Name: Cliche Love
Author: The Saminator
The story centres around Jessica, the new girl in a school with less than ten other students. She’s assigned a class and a best friend and begins to take classes like any normal girl would. But it seems she’s the only normal one there. Everyone else seems to know something that she doesn’t! Pretty soon, she’s drawn to the tanned and topless designated bad boy, Vlad. Little does she know that he’s had his eyes on her for some time now, and he’s ready to woo his lady.
Bad boys, mean girls, silent side-kicks, evil mothers and vampires. The only thing that’s missing from this little saga is a werewolf love triangle! But nevertheless, this story will scratch that cliche itch for the most generic Episode reader.
The spelling and grammar in this story are pretty sound, with the occasional slip-up like “Can I show you bad boy”, but every author has written and published a few lines like that! All-in-all, I didn’t notice any egregious errors when reading, which made the process so much more enjoyable for me when I went through this story. It’s rare to find a well-written story riddled with cliches, so that was a nice break from the mould that was definitely needed.
However, the punctuation was off at some points in the story. There are points when there are long blocks of dialogue with very little punctuation, which can confuse some people and make the story harder to read.
“My senior year at a new school and man was I in for one hell of a ride”.
This would have made a lot more sense with an extra comma or two. Maybe a dash. Then we’d be able to split up the dialogue and really get what she’s saying. As it stands, I had to read the line a few times to understand what was going on.
“My senior year at a new high school — and man, was I in for one hell of a ride.”
The good news is that there are way more lines with good punctuation than these slip ups. That means you aren’t pulled out of the action too much during the story. Still, I think the story would be a lot stronger if these were taken care of.
There is practically no diversity in this story. All of the main characters are white and able-bodied. I have no reason to believe that any of the characters are in the LGBTQ community, either. They all seem to come from the same area with the same background and they all seem to say the same kinds of things.
I can think of two people of colour (POCs) in the story. One of them is the silent sidekick of the mean girl and the other gets about three lines in total.
However, although this might be a problem for a lot of people, I believe that the author is making a point about the lack of diversity in the stories she’s parodying, so it works quite well. I think that the message needs to be a little more obvious, though. Maybe someone can comment on it? That would turn the commentary into a joke that everyone can laugh about (it’s funny because it’s true) and allow the readers to see that the author is aware of the diversity issues in the community.
The lines can feel a little stunted from time to time, but the comedy is there! The lines don’t really lead on from one another very well, but that could be another comment on other cliche stories on the Episode platform. To make that clear, I think it would be great for the author to use Jessica as an audience surrogate. We want to see our thoughts played out through her.
For example, her first conversation with Vlad moves from 1 to 100 very quickly, but Jessica goes along with it at the moment. He randomly asks if she has a boyfriend out of left field. The line could work really well! But in order to make that happen, we need to see Jessica say “woah! Where did that come from?” After all, she’s the only character who doesn’t know what’s going on! Show that by making her a normal girl who is out of her depths here.
The same applies to her saying she loves Vlad. There’s nothing wrong with making them fall in love so quickly in a three-chapter story! But the way to make it even funnier would be for her to talk about how she doesn’t know why she’s falling so fast. Then the reader would get to see the author’s commentary on how ridiculous it is for a character to fall so fast. It would work well to use Jessica to make a point in the story.
The story has a lot of promise, but I feel like the jokes can be a little too on-the-nose. Plus, the overarching joke of everyone knowing that they’re in a story seems to be a little muddled. Does Jessica know she’s in a story? With all the time she spends asking people what they mean, rolling her eyes and shrugging her shoulders, I’d be inclined to think that she doesn’t know but everyone else does. That’s an awesome idea! I love it! It gives the reader a chance to see all their thoughts about the silly tropes played out through Jessica. Plus, it gives us a sense of dramatic irony. She’s the only character who doesn’t know what’s going on!
But at the moment, this is getting lost. Sometimes she’s clueless and other times she comments on the story’s cliches and the fact that the author is too lazy to put other characters in the school hallway. That leaves the reader feeling confused. Does Jessica know what’s going on or not? If she doesn’t, why does she keep talking about a story, too?
I think this joke would work a lot better if the author really played up on how confused Jessica. She might think that Vlad is crazy because he believes he lives in a story. She should comment on how fast the romance is moving and talk about how weird everyone is acting instead of just rolling her eyes and shrugging. I really wanted to see the moment where she said “everyone keeps talking about a story! Am I being pranked?” At the moment, we just don’t get that an it comes across as muddled because of it. There’s a lot of comedy gold to be had by really playing up on the fact that she has no clue that she’s in a story!
There are some amazing lines that made me chuckle in the story, though. For example, when Jessica asks her designated best friend why Vlad is topless, the best friend replies “He’s a bad boy” in such a matter-of-fact way. The air quotes! The way the camera zooms in on her! It’s hilarious! There’s definitely no need to follow that up with “they don’t wear shirts” as it kills the joke just a little. However, the author is clearly a natural comedian who just needs a little time to develop her comedic style.
This is especially clear with how on-the-nose some of the lines are. The “we’re in a story and this is how we all need to act” lines are funny to start with, but they can get a little dry and repetitive when overused. The author could improve this by mixing things up a little. For example, with the henchman, instead of saying “this is a cliche story” once again, the author could instead use a line like “You didn’t get too attached to him, did you? You know what happens to henchmen in stories like this”. It keeps the same message, but ups the comedy massively.
Overall, Cliche Love has great potential to be a hilarious commentary on the other cliche stories on the Episode app. It’s very self-aware and has some amazing ideas, which is why I gave it a 6/10. However, the dialogues does need to be brushed up on a little bit to make the execution as good as the idea. We need an audience surrogate that can voice our thoughts in the story and give us the comedy we need. If those things were tweaked, this would be an 8/10 story easily!
It’s still definitely worth a read, though. The direction is good. The vampire running is hilarious. The intros fit the style of the story and work really well. It is an inspiring piece that has so much potential that it makes you want to write, too! It’s short and sweet and deserves every read it gets!