Tuesday, November 17, 2009

How to love your asshole protag

Remember the last season of The Shield? I recorded the whole thing on my DVR and never watched it. It's been sitting there for about a year. Well next week I'll be mailing my DVR back to Dishnetwork so I can move to North Hollywood, so I decided that now was the time to plough through the last season. I think the reason I didn't before is that I knew I was gonna need to concentrate, and it was gonna be depressing.

But watching the show again after all this time has made me think about the deeply flawed protagonist - when he works, and when he doesn't. I don't want to say unlikeable protagonist because Vic is likeable as hell. He's also hateable as hell. That's what makes him so great.

As Vic descends further and further into the chaos he created, you know he won't climb out. There's only one end to this man, but somehow you still hope he'll get away with it. Unless you think about Terry Crowly, the cop Vic shot in the first episode. The minute he did that, you knew this was all headed in one direction.

So it's not like you think Vic is a good man, but you still understand his motivation. You see how the first few bad decisions were made with the right intentions, and everything just spiraled out of control. You want him desperately to stop before it's too late. And then the Armenian money train thing happened, and, well, too late. Now we just watch the fallout.

It reminds me of Sweeny Todd. You spend the whole film knowing he's not going to stop killing people, but you kind of wish he would. You feel his pain and somehow that makes him sympathetic instead of hated.

Then you get House. I've started to dislike House lately because he ever since he got off his meds he seems even meaner than before. I think the problem has become that before, you could see every time he popped a pill that he was trying to avoid the pain of being him, but ever since he stopped the medication he has no excuse. Or maybe I don't like him because this last episode (SPOILER WARNING) Cameron gave up on him. Cameron is so nice she has always believed in him, so if she doesn't, I don't. Maybe it's a combination of events, but really I think it just boils down to the fact that House has stopped having any redeeming qualities. He seems to be less concerned with the medicine and more concerned with fucking with people.

See, I think as long as Vic Mackie is nice to somebody - his wife, his fellow strike team members, his hooker contacts - you see that he is still not a horrible person, but the second you make him hateful to every single person, which is what House seems to be doing, you lose the love of the audience.

I almost don't want to watch House anymore because I can't stand watching how mean he is to everyone, but I'm glad I went back to those Shield episodes because Vic stays intriguing all the way through. You love him then you hate him then you love him again. But you definitely want to keep watching.


  1. I'm assuming you finished the show so I don't ruin it for you.

    But even at the end of the series, when Vic has totally bottomed out by selling out Ronnie, I still liked and rooted for him.

    We knew all along he wasn't a good guy. That he was a selfish prick. As the creator of the show said, Vic is a shark. He's going to keep doing what is necessary to keep moving and living.

    Don Draper is another one that really isn't all that nice to anybody, but is completely fascinating.

  2. I stopped watching House when that hot Indian dude left to go randomly campaign with Obama.

  3. Congratulations for making it into the Scriptshadow's list.

  4. Jack, when you wrote that I still had two episodes to go so I didn't read it.

    But you're right, part of me didn't want Vic to get caught, but when he did, it was kind of perfect. I know I'm not the only one who spent the entire series wondering how he was going to get his comeuppance. I think it ended pretty perfectly.

  5. Emily,

    I think the final two episodes of The Shield are the two most perfect final episodes of any series ever.

    Shane's ending was amazingly well done.


Please leave a name, even if it's a fake name. And try not to be an asshole.

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.