Rob Lowe presents the daring Netflix special Attack of the Hollywood Clichés

The new one-hour show covers everything from the cute encounter to Wilhelm’s scream.

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Watch enough movies and you’ll be expecting the expected – plots, themes, characters, and bits of narrative glue you’ve seen over and over again. Critics tend to call them high-sounding things like “archetypes” and “tropes,” but they’re actually just clichés. Not that there is anything wrong with that.

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Netflix’s new one-hour special, Attack of the Hollywood Clichés, loudly applauds those familiar elements. The tongue-in-cheek play through big screen history, ironically presented by Rob Lowe, begins airing on September 28. He sets the tone right away in the opening moments.

“Hi! Unlike you, I’m Rob Lowe,” he says. “And I love movies. The fact is, I’d rather be watching a movie than doing this right now.”

Along with Lowe, other actors, film critics, and industry insiders weigh in on Hollywood’s filmmaking tools, with a host of clips from all genres illustrating their points. Here are some of our favorite cliches in the spotlight:

The cute encounter: The moment when a future romantic partner meets for the first time, usually under strange or funny circumstances. There may not be a connection right away, but the audience just knows that they will become charming in the future. See: Notting Hill or Singing in the Rain.

The walking dead: A supporting character who won’t make it to the end credits. Think of the cop with only one day of work left. Once that character is truly dead, you may see a lonely character watching the funeral from afar or someone talking to a tombstone to signal their inner turmoil.

Props galore: In a segment in the studio, Lowe extols the beauty of a character carrying a paper bag of groceries, usually with a loaf of bread sticking out of the top. It just makes them more identifiable. Plus, he says, “Actors love to accessorize because, like all good co-stars, they never hog the scene and are generally paid less.”

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Related is the moment when a character eats an apple, indicating that he is a conceited son of a gun. Tell a scene of Captain Kirk chewing one on Star Trek, or Tom Cruise’s character in A Few Good Men chewing when he meets his superior officer.

Wilhelm’s cry: First recorded in the 1951 film Distant Drums, Wilhelm’s Scream was adopted into the Warner Bros. Sound Library and later used at the 1953 Western The Charge on Feather River, when Private Wilhelm is shot in the thigh with an arrow. Since then, he’s been in countless movies and TV shows, and became a true Hollywood joke when he appeared in Star Wars, when Luke Skywalker shoots a Stormtrooper from a ledge.

And there are many more cliches to feast on, such as the car chase, the spitting, the fear of the mirror, and the woman running or fighting in high heels.

The attack on Hollywood cliches also tackles race-driven cliches that have recently come under fire. We get examples from The White Savior, when a white character rushes in to help a non-white character (see: The Nun’s Story, Green Book). There is also The Magical Negro, a secondary character who benefits the white characters with their special vision or mystical powers (see: Song of the South, The Legend of Bagger Vance).

But you get the idea. Tune in and you may not see another movie the same way again.

Attack of the Hollywood Clichés debuts on Tuesday, September 28 on Netflix.

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