Episode 754


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The 2014 Advent Calendar takes a turn for the sinister as Will Ackerman and TV 101 bring you a look at villainous protagonists. Why do we watch them, what does this say about ourselves, and who's getting an extra large chunk of coal this season from Santa? [ 43:15 || 21.0 MB ]

To listen, click here: http://www.earth-2.net/theshow/episodes/e2ts_754.mp3

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There are several shows that come to my mind which fit what you talked about in the fact that they had characters which were not likable ones.

The Shield, for instance, is a good example. The main characters are supposed to be protecting the public but the crux of the show is the main characters are trying to cover up the fact that they murdered one of their own.

Archer is, simply, not a likable character. To quote the Thing., "Nuff Said."

Look at many of the early TV shows on Fox. They littered with unlikable characters who are supposed to be the heroes of the series. Married With Children is a great example of this. You are supposed to pull for them and want them to succeed but because of who they are and the great acting of the participants in the show.

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No mention of Tony Soprano?

Dollars to donuts suggests he is where the modern television hero protagonists get a lot of their inspirations from.

Not intentionally in many cases of course, but in a lot of ways many of the archetypes for dramas these days comes from The Sopranos.

Speaking of HBO, how about Larry David's television version? Or perhaps Ari Gold of Entourage?

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The problem with The Sopranos is that I never really watched it. I never had HBO and since they've never played nice with Netflix or put out an inexpensive dvd set, I've never gotten around to watching the show. So, I didn't really list him but, by all accounts, you're right on him.

The thing about Unlikable Protagonists vs a Villain Protagonist is that they're not mutually inclusive with each other. There are many Unlikeable Protagonists that are technically not villains (Lana Lang for example) while there are many Villain Protagonists that are likeable, or at least charismatic enough to make you as the audience ignore their unlikable flaws or even root for them.

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Oddly enough, that played into a major writers block I had for a masters course in mass communication.

I'm not one that idolizes celebrities, or noted personalities, in the first place, so I don't place fictional characters as any sort of "worship" or "base a life philosophy' around. After all, the next person that writes (or performs in many cases), the character, chances are they will take said character in a direction that will go against everything that you held dear about that character.

But the point is, I was faced with such a question, where the assumption that because I liked a character, made it seem I "looked up" to said character. I ranted to someone about this that probably my favorite Soprano character, Christopher Moltisanti, was a heroin addicted, pathetic wannabe gansta. No way did I "like" that character because I wanted to be that character or whatever the question was trying to say.

I don't begrudge someone choosing a fictional character as their "role model" per se (welp, as long as its not someone who is truly evil personified...but you know what I'm saying), its just not how I'm wired, but I wonder how much those lines get crossed when you are talking about Villain Protagonists that do get insanely popular in mainstream culture.

For example, I wonder how many of those who hated the Seinfeld finale didn't realize how that was a very appropriate way to end our look into these miserable people's lives. What else were they expecting? There is a reason for Seinfeld/David's no empathy rules for the series, because otherwise the ending wouldn't have worked if there was any sort of character growth over the years (and yes Time of Your Life (Good Riddance) was appropriate to use as a sendoff song).

Of course with recent events, we can look at actors that may have believed their hype just a "tad" much, well my example being Bill Cosby using his "Phil Huxtable" personae as justification to speak out on behavior and cultural issues...but that's a tangent for a different TV 101 episode =;)

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