No. 3.

IF YOU ARE writing a realistic drama of contemporary life, remember that, as a rule of thumb, all persons under the age of 35 are single, and all persons over the age of 35 are divorced.


  1. Robert St. Agamemnon-Fargy says:

    Dr. Boli, this advice implies a difficulty, viz., that in films, the only persons who can be married must be exactly 35 years of age. I find this a bit of a stretch.

    Yours, etc.
    R. St. A-F

  2. markm says:

    R. St. A-F: “As a rule of thumb” does allow for a few exceptions.

    People under 35 may be just married and in a movie, but only if at least one partner is either about to die or hiding a dark secret: she’s an axe murderer, an alien, or in love with the limo driver, or he’s Satan and planning to breed the antichrist, or they’re both mob hitmen with contracts on each other.

    People over 35 may be married and in a movie, but either the marriage is breaking up with hilariously vicious fighting, one of them is about to die or disappear, or they still have secrets: They may be superheroes, superspies, and/or mob hitmen with contracts on each other.

    That leaves a few minor roles, such as friends of the family, or occasionally the parents in a Disney kid’s movie. Such bit players should always appear 35.

    • R St. A-F brought up Disney. Now, you must realize that in a Disney movie, the action is on the child having an adventure. The rule of thumb for a child having an adventure is that his (or her) mother must die tragically first. Therefore, the dad is unmarried (unless the evil stepmother clause kicks in). Think of Bambi or Cinderella or Snow White or Nemo.

  3. JaneC says:

    “occasionally the parents in a Disney kid’s movie”

    Only very occasionally! In most movies and children’s literature, the child has one parent or no parents, or the parents are elsewhere for the whole duration of the story.

  4. C. Simon says:

    Dear Dr. Boli: How can I maximize my federal return? Mr. James Otis, Boston

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