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Open Collection of Student Writing (OCSW)

“Win-Win” Delightfully Zags in Delivering Three-Act Story Structure

Win Win’s protagonist Mike Flaherty undergoes a change from good fortune to bad, then unpins his way back to good. Here are Aristotelian contributions of Win Win’s Acts, I, II, and III.

ACT I: Mike Flaherty’s Change from Good Fortune to Bad

ACT I introduces Mike and the relevant characters at the dawn of his journey. Mike seems to have it all –suburban comfort, an out-of-his-league wife, a boyish best buddy, and even a part- time gig as a wrestling coach. (What aging former athlete would not want that?)

The “Life-Changing Event” (LCE) marks the end of Act I. It is the courtroom scene when, feeling the pinch of expenses and a down-cycle in his law practice, Mike sells out his elderly, helpless client, breaching professional ethics and trashing the social compact.

While advocating Leo Poplar’s right to remain in his home, Mike learns of a $1,500 monthly stipend for a guardian for Leo, whom Judge Lee deems incapacitated. Mike angles for and is named guardian. He betrays Leo, placing him in the elder-care facility he was fighting against.

ACT II: Rising Action Crescendos with Explosive Moment of Kyle Outing, Then Pinning Mike

ACT II depicts the rising action accompanying the conflict. Opens with family at church.

Mike’s bargain is far from NSA. The arrival of Kyle, Leo’s grandson, gives Mike the son he has never had (subtext). Kyle’s surprise blend of wrestling acumen and former elite wrestling status present unknown success. Mike’s buddy and co-coach, Terry Delfino, ironically indicts Mike: “This kid is a bonus for [your] doing the right thing… It’s a sign.”

Enter another LCE: The emergence of rehab grad Cindy, Kyle’s estranged mother, Leo’s estranged daughter, and Mike’s nemesis. Cindy wants to cash in on father Leo’s money and lawyers up. Discerning Mike’s relationship with Kyle as the fracture point, she gets Kyle the court transcript, outing Mike as cheating Leo and, ultimately, cheating Kyle himself.

The film’s explosive moment happens at the end of Act II when Kyle confronts Mike with the court transcript, laying bare Mike’s wrongdoings to wife Jackie, friend Terry, and trusting client Leo. Mike accidentally trips Kyle, then Kyle refuses Mike’s hand up and pins Mike. Kyle exits.

Jackie grills Mike, who confesses to having done all just because they “needed the money.”

ACT III: The Resolution – “WTFITTGO” and Return to Good Fortune

Act III opens with Kyle sleeping at friend’s house, Cindy calling Kyle, and Mike apologizing to Leo and committing to take him home.

In Act I Mike chose the wrong path – seemingly profitable dishonesty versus Terry’s suggestion of bartending. Act III’s change in fortune has Mike following Kyle’s wrestling advice of how to be freed amid an overwhelmingly difficult pin. The advice – “Whatever the fuck it takes to get out.”

In Act III, Mike embraces WTFITTGO. Mike relocates Leo to his home, pays Cindy the monthly retainer, and bartends to supplement his law-practice income. Good fortune has returned.

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