Indications of this to me are as follows:
- In the past, when someone tossed their cookies, we heard a coughing sound and the person dived down out of camera range to spare us the ugly spewing process. Now, we need to see the liquid pouring from people's mouths. This isn't just in movies but in prime time television shows. I think we all know what it looks like to barf and don't need a vivid reminder. I shudder to think what sort of normally-hidden-bathroom-behavior we're going to have to watch next.
- "If he dies, you die." If there is a doctor and a person with a gun, it's irresistible for writers not to use that line. The idea is that the gunman is always irrational and feels it necessary to state this despite the fact that anyone with two brain cells to rub together knows a doctor who is trying to save any sort of adversary or enemy in such a situation will do his or her best. Besides the fact that this line is greatly over-used, the person who fails to save the friend doesn't die when the patient dies so it's all rather pointless.
- I don't know if these sorts of commercials air in the United States but some time back advertisers in Japan decided that any drink commercial has to show someone downing the showcased beverage accompanied by a disgusting, loud, overly-exaggerated gulping noise. I neither associate this horrible sound effect with enjoyment nor require an audio sample of what it sounds like to swallow amplified by the equivalent of a digital blowhorn.
- Breasts and beverages. Breasts and cars. Breasts and tools. Breasts and whatever item are being marketed at males. In this day and age, how many pathetic loser men believe that buying the socket wrenches will also bring delivery of the babe standing next to them? Are men really that easily manipulated and gullible or do advertisers just like to continue to think they are rather than design imaginative ad campaigns?
- The fantasy doctor who spends extra time with his or her patients doing the jobs that only nurses do in real life like blotting their feverish brows. Isn't it fantasy enough that doctors in entertainment series (with the exception of House) care about their patients and actually talk to them about their lives and show interest in them as people? I've rarely met a doctor in real life who has regarded me as anything more than a piece of meat in need of curing.
- Children who undergo accelerated growth. Back when I was in university, I spent some of my summer doing what a lot of people my age did during the afternoon. I watched soap operas. One thing you learned quickly is that kids grew up fast on soap operas. A pregnancy may gestate for over a year as the storyline around it unfolded at a leisurely pace but a kid generally grew to pre-teen in about 3 years and fully-grown early adulthood in no more than 6 years. Their parents, of course, aged normally. This little hack-writing chestnut lives today in science fiction as a way of getting around the nuisance of having to write about people who have kids in any credible way. This also allows them to trot out some oedipal weirdnesses in the storylines. The rather bad and short-lived "V" T.V. series played both these cards when they had the star-child off-spring of a reptilian visitor and a human hibernate in a cocoon and come out all pretty and grown up. She then competed with her mommy for the affection of the shows young beef-cake character (young accelerated growth child is always attractive and always gets the love interest). I saw a repeat of this situation in "Angel" when his infant son was kidnapped and spirited away to another dimension where time passed more quickly. He came back a whiny 17-year-old who banged his father's love interest and impregnated her with his demon love baby. Said baby also skipped the growth process by springing from the womb a full-grown woman. Most recently, I've seen this sort of rapid growth occur with baby Isabel (I'm a few seasons behind, folks) on "The 4400". During the entire time I was watching the second season, I was saying to myself, 'please don't succumb to the accelerated growth storyline,' but the writers couldn't resist. Pregnancy apparently makes for a great story but kids are just a pain to deal with once they're out of the womb. They either magically fade into background accessories (like on "Friends" and "Murphy Brown") or they grow up freakishly fast. I wish writers would simply not have people get pregnant if they can't credibly write storylines once the babies are born.
- Computer nerds who dress in a stylishly dorky way and wear variations on horn-rim glasses and/or hot, slightly wacky-looking geek girls with mad skills at the computer. Real dorks and dorkettes don't look like this and even when they do, they don't transform into very attractive people once the glasses come off and the hairstyle and clothing style change. It's almost like they doubt our intelligence as viewers sufficiently that they have to push these stereotypes in front of us as a way of flashing a "geek character" sign in front of us. I do, however, have to give credit to "24" which avoided this stereotype and showed the computer literate types as normal people.
- Pocahontas syndrome. I name this syndrome not for the real situation with Pocahontas but the one white people like to imagine. In what I'm sure is a historically inaccurate situation, Pocahontas is young, beautiful, desirable and speaks English perfectly and wants nothing more than to show all the palefaces safe passage through Indian territories. In television and movies, every time the hero finds himself in a strange culture where he can't speak the language, an attractive woman steps out and announces she can speak his language and serves as his guide. In many cases, the woman ends up the love interest. I think any writer who falls back on this hackneyed means of getting a character through an alien place should be dropped into the middle of rural China and see how many beautiful, helpful, perfect-English speaking women step up to make his life easy.
- People who pine for each other but avoid hooking up for artificially constructed reasons. I'd blame the X-Files for this but they were hardly the first to indulge in this sort of long-term tease. It gets old very fast, particularly when the reason is unbelievable or absurd.