by Sara Hubbard
One of my favorite television shows premiered this week, and I was chomping at the bit to watch it. How was it? Awful. Okay, well maybe not totally awful. The episode was actually good. The problem I had was with the hero. He’s a criminal. Like killing people and selling guns criminal. So he has some slight flaws... LOL. It would be easy for me to dislike this character because of said flaws, but I don’t—or didn’t. For me, this character was redeemable. He was a tough guy with a soft spot for his mother and his high school sweetheart and his criminal ‘brothers’. It was his love for these women and friends, and the way that he treated them that made me love this character and want to root for him, despite the awful things he did. Then the director went and made him have an affair while his wife was in jail for helping him. Did I mention she’d only been in jail for a few days and the ‘other woman’ was a prostitute?!
The reason I bring this up is because this episode really got me thinking about books and writing and the qualities that make heroes and heroines lovable. The best books are the ones with characters who have serious flaws, but they also have qualities about them that make you overlook their faults. They are redeemable. We continue to read a book and root for characters because of those few, or many, characteristics that make us hope they’ll be better. They make us want to take a journey with them to redemption, or to stand by witness them overcome obstacles that will make them change for the better. The problem with my fave television show is that he is no longer redeemable for me. And because of this, I have little interest in watching the show anymore. Then again, maybe I’m just angry at the direction the story is taking J and I’ll forgive him eventually.
As I write this, I am trying to think of examples of books where characters are seriously flawed, but we still love them. My first example: Gone With the Wind. Even at the end of the book/movie, I still rooted for Scarlett despite how awful she could be. And I like to think that if their story continued she would eventually become a better person and they would find their way back to each other. Rhett couldn’t give a damn, but Sara could (that’s me!). Another example: 50 Shades of Grey. Christian Grey was a bit of a jerk for most of the books, and yet we knew his back story and couldn’t help but hope that Anastasia would be the one to help him change.
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