Here's The Formula For Every Group Of Characters In Pop Culture
Once you know about this pattern, you'll see it everywhere.
Mitchell Hurwitz, the creator of Arrested Development, has said in many interviews that he created the Bluth siblings based on the paradigm of "matriarch, patriarch, craftsman, and clown."
Hurwitz explained the meaning of the archetypes in terms of the characters on The Golden Girls, a show he wrote for early in his career.
You can see the same pattern in many other stories focused on a central quartet. Sex and the City has pretty much the same dynamic as Golden Girls.
And so does Girls, though the more sexual character Jessa plays the role of the craftsman, and the naïf, Shoshanna, is played as the clown.
Seinfeld follows the pattern too, though Hurwitz notes that the craftsman isn't quite who you'd expect. "Kramer's the craftsman because he's on a track," he says. "He's serious and focused on things."
Similarly, Jenna on 30 Rock is the clown and Tracy is the craftsman, as he is often the unlikely voice of reason on the show and has more dignity than Jenna.
Some casts have multiple characters filling the same role. Friends has two sets of craftsmen and clowns.
And It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia has two clowns.
Many family sitcoms, like The Simpsons, follow this pattern in a fairly literal way, with one serious child and one silly child.
Once you know the set of archetypes, you start seeing it everywhere. Like Buffy the Vampire Slayer...
The Plastics in Mean Girls...
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles...
...and the original version of Star Trek.
The Breakfast Club is a good example of a story in which a lot of the tension comes from a rivalry over the patriarch role.
Superhero teams are usually built around this pattern too, most obviously with the Fantastic Four...
...and the core group of The Avengers.
The classic '70s version of the X-Men followed this pattern, with Wolverine and Cyclops competing for the patriarch role.
The core group of the Justice League has another dual patriarch rivalry between Superman and Batman.
The cast of Star Wars allows some characters to play different roles. Luke is usually a craftsman, though sometimes he's the second patriarch.
The crew of the Millennium Falcon through most of The Empire Strikes Back follows the paradigm perfectly, though.
The pattern emerges in real life too, and very often in bands. The Beatles are a perfect example.
And so is Led Zeppelin...
It's also the dynamic of the original American Idol.
So if this pattern emerges in regular life, which role do you think you play in your friends groups?
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