The Protagonist Mood Rating
The Protagonist-Mood Rating
A psychological system for ranking
films, novels, TV shows, etc.

psychological ratings of movies, TV shows, etc.
For a list of films and their PM Ratings, click here.

For a list of TV shows and their PM Ratings, click here.

The Protagonist-Mood Rating Explained

Critically-acclaimed or critically-panned, films often disappoint the ticket-holder purely for psychological reasons, for example: unlikeable "heroes," depressing themes, or unsuitable target-audience. The Protagonist-Mood Rating "ranks" the quality of films, TV shows, fictional stories, biographies, etc., using three parameters: Protagonist Likability, Sustained Mood, and Targeted Gender.

The PM Rating combines the first parameter, Protagonist Likability, and the second parameter, Sustained Mood, and ranks each one 1 - 9, with 9 as the best score. It also combines a third parameter, Targeted Gender, ranked as Male, Female, or Everyone (M, F, or E). Thus, for example, a PM Rating of 79M would indicate 7 for protagonist appeal, 9 for mood, and M for male. Translated: the characters are generally likable, the atmosphere is upbeat, and the targeted audience is male.

Likability of protagonists refers to their sympathetic appeal; warmth, compassion, and charm.

Mood or tone refers to the happiness or satisfaction produced by the film, novel, documentary, etc. Is it generally upbeat (high score), or depressing (low score)?

Targeted gender refers to the audience-gender most appealed to: male or female. (Biological or cultural differences create differing psychological preferences.)

Protagonist Likability

As suggested earlier, Protagonist Likability refers to character appeal, but in terms of psychological -- not aesthetic -- qualities. Character foibles, engaging eccentricities, and other features are included in this assessment, but critically-acclaimed protagonists do not, by default, trigger Likability. For instance, Michael Corleone (The Godfather II) is a complicated, ingenious protagonist; ambitious and loyal to his comrades, appealing to ladies and to men. But, despite his sinister charisma, Michael Corleone is not likeable, as defined here. (He is fascinating, of course -- but not likeable.) He is a liar, an abusing spouse, a ruthless gangster -- the force of his own brother's destruction. The irony is that Corleone's grim, tragic persona is required to make Coppola's Godfather II the grand classic that it is. Despite that, our PM Rating for Protagonist Likability is only 3.

The Protagonist Likability Score is neither a moral judgment, nor an aesthetic measure. Our criteria for assessing Likability is not based on social standards; it is psychological, designed to consider questions such as: Do you care for these people? Do you engage in their struggles? Do you experience compassion for them? (Essentially, do they increase oxytocin in the human brain?)

A high Likability Score can befall a boring protagonist in a dull story, but it is usually awarded to an interesting character in a good story -- if the character is generally likable.

Multiple protagonists are judged separately and combined into a single rating, so if one protagonist is highly likable, but another is not, a compromise is made. If both protagonists play a central role, then neither can be ignored; so both are assimilated. If one protagonist outshines the rest, his or her Likability predominates in the calculation of the Likeability Rating.

The Likability Score is subject to one's opinion, as it is in most critical fields. It depends on the ranker's likes and dislikes, background, gender, prejudices, and state of mind.

Sustained Mood

Does it make you want to cheer? Is it triumphant, redemptive, or inspiring? Does it offer a happy ending? (An optimistic resolution is not a prerequisite for earning a high score, but is often contributory.)

Frequently, an upbeat film is a roller-coaster ride of ups and downs, intense ordeals, tragic moments, or shocking surprise. But, in general, does the mood throughout (or, at least, near the climax) "feel good" to you? To a certain degree, the definition of "feel good" may depend on the genre. Usually, for example, a "slasher" horror film is a total downer -- regardless of its ending. The question is: "Overall, does the experience leave a good taste in one's mouth?"

Targeted Gender

Each person is unique; but gender differences do exist, from culture to culture. No need to explain them in detail; most of us are aware of them. If you need a reference, consult Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus, by John Gray. Targeted gender is not necessarily intentional by the creators.

Summary

In conclusion, the PM Rating does not replace -- nor conform to -- mainstream critical analysis. It's an additional measure, designed to impart a psychological rank, for the purpose of aiding discernment. Perhaps its closest media-analogy is The People's Choice Awards, except for the fact that our judgment-parameters differ, and the Protagonist-Mood Rating is not a popularity contest.

For a list of films and their PM Ratings, click here.

For a list of TV shows and their PM Ratings, click here.

Creator of the PM Rating and author of TV Ad Trivia Quiz Book (Barnes, 1981), the author's work has appeared in Movie Collector's World, MacWorld, Games Magazine, Redbook, and The Journal of Recreational Mathematics, among other publications. His academic work has appeared in Perceptual and Motor Skills, Speculations in Science and Technology, The Indian Journal of Theoretical Physics, as well as other journals.



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PM Ratings of films

PM Ratings of TV shows

PM Ratings of news events

a self-test to discover if the PM Rating is right for you

psychological uses of the PM Rating system







PM Ratings of films

PM Ratings of TV shows

PM Ratings of news events

a self-test to discover if the PM Rating is right for you

psychological uses of the PM Rating system