By: William G. Muir
Is it just me, or have writer forgotten how to write likable characters? Or are they writing unlikable characters on purpose? Or are these characters just reflections of what the writer see when he turns his eye the public-at-large?
Now don't get me wrong, I know there are suppose to be characters that we are not suppose to like. Characters that are suppose to be the antagonist to the more likable main character. But it seems like these roles have been reversed and that the characters we have traditional routed against are now the characters that get our sympathy. Or at least this is the way I feel these days.
It just seems like the past several years I have turned into new shows or watch some popular movie and I have been turned off to the characters that I am suppose to be cheering for. It makes me think all these writers are trying to make the characters they write to be the antihero. But they fail in this attempt. The best antiheroes have some aspect of their character that redeems them. A part of their personality that separates them from the villains of the story. This is where all these other characters are lacking. Instead of having that one thing that endears them to us, these character are just jerks. And not only are they jerks they are jerks to their friends and love ones.
So let's take a look at a show that offers not only a character that we are suppose to like but comes off as being unlikable. It also offer us an example of the antihero; that character you shouldn't route for, but always do. First our unlikable character, Thirteen from House. We are suppose to like this character because she's not afraid to stands up to Dr. House, also she has a chronic illness. Both of these thing end up working against her. For all his faults we like House. Because of this every time Thirteen bumps heads with House we side with him. His methods may be questionable, but they always bring about results. Were as Thirteen is always wrong and never admits this. Her pride will not let her.
Thirteen is also very judgmental. No matter what issue might arise she is quick to form an opinion on it. But we are are suppose to like this quality in her. No matter if she is right or wrong she comes down on the opposite side of what House wants to do. Where in House we truly believe that he believes in the opinions that he holds. Thirteen doesn't seem to come off this way. You get a feeling that if House was to say the sun was yellow Thirteen would say it is blue to just disagree with House.
Finally we come to her illness. Thirteen has Huntington's disease and instead of feeling compassion for her, we are turned off by the way she handles it. At first she doesn't want to know if she has the disease. (Here mother died of Huntington's when she was a child.)We move from there to her living her life recklessly and whining about how her life is so horrible because of her illness. Despite all her complaining she has no desire to do anything that might increases her chance of survival; at least not at first. Later on she takes part in a clinical test for a drug that may help in the fight against Huntington's. (The writer probably went down this road due to viewers complaints about all her whining.)
As we all know House is no choir boy. He is rude to everyone in his life. Really he is rude to anybody that crosses path. He has no respect for anyone else ideas, indeed he will openly mock them for how stupid he thinks they are. The closer someone is to House the more likely he is do something to strain the bounds of those relationships. He won't do anything to hurt the other person emotionally or physically; though he will skirt that line on occasion. And finally House is genius and will not fail to remind everyone that he is smarter than them.
The thing is there is a method to everything House does. He doesn't do these things because he is an evil man that hates all those around. To the contrary he does these because he does these to help people. The thing is that House sees how the cold and uncaring the world really is, while all those around him are wrapped in there fairy tale worlds looking for their happy endings. All the pranks and practical jokes he plays on his colleagues and friends is his way of trying to open their eyes. To get them to see beyond the barriers that they have constructed around them. He is trying to get them to reach for their full potential.
House never whines about his lot in life. At the end of the day he knows who is ultimately to blame for how his life has turned out. And that is himself. That's not to say he takes full responsibility for the outcomes of his actions. But he does know whatever may come it all his doing.
For all his faults, House is loyal to those he cares about. When his best friend' Wilson's girlfriend was dying form injuries she obtained in a bus crash. A crash that they had both been in. House puts his own health at risk trying to recover memories of what happened. He even suffers seizures after undergoing a very dangerous Deep Brain Stimulation.
In the end the character of Thirteen is what is wrong with writing today. There was a way to write her character to make her likable. But instead we get a character that is unsympathetic. In contrast to Thirteen we have a character we should despise. But regardless how appalling we find House's actions to be, we are still behind him.
Maybe it is just me. Maybe the culture has moved on and I have been left behind. But when I am watching a tv show or a movie I want to be able to identify with the characters I am watching. But maybe those kind of character only exist in reruns.