Hey guys! Gogogadget831 here, and welcome to Total Drama Theory, where I talk about a certain aspect of Total Drama and elaborate my thoughts on that aspect (I will be doing these from time to time). And yes, this is a blog about Mike. Before you guys go up on arms, let me just say that this blog is not intended to defend Mike. And for good reason too. And I am going to say that I do like the character. I've already emphasized the main reason why I like Mike on many blogs.
However, even though I like him, obviously, he has very serious flaws that have made him one of the most controversial and hated characters of the entire show. I do hate the way that he was used throughout the series and the TDAS finale really broke the camel's back. I mean, if the writers wanted to use a character with a mental or physical disability, that is totally fine, but they need to DO IT AS AN ADULT. And the way that they used Mike here was absolutely childish and downright offensive to those suffering from MPD and other disorders. I don't hate the character itself. I just hate the way he was portrayed. Mike had a lot of potential, but the writers blew it big time. However, recently, I've been thinking about what could have been done to make the character better. And YES, there was the option of completely removing the character, but I do think he had some potential of being a fairly good character.
With that said, here are my ideas of how Mike could have been portrayed as a better character. This blog will be fairly lengthy and will go into some discussion of the ideas. Without further ado, let's get started:
1. TELL A STORY
This is probably the most important part of writing a character like Mike: ACTUALLY TELLING A STORY. And this story is his backstory of his personal life. I read a few online articles about Multiple Personality Disorder and I recall that these alternate personalities can come from past trauma, hidden memories, and some forms of emotional distress. Yes, I know that Total Drama is not quite the place for aspects like child abuse and things like that. But you can make it more simplistic and make it deal with other issues that appeal to kids and teens. The main problem in the show is how Mike's personalities were portrayed. The main use of them in the show was for comic relief and for creating tension between Mike and Zoey's relationship. How did these personalities develop? Where did they come from? Well, I did have a few ideas for how they could have developed. For example, what if Mike had a grandfather that he was really close with? What if his grandfather passed away? Mike could have gone through a very depressing time in his life and to take refuge from his distress, Chester could have been developed as a result. And what if Svetlana was based on one of Mike's previous crushes? She could have been an international student and she could have interacted prominently with Mike during their time together in school. Mike could have had a secret crush on her and just when he was about to reveal his feelings for her, she suddenly had to go back to her hometown (Russia, Sweden?). He could have gotten through another depression and as a result of that distress, Svetlana could have become a personality. And maybe for Vito and Mal, Mike could have had a really terrible past experience with bullies and it felt like the universe was out to get him. Vito and Mal could have developed from those experiences. I'm not too sure how Manitoba would develop, but you get my point!
Adding onto the story element, another problem with Mike in the show is that he is bland and boring without his personalities. Almost all the time, we don't really see Mike. We always see the personalities that are often used for entertainment and comedy purposes. What is the real Mike like? We know that he's an oddball and he loves action movies, but that's about it! The writers really missed out on a good opportunity to develop Mike. It would be cool if we got to see his tough side or his insecure side. He needs to have more dimension in his personality, outside from his alternate personalities. Most humans have multiple dimensions to their personalities. They can seem really tough with a soft side. They can be really smart or athletic people under a lot of pressure. 'The Breakfast Club' does a GREAT job of executing the characters and adding dimensions to them (check out the movie by the way). And I believe that Total Drama should do the same with all of their characters. On the show itself, Mike didn't have any dimensions outside from his personalities. What exactly is the original Mike like, outside from being an oddball and MPD? Is he an athlete? A musician? An aspiring actor? My point is, I think Mike could've been a better character if he had been something outside from his MPD. This would have made his character much more interesting. And also, I would not make him too dependent on Zoey. I would have given him more time for his individual character development and seeing how he can develop his strengths and personalities on his own. I'm not too sure how we could execute this, but there are many different directions they can go with this.
I know I'm rambling on and on here, but my main point is that Mike could have been a much better character if there was more story to him. This includes the REAL Mike's true personality, his backstory, and his life as well. Yeah, I know you can't tell his entire story in a 22 minute episode and in 13 episodes, as other characters need focus too. But, at least snippets of his life could have been mentioned in confessional scenes or even in 'Truth of Lazer Shark' or when he's interacting with Zoey. That would have worked. Also, more facts about Duncan and Mal's past interactions could have been mentioned to create more tension in TDAS. In the actual season, it was just stated by Duncan and never talked about again, making that scene very pointless. Okay, I've rambled on and on about the story. On to number 2...
2. Do Not Make Mike A Liar
Another flaw in TDROTI is that annoying plotline when Mike kept on lying to Zoey about his personalities and claiming they were part of an "act". And even after all those lies, Zoey still managed to hook up with him in the end. Even though I am happy that they hooked up in the end, I was really, really annoyed by this. Okay, if you want to win your crush over, you have to learn to respect them and be honest with them. If you aren't going to be honest in them, you're not going to have a trustful relationship. And if you're not going to have a trustful relationship, your relationship is going to fall apart. I understand that Mike cannot control his personalities and things like that, but it's just so wrong of him to keep fibbing to Zoey and even hurting her feelings when becoming Vito or Manitoba. It just makes him come off as a despicably unlikeable liar. If I were in a relationship and my partner was this deceitful to me, I would have ended the relationship right there.
Here is how I would have fixed this situation: I would have made Mike more open and honest to Zoey. Basically, what I would have done is starting from the first episode, Mike would suddenly change into all of his alternate personalities at some point in time. And Zoey, whom he is 'just friends' with at the time, asks him why he is changing into all of these characters. Mike then reveals that they are personalities, reveals his MPD, and confesses that he has a very hard time controlling them and could really use some help. Zoey then agrees to help him out throughout the season up until one of them gets eliminated. Mike (as Vito) still flirts and cuddles with Anne Maria, which does make Zoey a bit jealous inside, but she still feels determined to help Mike out. They continue to become friends throughout the season and eventually, they start to fall in love and up until one of them gets eliminated, Mike would NOT have gotten rid of his personalities, but would have found some way of controlling them. Zoey would then be proud of him, Mike would thank her for everything, and then they reveal their feelings for one another. I think that if Mike's plot structure would have gone something like this, then his tough side and personality would have developed really well and he would have a newfound sense of courage and assertiveness, making for some great character development. In addition, Mike and Zoey starting off as friends and then eventually falling in love would have made for much better character and relationship development rather than being too forced and even strained by Mike's lying.
3. Portray the Personalities in a More Mature Manner
Another major problem with TDROTI and TDAS is the way the personalities are all portrayed. The only purposes that the personalities serve in the show are for major comic relief and as an excuse to create tension between Mike and Zoey. Okay, MPD is not supposed to be a joke. It's supposed to be a disability to be taken seriously. 'The United States of Tara' did a great job of portraying MPD. But why can't this? All that his personalities do is try imitating stereotypes and yammer and goof around all the time and there doesn't seem to be too much in depth with them. It is okay to add a few jokes to the personalities from time to time, but there ought to be more seriousness in this situation. Mike's frustration and determination to control his personalities is a good example of seriousness and makes for some good internal drama. His insecurity is another good example. Zoey trying to help Mike is another good example. And as I mentioned earlier above, backstories are also great ways of portraying this manner realistically. Some jokes are okay as long as the overall aspect of Mike's MPD is taken more seriously and realistically. And I think the series really went overboard with the comedy aspect. And don't even make me get started with the reset button...okay, calm down Gogogadget... save that for later...Okay, number 4!
4. Make Mal a Better Villain
I'm sure a lot of people can agree that Mal was a very disappointing villain overall and that the writers basically dumbed down all the characters, making Mal look like the more supreme one. You mean the 'most supreme overlord of the universe' who just breaks stuff, whistles, laughs evilly, and plays pranks on people? Not to mention that he only got one person eliminated (Courtney doesn't really count since she was going to get eliminated either way). Seriously, Mal was such a lame villain. He could have been a much more devious villain. There were so many different ways that could have been executed and the writers chose to do that in a really stupid and disappointing way. They should make Mal more sinister. He doesn't have to be like Frollo, but at least make him more demented. The reasons why Heather and Alejandro worked really well as villains were that they had very clear goals: they wanted to win the game and do whatever it takes to win. And they did this by setting up clever strategies, sabotaging many of the contestants, and getting them booted off. Mal, on the other hand, does not have any strategies at all. All he really did was break stuff. And he didn't really seem to care about the million dollars anyway. The writers should have used some characteristics of Heather and Alejandro for him. He would manipulate people like Alejandro did to Bridgette and Leshawna while setting up clever strategies to score victories for himself. They could have even done what they did to Scarlett. The writers could have maybe made all the contestants unaware of what Mal is strategizing and then after a particular incident, the ultimate revelation of Mike as Mal would have taken place. Like I said, there were so many ways that the writers could have made Mal a great villain, but they failed to pull them off effectively and everything fell apart very badly. Alright, last but not least, number 5...
5. Make a More Epic Ending/Confrontation with Mal
Okay, it's time for the big one...the ending to the TDAS finale. I have repeatedly said that the TDAS finale was the worst episode in the whole series because of the balloons, the reset button, the poorly written climax, and the destruction of Camp Wawanakwa. And I do agree that the reset button was the main plot device that broke the camel's back big time. It was a very offensive resolution to the defeat of Mal and the worst possible way to portray MPD. It would be nice if all disabilities and disorders could be cured with reset buttons, but sadly, that's not the way life works. You can't just push a button and expect to get rid of your disorder. Yes, you can get treatment and outgrow it. But no matter what, at least a part of your disorder is going to be a part of you. That is something that you can't control and that you have to take what you get. And the way that Mike got rid of it with the push of a button was absolutely horrible and unrealistic.
Here's my idea of how this could have been done: suppose that we are at the part where Mal jumps on top of Zoey. They both would land hard on the ground, but Mal lands on his head, getting knocked out. Zoey then freaks out and worries about 'Mike's' well-being. Then, Mal gets knocked into Mike's head, where Mike and his personalaties are. It's time for the ultimate show-down, but Mike decides to take down Mal on his own. They both find swords and they have this epic swordsfight that is similar to Hamlet. They both fight brutally for control (not much blood or anything, but maybe some light cuts). Then, in the end, Mike disarms Mal and pushes him down a deep hole below. Mike and his personalities then lock up the hole tightly in hopes that Mal would never come out again. Mike then wakes up and apologizes to Zoey and everyone about what Mal did and does fear that Mal would one day come back and if he did, he would need help in controlling that. Zoey nevertheless accepts him for who he is and they reunite and all that good stuff. If the writers went with that approach or something similar, this finale would have definitely been more watchable.
And that was 'Total Drama Theory: How Would I Improve Mike?' edition! Let me know your thoughts and your feedback. And if you disagree with any of my thoughts, it's perfectly fine (as long as you're polite about it). But anyways, let me know what you guys think! Thanks for reading this blog! Gogogadget831, out!