Shannen Doherty Saved the Cat

by Kelly Boyce

I’ve been reading Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat, a great book on plotting your screenplay, or in my case book, that shows you how to ‘beat’ out your story and ways to develop characters, etc. It’s a great book and if anyone writes, whether its screenplays or books, I’d highly recommend it.

What does any of this have to do with Shannen Doherty you may ask? Well let me tell you…

First off, I have to say I have never liked Shannen Doherty. Wait, scratch that. I remember being okay with her way back when she co-starred in the family television drama Our House with Wilford Brimley. But once we hit the Beverley Hills 90210 days, I was definitely in the “I hate Shannen Doherty” camp. I may have even cheered when her character was bumped off on Charmed.

Okay, maybe hate is a strong word, but it was definitely more than a strong dislike. I bought into the notion she was a raving bitch who made horrific choices in men (Ashley Simpson? Rick Saloman??) and alienated everyone around her. How much of that was true (aside from the horrific choices in men – did I mention Rick Saloman??) who knows.

When I heard Shannen Doherty was going to be on Dancing With the Stars, I thought, ‘Now this I gotta see’. Normally I don’t watch DWTS because it falls during the same timeslot as House, but oftentimes I’ll flick on the commercials. I happen to love ballroom dancing and I think overall it’s a pretty great show. Thankfully, House was a repeat so I was able to watch DWTS. I had my superior snicker at the ready, poised to mock at will.

And then the strangest thing happened.

Shannen Doherty saved the cat.

You see, Blake Snyder says every movie should have a 'save the cat' moment, that scene where you meet the hero and he does something - like saving a cat - and in that instant, no matter what else you've seen about the hero, it makes you like him, it somehow defines who he is.

So here I am, all ready to sneer and jeer my way through Shannen’s Viennese Waltz when what do they do to me? They tell her story about how after turning down several offers to do DWTS due to an intense hive-inducing fear of live performance, she finally agrees. And why? For another fifteen minutes of fame? To resurrect a career? For the cash? No. Because her dad, who on Christmas Day suffered from a stroke so massive it left him without speech or mobility, loves the show. She was doing it for him. To make him happy.

And in doing that, she saved the cat. She made herself human and relatable and in the process hit upon my Achilles heel – fathers and daughters. Don't even get me started on the scene from A League of Their Own...

So thanks to that, and to her dad, Tom, who wept after her debut dance I no longer dislike Shannen Doherty. In fact, there is the very real possibility that I might even cheer her on.


  1. *applause*

    I totally agree with you, Kelly. I'm watching parts of this season because it's on at the same time as Spartacus, and gladiators rule even over dance for me. But I love Evan Lysacek - so I have to watch his segment.

    Shannon definitely saved the cat. Who knew I could warm up to such a being?

  2. Kelly, what a great illustration. I've never been a Shannon "hater" but seriously, Rick Solamon? What was that all about?

  3. Love those "save the cat" moments. Funny how they can make us like anybody! Great post, Kelly.

  4. Hi Kelly,
    I think your save the cat thingy is brilliant.
    And so true. Blake Snyder would be proud of you.

  5. Great story Kelly! That book is on my TBR list! And i like your analogy - very true. ;)

  6. Save the Cat!! What a great notion and fabulous example. Especially since, like you, I'm not a SD fan.

    Great post, both from the human interest view point (awww!!!!) and from a writerly perspective!


    --Chiron O'Keefe


Post a Comment

We would love to hear from you but hope you are a real person and not a spammer. :)

Popular Posts