Now that Breaking Bad is over, and all that’s left is the nitpicking of critics, one of the most divisive characters on television is gone. The TEAM WALT vs. TEAM SKYLER or TEAM JESSE argument is over. That conflict was one of the most engaging aspects about Breaking Bad, especially in the final season. Should we be rooting for Walter White, or against him?
It’s a popular brand of character in television drama right now: A guy who does bad things, but who we kind of sympathize with. Of course, there’s no way to replace Walter White on our television screens, and any one who suggests that there are other television shows that we can replace the void with is flat-out wrong, because there is nothing capable of filling a void that large. However, there are at least a few pale substitutes with whom we can still root both for and against.
Bill Masters, Masters of Sex — One of the two leads on Showtime’s new drama (along with Lizzy Caplan’s sexual dynamite Virginia Johnson), Masters is a VERY SERIOUS medical doctor who is determined to study female arousal so that men can better understand how to get women off. We’re rooting for him, obviously, because it means more study participants (and more sex!), but there’s a part of us rooting against him, too, because Masters is an egotistical, self-serious tool and he may or may not be using his study to strong-arm Johnson into banging him. FOR SCIENCE.
Boyd Crowder, Justified — He’s a drug-dealing, murdering thug with a history of White Supremacy and violence, and going into next season, he’s set up to be a huge distributor of heroin in Kentucky. Why are we rooting for this guy? Because he’s charming as hell, he’s a sweet-talking gentlemen, he has a certain code, and the man loves his woman. You can forgive a lot when a man is driven to do bad things by a desire to live a simple life on a piece of land in a home he owns with a woman he loves. We always root for Boyd, but if it truly came down to a s decision about who lives or dies — Boyd or Raylan — who would we root for then, huh?
Nicholas Brody, Homeland — When he was planning a terrorist plot against the United States, we understood and maybe even sympathized a little with why: Because the United States wielded its military power wily nilly, killing innocent women and children in pursuit of a terrorist target. But on the other hand, he wanted to kill the Vice President, and he also murdered a man who became an inconvenience to him. Did we want him to succeed? Kind of. He wants to do bad things for a good cause, even if the good cause is not something we necessarily agree with. Now he’s on the run from the CIA, and we don’t know if we want the CIA — which is ran by a good guy (Saul) — to catch him or not, or if he should turn against the CIA and maybe even hatch another plot against them for proving themselves to be as morally suspect as Brody originally believed. So many conflicting feelings.
Jax Teller, Sons of Anarchy — Teller began as a good bad guy — a likable criminal — but in recent seasons, he’s transformed completely into a bad bad guy (an unlikable thug), not above cold-blooded murder if it serves his interest. By the end of next season, Jax is obviously going to die (since most everyone in the series will), but do we want Jax to redeem himself with his wife, with his family, and with his motorcycle club, or will we be rooting for him to die in the most despicable, painful manner possible? Is he an anti-hero, or just another despicable villain? Viewers often seem to be rooting against him, but they seem to be rooting against Tara even more, when Tara works against Jax, so I don’t even know anymore.
The Governor, The Walking Dead — There’s no ambiguity in David Morrison’s The Walking Dead character: He’s a horrible human being driven by both delusion and arrogance … and yet, The Governor is such a compelling villain (as opposed to so many of the flat, one-dimensional protagonists) that part of us is rooting for him to continue picking off those in the prison gang simply because he’s more fun to have around than, say, Carl Grimes or Beth Green. I’m not rooting for The Governor to win, but I am rooting for him to stick around.
I want more like this!
Follow us on Facebook and get the latest before everyone else.