I’m going to admit that I am a person who not only binges on TV but will actively avoid watching a show one week at a time simply for the pleasure of booking a few days off work and killing some several trillion brain cells on a monster binge. So this week I’m going to give you a helping hand navigating some Netflix mines. If, like me, you enjoy binging the last thing you want to do is waste a day on an undeserving show when a gem sits right under your nose. The topic this week is likeable but flawed characters and the shows that do this well, and the shows that really should give up trying at this point.
Every show I’m sure has it in their heads to create characters that are both likeable and simultaneously not. You want a character with flaws; surface flaws, deep-rooted psychological flaws, physical flaws. But you also want people to not grow to hate (or worse, grow bored with) these characters. It’s possibly one of the hardest juggling acts any writer will ultimately try to do. Goody-goody characters are a pain to watch and after a while you find yourself wanting them to trip and fall face first into space poo. On the other hand make a character without enough redeemable qualities and you end alienating the viewers.
Yesflix – Farscape
If you haven’t watched this show, you really need to. Even if it’s just for the fantastic Jim Henson creature work. Fortunately, if you come for the creatures you’ll end up staying for the killer script, believable characters (yes, I freaking well did just say believable characters), insane story-lines and possibly some of the most awesome, witty and utterly badass antagonists that have ever graced the small screen. View another galaxy through the eyes of wise cracking astronaut John Crichton as he accidentally tumbles into a wormhole on his first and last test flight only to come out in another galaxy, one with a vast array of strange, beautiful and terrifying creatures.
This is a show with characters so different, volatile and genuine that it’s hard to look away. Unlike any other show I’ve come across the friendships among the characters in this are hard-won. When you are introduced to them for the first time nobody trusts anyone else and it’s a very long time before that changes, with quite a few setbacks along the way. On top of this you have some of the most sympathetically evil villains you can imagine.
This is a show that does well-rounded characters the right way, with grit and betrayal and lashings of teeth, and don’t worry about the final episode of the final season, you just make doubly sure you have The Peacekeeper Wars on standby when you get there.
FANS OF Firefly, Andromeda and Star Wars WILL LOVE THIS!
Noflix – Hemlock Grove
Pretty early on you can tell they were trying to go with a far darker than normal undercurrent to this show. Our main characters are portrayed as our standard troubled souls and when you throw in some large helpings of murder and wonderful Eli Roth horror you would expect to end up with something biting and absorbing. The problem with Hemlock Grove is that all the ingredients were there in season one for something amazing, unfortunately, someone got the quantities wrong and left the thing baking for an extra season with a touch too much essence-of-asshole and this cremated husk of a brick came out.
Set in a town called Hemlock Grove the show follows the intersecting paths of a young werewolf, Peter Rumancek and the town’s wealthy golden child Roman Godfrey as they become embroiled in a murder case in the town. As it progresses you find yourself swaying back and forth between wanting the majority of the characters to die in a fiery explosion and wanting to get to the end of it to see what the hell is actually going on. The problem is getting to the end you’re left slightly disappointed and more than a little unfulfilled with some of the ways they wrap up. Season two, if you get that far, is so disjointed and off the wall that it’s fairly hard to follow and the show becomes nothing more than a spectacle. I watch it for the cool bits in between the jarring parts of “I don’t give a damn” and “What the holy shit is happening?”
One of the problems with Hemlock Grove is that the characters aren’t terribly redeemable or relateable (I’m looking at you Roman Godfrey, you bastard). The few moments of humor and interest only serve to string us a long a little further in the show. You find yourself ready to turn off and something happens and you foolishly decide to give it another chance. You find yourself waiting to see if the bad people die in the first season, and then hoping and praying they do in the second.
Just stay dead! Why won’t anyone just stay dead?