywood Whodunit series. Becky Robinson dreams of becoming an actress. She lives and breathes this world and her character reflects that.

When Becky is accused of murder in book 1, her alibi was she was home binging The Office. She names her dog Lorelai Gilmore. And to solve the murder she asks what would Rick Castle do. And all this happens within the first half of the first book.

When I first started writing I worried about the number of pop culture references. What if people miss the joke because they don't know this show or movie? But then I heard an interview with Amy Sherman-Palladino, the creator of Gilmore Girls.

I don't remember the exact quote, so I'll paraphrase. They asked her about dumbing down scripts so more people could enjoy the show. She said viewers are smart. They want to be challenged not patronized.

This idea stuck with me. When I watched Gilmore Girls for the first time, I missed a lot of the references. I didn't know who the Menendez Brothers were and why Lorelai told Rory to act civil at her grandparents and on the way home she could pull a Menendez. On the second watch, I caught on. Even today on my 500th watch I learn something new. You don't have to understand every joke to love the show.

As I developed my voice, I learned to never underestimate my audience. Mystery readers are smart. Y'all see plot twists coming and you appreciate it when an author gets the better of you.

I love when a reader tells me that they never suspected so and so was the killer. And I equally love when they tell me they figured out whodunit. Both scenarios mean that I'm doing my job.

Perhaps I would appeal to a broader audience if I toned down my pop culture references. Just as likely though, I might lose so of my best fans.

My loyal readers are proof that an audience exists. Finding you people is the difficult part. You're too distracted watching reruns of Friends to tackle that TBR pile.

"People either have comedy or they don’t. You can’t teach it to them." ~ Lucille Ball

Can't wait to read rapid-fire banter and nostalgic pop culture references?

Click the link below to explore my library.

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