The shape of stories

The AV Club article gives a straight to the point review of a lot of well-known secret agent television shows. It compares three different types of sub-genres in the secret agent genre: patriates, pragmatists, and the rogues. The patriate style of secret agent works to defeat the bad guy who is threatening the good old U S of A. They will do whatever it takes to defend our country. The pragmatist type of character takes matters into their own hands and beat the bad guy because they are bad, because it is the thing they need to do. The rogue secret agents are the ones who are going against some sort of authority, like the government, and try to figure out who is trying to get them and take them down and get away from that person or organization. This was a very interesting article and shows how this genre can be split into three groups.

I then watched an episode of the television show Get Smart. I watched season one episode two called Casino Evil found at In this episode the agency KAOS has a casino that it is using to take businessmen out of their companies which are weapons related. Zach Smart and Agent 66 decide to go undercover into the KAOS casino to stop the scam, which they do in the end and defeat KAOS’ operation.

After seeing a new type of secret agent story line I hadn’t seen before I decided to watch Kingsman: The Secret Service. This is one of my favorite non-James Bond secret agent movies so I was excited to have an excuse for watching it. I think it is really cool in this movie how you see Eggsy evolve from an average guy into this kick but agent. At one point he thinks he’s so bad he almost quits but thankfully her perseveres and sticks to it. I also love how Valentine is sort of this alternate villain. I don’t know about most but I sort of feel for the guy and almost like him at some points, lisp and all. But then you remember he got poor, sweet Harry Hart to kill a church full of people and you hate him. This movie takes a great comedic approach at the secret agent movie and it comes together so well in the end that it makes for a perfect movie.

In these two secret agent stories and in a few others I see the commonality of making fun of how easy it is to be a secret agent and how they always just know how to use their weapons and beat the villain. In Kingsman Eggsy doesn’t know squat about how to be a secret agent and you can see that play out in how the writers are sort of making fun with it. Another common theme I see is that the good guy always wins. No matter what the secret agent will beat the villain that’s just how it goes. The world would collapse and there would not be a good story line if the villain prevailed at the end of the move or show, it would just be a terrible ending.

Kurt Vonnegut talks about a basic story line where the character starts out then gets themselves into some form of trouble and then gets out of that situation. The next story shape he shows is where something great happens and then something happens to make the situation decline but then it gets remedied by the end of the story. The most popular story line he talks about is how the character starts in a hard spot and slowly they get better and better then it declines some and then it gets happier and the situation ends with the main character very happy. The first story shape Kurt Vonnegut talks about is the story shape of the Get Smart episode. The agents start out fine then get into the situation at the night club with KAOS and then the situation resolves itself and everything is better again. The story shape for Kingsman is the latter. Eggsy starts way down with no father and his mother is abused then he joins the Kingsman program and things start to pick up then Harry Hart dies and things get terrible for him again and then he defeats Valentine and he is the hero of the program and everything is great for him. In the end the bad guys are defeated by the secret agents and life for the agent goes back to its normal greatness in the case of agents like James Bond, or they get even better than they were before like Eggsy.

One Reply to “The shape of stories”

  1. I liked your summary of the Kingsman, and the movie was awesome. I chose the same movie for my post, and it was fun to watch the movie again. You could tell the actors had fun with it, but it also had serious moments as well.

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