Antiheroes Everywhere, Ctd

by Brendan James

A reader challenges this post:

Walter White may be cut-throat, he may be a murdering, lying, cheating asshole, but he is the show, and we very much care what happens to him. Personally, I’d love to see him beat cancer, ditch that wife of his and unearth the millions in the desert to retire peacefully in Belize, or Russia, leaving Hank to fume and foment. Walter set out on a course that was rooted in good intentions. He wanted to care for his family. The road to hell, as they say… so in the process he lost his soul.

Take it all the way, Walt. You are the devil now. Live like it. We’ll have sympathy for the devil.

Another reader agrees that the antihero market is overcrowded but that the good finds are worth it:

Your post reminded me of how good and sick I got of movies featuring anti-heroes when I was young. Butch Cassidy, Bonnie and Clyde, Easy Rider – you could go on and on. But then came the ultimate anti-hero film: The Godfather.

That one I loved! I can still remember how delightfully shocked I was to find myself admiring Don Corleone, and, even more astonishing, rooting for Michael to follow in his father’s footsteps, instead of becoming the “good” Corleone that his father wanted him to be. The last scene, where we see the various capi kissing Michael’s hand through the horrified eyes of Michael’s wife, and were pleased for Michael, was glorious. I have never even bothered to watch The Sopranos – from what I hear, it is a latter-day attempt to equal the Godfather, and that is impossible.

Todd VanDerWerff put it well when he wrote “where The Godfather succeeds in (relative) succinctness, The Sopranos succeeds in accumulation.” There’s an argument that the serialized format of TV is better geared toward winning our sympathy for the bad guys. I wonder if the first reader above would be so supportive of Walter White if we only got to know him over two hours. (Incidentally, Sopranos showrunner David Chase actually wanted his pilot to be spun into film, now an odd and unappealing thought.)