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Anti-Hero in Revenge

image courtesy of abc.com

Last night, Revenge came back with a new episode (finally). It’s taken weeks off so everyone, including me has been anxiously waiting. I talked about my love for this show months ago, when it first aired. Before the break, the show managed to twist what we all thought we saw in the pilot episode. The pilot opened with a scene on the beach making us believe that Daniel, Emily’s fiancé, had been shot. Instead, he’s arrested for shooting the other crazy person on the show.

In that first post, I talked about how Emily appears to be a complete sociopath with no feelings, at least until we see her with her childhood friend Jack. Through all of the twists and turns on her quest for revenge, this has held true for Emily. At the time, I didn’t call her out as an anti-hero, but now I think she’s one of the finest examples on TV.

Emily is on a mission to get revenge against the Grayson family for ruining her father and taking everything from her as a child. In one fell swoop, she lost her only parent, her house, her dog, and her best friend. Then she’s trained to believe the lies about her father.

So while revenge itself is far from a noble concept, as viewers we’re immediately sympathetic toward Emily because of her past. In addition, the Graysons are such a lousy bunch of rich snobs, it’s kind of nice seeing them taken down a notch.

Emily is conniving and deceitful and will do whatever is necessary to achieve her goal. There are times that I cringe watching what she’s willing to do and the lies she’s willing to say to move her plan forward.

It’s never been clear whether she really has feelings for Daniel. I know she doesn’t view him as part of the problem. After all, it’s not his fault who his parents are. He is a means to an end, but I think some of that gets muddled for Emily.

In last night’s episode, she admits that she lost focus and let emotion get in the way. I’m not sure about the direction of that emotion. She loves Jack. But it wasn’t clear if that’s the emotion she was referring to, or if she’s talking about Daniel.

In all my talk about anti-heroes, I’ve learned a lot. You can read past posts here and here and some links to other people’s posts here.

While looking at the concept of the anti-hero, I’ve come up with some things I think are necessary for it to work.

The anti-hero has to be sympathetic, if not likable. She needs to have some redeeming qualities. She should believe her cause is noble, even if it feeds into something personal for her. And finally, I think that the anti-hero has to make the audience believe she can be redeemed or reformed. Even if it never actually happens, we need to believe in the possibility.

Emily fits all of these. We’re sympathetic because of her childhood, and her love for Jack shows that she’s not heartless. She believes that she’s doing some good by taking down the Graysons. They have a habit of ruining lives, and not just her father’s. They’re bad, bad people. Finally, and this was revealed last night… SPOILER ALERT

Emily admits that she would dump her plan and come clean if she had to in order to save Jack.

Now, Nolan puts the words out there and Emily lets him believe it, but I think deep down it’s true. She doesn’t officially admit it, which is disturbing. Maybe she’s playing the game letting Nolan think that.  Maybe she can’t admit it because emotion has already gotten her into trouble.

Either way, I’m looking forward to the rest of this season.

Do you watch Revenge? Who do you think Emily should end up with Jack or Daniel? Or no one?

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Friday Favorites – Dating, Writing, and TV

Busy week around here again. I’ve been saying that a lot lately it seems. Between Trouble’s birthday and RT and getting my revision letter from my editor, I’m a bit crazed. By the time this posts, I’ll be back at RT for a full day of workshops and fun. I’ll get another post up about it next week (or earlier if I’m really ambitious).

On to this week’s list of favorite blog posts. I bet you’re wondering how I managed to read all of these posts (and maybe even question if I did actually read). I read some throughout the week as I discover them on Twitter. Then I sit down with my Google reader and scan everything I’m subscribed to and pick the best. So really, in addition to these, I’ve read lots of others.

Dating and Love–

image courtesy of recruiterpoet.com

Ingrid Schaffenburg has another post to partner with the one I linked to last week about finding “the one.” This week she talks about finding your type (or not). As I said last week, I married my opposite and it’s worked out pretty well for us.

Jenny Hansen is participating in the A-Z blog challenge, which means she’s blogging every day in April, working her way through the alphabet. This week for H, she wrote about being a hussy and online dating. This is yet more evidence that I should never again enter the dating world. Have a laugh.

Finally, this post is great and it shows exactly why I love Romance Man. He writes about how men have to put in effort to make marriage work. Excellent advice that should be shared with men the world over.

Writing–

Angela M. is also doing the A-Z challenge and has a post about Alpha males that I wanted to include because I love Alphas.

Both Jami Gold and Kristen Lamboffered posts this week about finding your voice in writing. I kind of stumbled into my writing voice. When I started writing romance, I

image courtesy of lifeislifeislife.blog.com

followed the old saying “write what you know.” I read romantic suspense more than anything else. It’s a genre I feel I know and understand well. My first 2 manuscripts are both romantic suspense and will probably never see the light of day. About halfway through the second one, I knew it wasn’t working, but couldn’t figure out why. When I had the idea for my third manuscript, I realized it could be nothing but contemporary romance. I dove into the subgenre and read and read and read. Then I wrote and found a natural fit for my voice. That is the book that will debut later this year.

Chuck Wendig has one of his list posts this week called 25 reasons I hate your main character. Must read.

Elena Aitken has a post about her new release and the soundtrack she made for it. It really makes me wish I had created a playlist for the book I’m working on now.

TV–

As a quick follow-up to my post and link to others about the anti-hero, Sonia Medeiros continues with another post about Dexter, everyone’s favorite anti-hero.

Tiffany White covers Bent, which is a show I talked about when it premiered. I haven’t watched comedies in a long time, but this one attracted my attention (probably after Tiffany mentioned it on her blog). But I am a sucker for a man in a toolbelt. It’s a fun, campy show, but Tiffany brings up some good points.

One of my favorite shows, Justified, ended for the season this week. It seems like it crept on me too quickly and I’m not quite ready to let go. Adam Bellotto has a good recap of the last episode.

Allison Brennan did an excellent post on her hatred for Raylan’s ex-wife Winona. I hadn’t thought much about it, although I never really liked Winona. Allison makes fabulous points about why she hopes Winona is gone for good and I’m inclined to agree. Allison wrote this post before the season finale and it’s probably good because at the end of the show, Winona is so slow on the uptake when Raylan is telling her about all the bad shit, that I wanted to slap her. So clueless (and not good enough for Raylan).

Last, but not least–

Emma Burcart writes about the old adage “Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach.” This expression has always bugged the shit out of me. Yes, I was a teacher. No, I am not less than other people because I chose that career. Teaching is damn hard work and all of you should go out and thank a teacher for helping you get where you are today.

What expression or adage drives you a little batshit?

(I probably won’t get around to responding to comments until this weekend but I will get to them – promise)

Friday Favorites – The Saturday Edition

Believe it or not, I had my mashup links selected yesterday, but I got sidetracked getting ready for my daughter’s birthday party. So I’m running a day behind, but the posts are still worth reading.

The other day, I revisited the idea of the anti-hero. As it turns out, I’m not the only one thinking about anti-heroes.

Elisabeth Naughton talks about her latest novel, Enraptured, which stars an anti-hero.

Then, Sonia Medeiros focuses on Dexter Morgan as an anti-hero. I mentioned Dexter in both of my posts on the topic because I think he’s a perfect example.

Both of these posts support what I said in that an anti-hero has to be more than just likable; he has to have some kind of moral code. (And for the record, I see no moral code in Marty Kaan.)

Marcy Kennedy has an excellent post on how to keep strong female characters likable. She outlines three simple things: Explain what made her that way, let us see that she loves something, and show that someone loves her. She uses Katniss from The Hunger Games and Kara Thrace from Battlestar Gallactica as examples and nails it. Great advice.

Over at Writers in the Storm, Rob Preece talks about the difference in writing men and women. I think this is a tough thing to tackle, especially if you write in both a male and female POV. It’s hard to make yourself sound convincing as a member of the opposite sex.

Ingrid Schaffenburg has a post about finding “the one” and realizing it might not be who you’d expect. Personally, I thank my lucky stars that I’m not in the dating world. I have a lot of friends who are and I hear the horror stories. For me, I don’t know that I had a type when I was younger. I would go on a date with almost anyone, but I did tend to be most attracted to bad boys – not sexy, rough around the edges, heart-of-gold one either. I did marry a man who is my opposite in pretty much every way. It’s one of those things where we have people question how we got together because we are so very different, but for the most part, it works for us.

Finally, Larry Brooks posted over at Storyfix what he learned from a room full of romance writers. I appreciate that Larry wrote this because of the misconceptions people have about writing romance. His experience in the world of romance writers echoes much of my own. The romance community is definitely one of support, even if you don’t write romance.

Next week, I plan to attend a couple of days of the RT Booklovers Convention since it’s pretty local for me. I hope to come back with a wealth of information to share.

Revisiting House of Lies & the Anti-Hero

A few months ago, I blogged about a new show, House of Lies. I liked the premise of the show and with it being on Showtime, I knew that there would be a certain shock factor. Of course, the show delivered. If you’ve never seen it, the show follows a business management consultant and his pod (team) as they rip companies off.

It’s an interesting, and I believe pretty true-to-life, representation of some business management consultants. When I wrote about this last time, I wasn’t sure if I would continue to watch the show because after three or four episodes, I found that I really didn’t like the main character, Marty (played by Don Cheadle). People told me to hang on, that we’d probably get to see some more redeeming qualities in Marty.

While I didn’t rush to my TV every week to watch the new episode, I didn’t delete the timer, either. When I had some extra time, I caught up on episodes. In my last post, I questioned whether Marty could be considered an anti-hero because I didn’t see any redeeming qualities in him. After watching the entire season, I can admit that the show did allow peeks into some of Marty’s vulnerabilities and there were some redeeming qualities to Marty.

He truly loves his son Roscoe, who is figuring out his sexual identity. Marty handles this well and I don’t doubt his love for his son.

Marty also appears loyal to his pod, but I do question that loyalty. By the end of the season, although I wanted to believe that Marty would stand by his team, I still felt that everything he did was to manipulate them to achieve the outcome he wanted.

Mid-way through the season, Marty supposedly fell in love. I believe he cared for April, but I’m not sure this man even understands what it means to love someone. Bottom line, he leads with his dick and his ego and does whatever he wants regardless of the consequences.

That is the sticking point for me. While I believed an anti-hero needed some redeeming qualities, Marty has taught me that it’s more than that. Even though I can see that Marty loves his son and he struggles to deal with his mother’s suicide, it’s not enough for me to want to continue to watch him. And this is why:

An anti-hero has to at least appear to be redeemable.

The anti-heroes that I can believe in have more than just redeeming qualities. There’s something about them that makes them more…human. They have some kind of moral compass, even if it’s not one that coincides with mine.

Batman doesn’t let anyone get close to him and I believe that is because he tries to protect others from getting hurt. He won’t let himself have the pleasure of a “normal” life. He’s a man on a mission, and his mission, although it feeds into something on a personal level for him, does good for society.

Dexter is much the same way. He’s a truly screwed up individual, but he lives by a code, an honorable code. He’s a good father who also happens to be a killer. Dexter does everything in his power to protect those he cares about including his son and his sister. He only kills bad guys, ones that fit the code.

For both Batman and Dexter it’s more than just having likable qualities or vulnerabilities that make them anti-heroes. They do things that don’t quite fit into the norm of what is expected for a hero, but I think that if their personal experiences had been different, if their worlds had changed early on, they could be true heroes.

This wouldn’t hold true for Marty. I can’t imagine Marty doing anything heroic because that would require him to put someone else before himself. Marty is too selfish and egotistical for that. He ruins lives around him. He has little or no regard for anyone else. I don’t believe there’s any hope for Marty.

Now that the season is over, I don’t know that I’ll watch next year. The show itself is well-written and enjoyable, but like I’ve said lots of times, for me, it’s all about character.

And I really don’t like this character.

Do you watch House of Lies? Do you enjoy watching anti-heroes?

The Anti-Hero and House of Lies

A new show started on Showtime this past Sunday. It airs right after one of my favorites, Shameless (which I posted about last week), so I decided to give it a shot. The show is called House of Lies and stars Don Cheadle as a management consultant. The show’s pace is fast and the characters are interesting, but I haven’t yet decided whether I’ll continue to watch and here’s the reason: I’m not sure I can get behind Marty (Cheadle’s character). Here’s a trailer for the show, but it is not safe for work:

For me, TV is mostly about falling for characters, so this is a sticking point. I spent some time thinking about it, which led me to decide that Marty is an anti-hero. For those of you unfamiliar with the term, I sought out what I thought would be the best definition. This comes from LearnHub:

Defining the Anti-Hero

The definition of an anti-hero can be subjective. He is usually the protagonist or a key character. Generally, an anti-hero will have the following qualities:

  • it is clear that he has human frailties; he has flaws
  • he is more accessible to readers because he is more “gritty”
  • he is often disillusioned with society, or increasingly becomes so
  • he often seeks redemption or revenge for his own satisfaction, and sometimes for the greater good of society
  • unlike the classical tragic hero, he doesn’t always think about what the right, moral thing to do – he often thinks about what’s right for him
  • he is often misunderstood by others in his society
  • he could perhaps be called a noble criminal or a vigilante
  • qualities normally belonging to villains – such as amorality, greed and violent tendencies – are tempered with more human, identifiable and even noble traits
  • their noble motives are pursued by breaking the law; a.k.a. “the ends justify the means”
  • increased moral complexity and rejection of traditional values

Now, I have absolutely nothing against the anti-hero. One of the best anti-heroes on TV right now is Dexter and I adore Dexter. Dexter is a serial killer who targets those who escaped punishment for their wrongdoings. He is a vigilante, but you see a softer side to him when it comes to his son and his sister. Also, he lives by a code where he needs to prove (to himself) that the criminal deserves to die.

The cast of characters from Leverage would also be considered anti-heroes. They steal. No matter how you slice it, what they do is illegal. This is mitigated by the fact that they commit crimes to help those in need. They fund their entire operation themselves, but it is with money gained from the first job they pulled together. Money from ill-gotten gains.

In looking at Marty and comparing him to the list above, I think my problem with him is that I don’t find much to like about him. I don’t see the bad qualities being tempered with good ones. I think the rest of the list suits him perfectly. I don’t see “increased moral complexity,” just amorality. And I’m not sure that’s enough to keep me tuning in.

Did you watch House of Lies? What did you think? How about anti-heroes — love ’em or hate ’em?