They say conflict is the basis of all drama. They even say the three kinds of conflict there can be. Those are:
1. Man vs. Man
2. Man vs. Nature
3. Man vs. Self
I always thought they skimped in the Man vs. Society area, but I guess you could make a case that it falls under number 1 (or number 2, if we're going to let the metaphor of Nature stand in for a lot of stuff). Anyway, I was watching the television show The Slap, which does a really excellent job of distilling conflict and making it personal and interesting, and it got me thinking about how a well written drama can create a conflict within the audience itself. A primary way of doing this (which, again, The Slap does exceedingly well) is by making you root for someone who is not particularly likable (admittedly something of a trend in modern television writing, between your Don Drapers and your Walter Whites). A subtle variation on this, and perhaps more difficult to manage, is knowing the guy you're rooting for is doing the wrong thing. The Slap may be doing this, too. At only the second episode (of its American incarnation, anyway), it's too early to tell. But it will be fascinating to watch it unfold.