Monday, May 15, 2017

Even Progressive Narratives on TV Shows Are Failing

Emily Nussbaum called this the problem of the "Bad Fan." There will always be some viewers, she wrote, who are "watching [the show] wrong." Nor is this new; Nussbaum pointed out that "there was always a subset of Sopranos fans that just wanted better and bloodier whackings — and there's a subset of Breaking Bad fans that will always want Walt to wear that hot black hat."
The more the Narrative deviates from reality, the more "bad fans" will multiply.

Show creator Vince Gilligan:
[W]ith the risk of painting with too broad a brush, I think the people who have these issues with the wives being too bitchy on Breaking Bad are misogynists, plain and simple. I like Skyler a little less now that she's succumbed to Walt's machinations, but in the early days she was the voice of morality on the show. She was the one telling him, "You can't cook crystal meth." She's got a tough job being married to this asshole. And this, by the way, is why I should avoid the internet at all costs. People are griping about Skyler White being too much of a killjoy to her meth-cooking, murdering husband? She's telling him not to be a murderer and a guy who cooks drugs for kids. How could you have a problem with that?
Skyler's role in the show is wife and mother, but she rarely came across as the innocent victim of her husband's crimes. Contrast her with Lorraine Bracco's Karen in Goodfellas.
The inverse truth is that when you've made the wife the antagonist and stripped her of the thrills of villainy — when you've made her not just the boring wife, but also the show's moral center? Well, that there's a recipe for massive annoyance.
There is no center in a morally relativistic world.
You know who doesn't have an annoying sister? Or a pregnant belly? Or a baby? Or any vulnerability — or expectations of the antiheroic protagonist? Kim Wexler.

Better Call Saul's Kim is put together. She's sexy. Whereas Skyler was homebound a lot of the time, a lumpen shadow haunting the White abode, Kim barely has a home at all; she showers at the gym. Skyler starts the series glumping around in robes and hideous beauty masks. Kim wakes up looking amazing in a T-shirt.
Kim is liked because she is an innocent woman, a good woman who loves Jimmy. Even if they give her a crooked bitch backstory, she'll probably still be liked by fans as long as she doesn't stab Jimmy in the back.

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