This is a new phrase I learned as part of my Master’s program, so now I’m using it at every single opportunity like I’m an expert in it, despite the fact that until about a week ago, I didn’t even know it existed.
Yeah, I’m that kind of irritating know-it-all.
Anywho, it mainly means this;
an unexpected power or event saving a seemingly hopeless situation, especially as a contrived plot device in a play or novel
As anyone who reads this blog knows, I dig soap operas. Well, mainly I dig English soap operas and Mexican telenovelas. And yes, a certain amount of deus ex machina is to be expected — but I don’t expect it when I’m dealing with a plotline that has been dragged out for months.
For example, the big reveal of the glove hand killer on Hollyoaks. For anyone who does watch the show SPOILER ALERT: it was recently revealed that Lindsey is the killer…and it made no fucking sense.
If you don’t watch the show, let me give you an analogy of why this reveal was so unreasonable.
It would be like me turning this blog into a site filled with poetry about my love of both veganism and gun control laws for no reason at all. One day, you’d tune into Essa on Everything, with its current sex dungeon vibe, the next, you’d be on Essa Loves Everything and it would be filled with Vegan recipes and angst filled poetry about my dad.
For no reason at all, it would be like I don’t even like sex dungeons anymore!
Look, I get it when someone suddenly gets amnesia, or they even have an evil twin. But I hate it when I become invested in a plot, and am forced to be proven wrong because a writer felt like phoning it in that day.
Remember Dallas? Remember the entire 9th season? If you don’t, it went like this.
- Major character died
- Viewers wept
- The entire season focused on people recovering from the loss of said major character
- Secondary character wakes up and – it was all a fucking dream.
This was not a clever twist. It was not a preplanned plot idea. It was a way to cram a character back into a script to revive ratings.
Even before I knew what deus ex machina was, I noticed. And if I, being of average intelligence noticed, that means everyone else noticed too. We notice lazy writing and it kind of pisses us off.
So I have a solution for deus ex machina that will work every single time. Whenever TV writers run out of ideas and have no way to tie up the plot, instead of forcing in a new character reveal or doing a 180 to someone’s personality, go all in on the deus ex machina.
Kill everyone off in an explosion and start over.
It would work like this
Everyone already knows who the serial killer is and you want to make the ending surprising anyway?
Completely run out of ideas for a show and you’re thinking about having a character jump a shark on a motorcycle?
You killed off a beloved character and now ratings are dropping?
BOOM!…and then start the show over in heaven.
Whatever you need to do, just stop making me invest my time in deus ex machina. If I wanted a shitty ending, I would have written it myself.