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Modern Anti-heroes

BySidsel Norgaard

Oct 31, 2014

What type of main character do we typically see in today’s TV-series? Is it the classical hero, or is it a new type of character?

The classical hero is often seen as a strong character who doesn’t do anything for himself, but sacrifices everything for a bigger cause and the society. In stories about the hero, there always have to be a villain as well. But what happens when the villain becomes our main character in the story? This is often the case in modern TV-series, where the villain is a kind of antihero, who may not be a villain in the viewer’s eyes, but in the eyes of the society.

In classical TV-series, like Friends and Star Trek, there’s no character development, and all the characters have the same personality traits through the entire series. In today’s TV-series we’ll instead view a massive character development, for instance in Game of Thrones or Breaking Bad, where almost all of the main characters will change their personalities during the seasons.

And what about these main characters in modern TV-series? They aren’t the typical heroes, who sacrifice themselves, but rather very self-interested individuals.

Look at Mad Men’s Don Draper (Jon Hamm) who has stolen another man’s identity, living a life as a lie. And what about House of Card’s Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey) – one of the most cynical characters you’ll meet on the screen, who destroys every human being on his way, just to keep himself on the top. Even in Sherlock, it is no longer a classic detective-story, but a story about a detective – with not only his good, but also his bad sides.

Why do we love these characters anyway, and why do these TV-series continue to get huge critical acclaim? In my opinion it’s about the complexity and the development in the characters, which is something everyone can relate to, because no one consists of only a few personality traits, and nobody will be static  during their life. We may shift our sympathies with the characters during the show, because their actions aren’t always acceptable.  However, that’s why these series seem more realistic in their complex ways, because it isn’t the same clichés we view on the screen, but real people with real problems, who’s behaviour we can’t always predict.

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