It's hard to imagine that a person's entire personality is based off of five characteristics. However, according to The Big Five Model of Personality there are only five personality traits from which all other traits derive. Among these are Openness to Experience, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism (page 562 of the Lilienfeld text). After taking a personality inventory test, an individual will get a score for each of the five traits. What makes a person unique is not his/her score in one of the categories, it's his/her score in all five categories.
Relying on five personality traits to define an entire person seemed impossible at first, but after analyzing the world around me I saw that these five traits do not only define individuals but also their relationships with others. This can be seen most apparently all across television. To make television interesting the writers of modern day TV shows make their characters exhibit tremendously extreme levels of these five personality traits. This makes things interesting because the people that surround us in our actual lives have more moderate levels of these personality traits. The next thing that TV show writers do is take these characters that have tremendously extreme levels of these traits and place them in close proximity with one another. These traits are meant to clash and, in doing so, to create conflict and an interesting plot to follow.
We can see this in TV shows like The Simpsons, Family Guy, and American Dad where the father of the household exhibits unhealthily high amounts of Extraversion and the mother of the household exhibits unhealthily low amounts of Extraversion. This continually sets the family up for conflict because each episode the father goes out and gets put into horribly unfortunate and incredibly entertaining situations while the mother of the household has to deal with everything and help solve the problem. After we spend time getting to know the characters of the show the writers will also through in episodes where the characters will dramatically switch roles. For example, there is an episode of Family Guy where the mother of the household begins to steal and becomes addicted to it. This really grabs our attention because we have an understanding of Lois (the mother) having low amounts of extraversion. When she all of sudden becomes a thrill-seeking maniac and the father of the household is the one who has to help her through the problem we can't look away because it's completely challenging our understanding of the characters.
Here are two video clips that demonstrate this process. The first shows Peter's (the father of the household) incredible Extraversion. The clip contains fragments of several episodes where he spontaneously takes hard drugs such as meth and cocaine. This is Peter's normal character, a thrill-seeking, for lack of a better word, psychopath. The second video is a clip from the episode where Lois (the mother) switches roles with the thrill-seeking psychopath and gets incredibly drunk. This is interesting to viewers because this is something we would expect Peter to do.