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Joss Whedon's 'Much Ado' As Romantic Comedy And Cop Show

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If you all think back all the way to when I was in Toronto last fall, you'll recall I was very enamored with Joss Whedon's Much Ado About Nothing, the story of the bickering lovers Beatrice and Benedick. And now, months later, this morning, he was on Morning Edition to talk about it with NPR's Renee Montagne.

You perhaps know the story — how he shot it in less than two weeks after finishing the shooting part of his Avengers experience, how he shot it at home, how he used friends and actors he's worked with on his films and shows (including Amy Acker, Nathan Fillion, Fran Kranz and Alexis Denisof)

What I found most intriguing about it was that he discussed the fact that Beatrice and Benedick are the template for modern romantic comedy rooted in arguing — not just It Happened One Night, but Cheers and Moonlighting. In some of the most traditionally canonical art we have, you see the roots of some of the most well-worn tropes we have; high art helps create genre art just like high fashion helps create off-the-rack fashion.

He talks, too, about how the Dogberry scenes (featuring Fillion, who's very entertaining and perfect for this whole business) seem like precursors of what he references as the kinds of cop shows where guys remove their sunglasses before or after quipping — perhaps you're familiar with this phenomenon.

It's a charming visit with a very successful purveyor of popular entertainment who's attuned to a lot of connections between those forms and Shakespeare, and sometimes those connections go unrecognized when folks separate their viewing into high and low, guilty and pleasure.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Linda Holmes is a pop culture correspondent for NPR and the host of Pop Culture Happy Hour. She began her professional life as an attorney. In time, however, her affection for writing, popular culture, and the online universe eclipsed her legal ambitions. She shoved her law degree in the back of the closet, gave its living room space to DVD sets of The Wire, and never looked back.
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