What is it about antiheroes that draws us to them? Is it that they play by their own rules, or that they fly in the face of social norms? Maybe it’s simply that living in darker times, we identify more readily, even if only on a subconscious level, with those who are flawed, much as we perceive ourselves and the world around us. Whatever the reason, portraying the protagonist as an antihero seems to work very well in the modern day television and cinema. Dark heroes abound, exhibiting a range of character flaws, and carrying enough emotional baggage to bankrupt a frequent flyer.
In our first Retro–Nomads post , we are going to take a look at the eleven best antiheroes of modern television; who they are and what makes them so great, why they are flawed and yet still our heroes. To call this a rogues gallery may be too generous…let’s just say they are all great scoundrels and make for riveting television. We’re sticking to contemporaries here and focusing on series you can still catch on TV, but there will be a nod at the end towards the great ones from the recent past.
Can I call you Bob? You’ve written to me so many times, I feel like I know you well enough to call you Bob. Hope you don’t mind. So listen Bob, here’s the thing. I cancelled my service with DirecTV over a year ago, October 2008 to be precise, and I don’t want to ‘come back.’ I thought I made it clear to your company at the time I cancelled that I was unsatisfied with the service, that a picture that fades out during light rains is not considered of acceptable quality, and a DVR that spontaneously deletes show is not, in fact, acting in my best interests by shielding me from inappropriate content.
The bi-monthly phone calls from your customer service centre, offering me fabulous prizes, peace, and contentment if only I would switch back were nice, I guess, but after the fifth time that I informed them that I was not interested, to please remove me from your calling list, and that I was going to file a complaint with the FCC as I am on the National Do Not Call Registry and am not a customer of DirecTV, they finally stopped.
But now, Bob, you are mailing me once a week. Once a week, Bob…what’s up with that? Do you really think that it is a wise investment of your advertising dollars to mail former customers weekly asking them to come back? Do you really see sufficient success with a nag campaign? Really? Because I mean, like, wow Bob, to me, this weekly mailing is less a strong-arm marketing plan and more like a global deforestation campaign. Think of the trees Bob. I’m sure Bobby Jr. likes to climb them, to swing from them, maybe even to breathe the air…do you really want him growing up knowing that his daddy is single-handedly responsible for the loss of 10 bazillion acres of woodland?
Come on now Bob, think of the trees.
Seriously Bob, the volume of your letters are approaching the likes of AOL CDs, save that I can at least take 10^6 of those (approximately three weeks worth during the blitz of ’96) and fashion a solar reflector to help combat global warming. What can I do with your letters? They aren’t even partially post-consumer content, and they use bleached paper! Bleached paper, Bob, bleached.
So come on now, Bob, do the right thing. I bet if you allocated just ten percent of your mailing budget to R&D, you could figure out how to make your satellite dishes three inches in diameter, or how to keep a light dusting of pollen from interfering with the signal. Take another ten percent, and you might be able to figure out how to make sucky programming seem better in HD. I know damn well you’d reduce the impact on the planet’s ecosystem to the point that we might just still be here in a couple of hundred years. Too much to hope for? Okay, I’ll settle for you just taking me off your damn list. That ought to save at least one tree a year, and it’s enough to make me feel a little better.