Rooting for the Bad Guys

I told my dh I wasn't going to watch Smith because I didn't want to watch another show where I'm rooting for the bad guys. I already have Prison Break. My dh pointed out on Prison Break, Michael and the warden really hadn't done anything wrong, but even the guards and FBI agent are bad. (I add Tweener to the good guys side, because all he did was steal a baseball card.) Part of the warden's anger is that he was betrayed by Michael, who he thought was FINALLY a good guy. (And am I the only one who wishes the FBI agent wasn't crazy, just smart and driven???)

My dh also said (and honestly, I'm not one of those women who say, "My dh says" all the time, but it was an interesting point) that the guys on The Unit do anything they have to do to get through a mission, even for a noble cause. Many times they go in knowing they'll have to kill to get the job done. My dh points out it's not that different from Smith or Prison Break in that way. Except for the cause.

Back to the bad guys - I don't watch The Sopranos, so I don't know if you ROOT for them, necessarily, or you just start to understand them.

Now there's a new show called Dexter, on Showtime, where the protagonist is a serial killer. He only kills bad guys, but still! (One of my cps read the book and LOVED it.)

The book I just finished reading, Something Borrowed, is about a woman who sleeps with her best friend's fiance. I don't know that I was rooting for her, per se, but it was interesting to be in her head throughout the affair.

So why this trend? Do you follow it? Does it blur the morality lines, help you see the other side? How comfortable are you rooting for the bad guy?

Hey, it turns out my best friend likes Alex, too!

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14 comments:

Colleen Gleason said...

I think that's a very interesting concept: movies or books that make us root for the bad guys.

When done successfully, it's kind of weird the way we side with them. But it also goes to show that there are two sides to every story, and that everyone has "their reasons" for doing what they do.

I'm trying to think of stories that successfully did that for me, and one of them is Linda Fiorentino's breakout movie--of course I can't remember the name right now. The Last Seduction. That's it.

And in Season Four of Buffy, I find myself rooting for Spike when he's trying to get away from Riley and his crew--who are really the good guys, trying to neutralize the bad guys (vampires and the like), but I want Spike to escape for some reason.

I'm twisted and warped.

This is a great blog topic. I might steal it some day. ;-)

Trish Milburn said...

I think I'll just say ditto to Colleen's post. :) Hey, I was rooting for Spike too.

On Prison Break, most of the guys who broke out didn't do anything that's a huge threat to society -- only T-Bag and Abruzzi killed anyone. But the writers have done a good job of making even them seem human. We saw how much love Abruzzi had for his family, and there's even that hint that T-Bag had a really messed-up childhood that helped turn him into what he is. And on the topic of T-Bag, he is by far the most disgusting of the group as far as what he's capable of doing, but I can't help but laugh at some of the things he says. He has the bet lines sometimes. And the show would definitely lose some of its interesting dynamic without him. I do thing he should be caught before the show ends though.

Kelly said...

I hate to say my favorite character on Prison Break is Teabag. I'm not sure what that says about me but I'm sure it means I need intensive therapy. Although I usually root for him getting what he deserves if that's any help.

And I've been watching Smith, but only because Simon Baker is in it and I'd watch him stand there and recite the phone book.

Tori Lennox said...

I watched the first episode of SMITH and decided it wasn't for me. I disliked all the characters and it seemed like the most boring heist show I'd ever seen. I have plenty of other shows to watch, thanks. *g*

Amie Stuart said...

I enjoyed smith but I'm not invested in it yet like er other shows *coughpbcough*

I totally wanna scope on Dexter!!!!
And I love the Sopranos nad The Unit. I don't have an answer for you though. but I think it's fascinating how they don't redeam them but they make us have a vested interest in them.

Interestingly enough last night on PB they were talking about crossing lines and not being able to go back which I thought was kind of appropriate.

Shesawriter said...

oh, Cece!!!

I blogged about Dexter tonight. I don't understand what the heck is going on. What are the showtime writers smoking? I'm not liking this new trend at all.

MaryF said...

Colleen, I agree with the "two sides to every story." That's part of the reason I like writing, to explore the nuances of "why," even in villains.

T-Bag is everyone's favorite character at my house, and Trish, you're right, he gets the best lines. I think the writers probably had to make C-Note and Sucre and Tweener's crimes less offensive to make the viewers root for them. But now they're having to cross more and more lines, like Cece said, and it's making me twitchy.

I tried Smith again last night, and even Simon Baker in a swimsuit couldn't pull me in.

Cece, Dexter is written up in the Entertainment Weekly with....um.....some girl on the cover. (The Stephen King article is good, too.)

Tanya, I'm coming over to see what you wrote about Dexter. They say it's pretty gross. I also happened to rent Weeds because Denny is in it (BRIEFLY) and there's another bad guy. The mom, Denny's widow (Yes, he's dead in this show TOO), is selling weed to maintain her lifestyle after her husband died. SHEESH!

But at least we know what the Showtime writers are smoking.

Elizabeth Kerri Mahon said...

Mary, I didn't think either Rachel or Dex were bad guys in Something Borrowed. Rachel did a bad thing, but she wasn't inherently a bad person. Neither or Michael or Lincoln for that matter in Prison Break. They may in the course of the show do bad things, but it's probably a reason for it. Spike, on the other hand, was bad and knew it, and went to great lengths to repent and get a soul.

MaryF said...

Elizabeth, you're right about Rachel or Dex not being BAD, but she was The Other Woman, and he was The Cheating Fiance, which are, like Colleen said, the other side of the story.

Natalie Damschroder said...

Absolutely, Colleen--it's the "everyone is the hero of their own story" thing. And the more complex a character is, the more interesting.

I think T-Bag's appeal is mainly the actor, who is SO good and has SO much charisma. I want him to die, very very much, but have to admit the show would be much duller without him.

Mary, I was disappointed that the FBI agent has a drug problem, but he's not crazy. He killed a (backstory) suspect when he shouldn't have (basically acting as judge and jury) and that's a secret. A secret the president and her people know and are holding over his head. He desperately wanted Tweener to roll, because if he didn't, "they" (the president et al) wanted him to kill him. He didn't want to.

MaryF said...

Natalie, I missed the previous week's PB - did the FBI guy's connection to the VP come out then? Sometimes the conspiracy stuff goes too far, IMO, but I can't WAIT for the 23rd!

You're dead on about T-Bag. The actor is amazing.

Amie Stuart said...

Tanya I watched the first one last night on OnDemand--Dexter? Fascinating character study. I'm gonna go blog about it here in a few.

T-bag fascinates me! I don't like him but he can still make me laugh. Again, from a writer's persepctive it's really amazing work! I mean really he's irredeamably bad (is that even a word?) and I don't feel any sympathy for him (like I do Tony Soprano).

MaryF said...

T-Bag definitely keeps the show interesting. It's like it keeps you on the edge - should I or shouldn't I root for him?

Amie Stuart said...

Mary I feel like I should watch him from between my fingers!

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