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The Broken Hero

It’s after nine p.m. Monday night and I realized that I had no blog post for today. Nada. Usually I have something at least drafted, even if it’s just a title and an opening paragraph. But it’s been one of those weeks where a lot has been going on (mostly good) and I’ve been wrapped up and the blog faded from my mind at least temporarily. So I went to my handy file of ideas. (You have one of those, right? Things you find and say, “I might use this one day.”)

Anyway, I came across this post from November that explains why Batman is the greatest superhero. Now, I’ve never been much of a comic book reader, but I’ve always liked superheroes. Especially Batman. I grew up watching reruns of the 1960s TV show. All of my kids have played with the action figures and watched many versions of the Justice League. In fact, my youngest daughter absolutely loves superheroes. For a long time, Batman was her best friend (invisible as he was to the rest of us).

At a party recently I was talking to a friend’s husband and we chatted about all sorts of stuff, and I discovered my inner geek peeking out. We talked Star Wars (new and old) and super heroes. During the conversation, I mentioned that Batman had always been my favorite because he was just a regular guy but had that mysterious bad boy image. Who could resist?

Then, my friend mentioned that Batman was damaged goods, which made him a bad choice. Which got me to thinking. Some people might call Batman an anti-hero (which I talked about here). Maybe they’re right, but for me, he’s a broken hero or a tortured hero.

I love to read about a broken hero. There’s something about watching him fall in love and healing whatever is wrong with him that is so completely satisfying. I know a lot of readers love a tortured hero.

The why of it got me wondering. Because really, those guys tend to be total downers. They’re not uplifting or hopeful or even funny most of the time. They tend to be cold and distant, caught up in their own twisty dark side. Why the hell do we like them?

Maybe it’s because as women, we’re supposed to be nurturers. We want to care for those that are hurt and the tortured hero is nothing but deeply scarred. In having a hero that is so damaged, it makes it easier for the reader to become emotionally invested. I think that another part of it is that these guys tend to be alpha – take charge, do what needs to get done. I always find that sexy.

As much as they are always in control, it’s so much fun to watch them lose control as they fall in love. I think that’s where the hope lies. That love is possible even for these men who seem (and believe themselves) to be totally unloveable. And finally, there is great satisfaction in knowing that the heroine is the one who rescues him.

The last great tortured hero I read was John in Inez Kelley’s Sweet As Sin. I talked about it a couple of months ago. If you love a broken hero, you’ll love him.

Who was the last broken hero you read and loved?

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The Return of Old Friends (and they’re not all cops)

Ahh…now that the holidays are over, we get back to the important stuff: good TV. 🙂 Of course, many of our regular shows will pop up with new episodes (I’m looking at you, Castle). But for me, I also look forward to the  return of some favorite mid-season shows.

First up, Southland. I really thought this show had gotten canceled. It started out on network TV and was cut. Then TNT picked it up. In case you’ve never seen it, the show’s about LA cops (big surprise, right?). What makes this show unique is that it isn’t about one department or division solving a big crime each week. It follows a few detectives and a few uniformed cops. We get snippets of their personal lives, but because it’s such a big cast of characters to follow, you don’t spend a lot of time with any one character. Mostly, we get to see what being a cop does to these people. We see them doing the boring parts of the job as well as the exciting parts. While I do watch this show every week, and I look forward to its return, I can’t say I’m excited. Kind of like when an old friend is coming to visit; you’re happy to see him, but you don’t get all hot and bothered over it.

Now, Justified, on the other hand, really heats things up. The show is based on an Elmore Leonard story, so you know its roots are solid. Raylan Givens (played by the very sexy Timothy Olyphant) is a U.S. Marshall with a hot temper. He has a habit of shooting people who come up against him. Every shooting, though, turns out to be justifiable, hence the name of the show. During season 1, Raylan was transferred

back to Kentucky where he grew up. He has strong ties (not necessarily good ones) to Harlan County. The cast of characters is diverse and real, but it is Raylan who brings me back each week. He’s a damaged hero, but you don’t know that right away. He seems pretty put together on the outside, but his ex-wife pointed out, “You’re one of the angriest men I know.” And it’s true. That anger pops out and although he doesn’t turn into a raving lunatic, you see it in his eyes. Not a man I’d want to cross. Putting all that aside, the plot lines are drawn from real life. Real people trying to survive in small towns in a crappy economy — drugs, gangs, and coal mining.

The show that I am really excited about is Shameless. This is another show that we Americans stole from the Brits. I’ve only caught part of one episode of the British version, so I can’t say whether it’s any good. I am totally in love with the American version, though. I love this show for so many reasons: 1. It takes place in Chicago (who doesn’t like to see their hometown on TV?) and the producers do it right., 2. It’s about the Gallaghers, a large Irish family (you remember my post on Blue Bloods?), and 3. The family is so real, yet unique and damaged that you want to see what will happen.

William H. Macy plays Frank, the good-for-nothing drunk father. Mom took off a long time ago, leaving eldest child, Fiona in charge. Fiona is in her early twenties and she’s become mom to this group, at the expense of her own life. Lip (Philip) comes next in line. He’s a genius, but doesn’t even seriously consider furthering his education to make life better, mostly because he has no role models to look to. Ian is next. He’s ROTC and gay. He hides being gay because a white Irish boy on the south side of Chicago isn’t supposed to be that way. Debbie wants a normal family; Carl is a serial killer in training; and Liam is a biracial baby. What I love most about this family is that they’re not just dysfunctional. They are a hot stinking mess, but they have great coping skills. They make life work. Every time it looks like something will finally go their way, it seeps from their grasp (usually because of something Frank does).

This season the episodes are all supposed to take place over the summer, which should make things even more interesting. Last year it was winter in Chicago and the kids had school. Winter in Chicago is pretty yucky, but summertime is great. Plus, the episodes are going to air while it really is winter here. I can’t wait.

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What returning shows are you most looking forward to?