5 Television Characters Who Were Overall Awful Human Beings But I Loved Anyway
Note: The following will more than likely contain spoilers to the following shows — Sons of Anarchy, The Sopranos, The Wire, Breaking Bad and Californication. If you’ve been under a rock for the past seven to fifteen years and never caught these shows but plan on doing so, maybe this article isn’t for you. I also have no affiliation to these shows or the networks they aired on.
Perhaps what makes a good protagonist on a television drama is their ability to commit ungodly acts, in the name of good intentions. There is always an underlying good reason that seems to motivate them. Thus making it morally safe to root for them as they heinously murder, connive and philander. Many of them seem to be able to justify their actions through their need to provide for family — an honorable trait in any man or woman. However, many of these men seem to fail to realize there are ways to provide for family without violating the RICO act or committing multiple homicides in broad day light. Here are five of my favorite Television characters of all time and what I loved about them as well as why I was usually able to justify their increasingly awful acts and decisions.
Tony Soprano (The Sopranos)
Tony Soprano was the classic man’s man. The mob boss with a soft spot for animals — ducks and horses especially — as viewers learned throughout the shows tenure. He once asked his therapist “whatever happened to the strong, silent type?”. He also described himself to the same therapist as “The sad clown”. All traits I can relate to on a deeply personal level.
As head of New Jersey’s organized crime syndicate, Tony was immoral by trade. He cheated on his wife in what seemed like almost every other episode. He had his nephew’s fiance whacked for talking to the feds — a few seasons before murdering his nephew in cold blood with his bare hands.
A constituent of his once said “At least with Tony Soprano, you always know where you stand”. Which was partly what I admired about him. He didn’t back bite nor mince words. He said what he felt and did what he felt needed to be done — right or wrong. He took care of both of his families the best way he knew how. The following is one of my favorite Tony Soprano scenes as well as one I feel fully embodies who and what he was, as well as why I loved him.
Omar Little (The Wire)
Omar Little was the man every drug dealer on “The Wire” loathed and feared. He made his living robbing them, strolling through the Baltimore projects whistling with a shotgun in hand. You couldn’t help but respect him. It could actually be said he had more of a conscience and sense of right or wrong than anyone on the show, other than a handful of cops. Jimmy McNulty, probably not being one of them.
Omar had strong standards on who he did and did not pull that shotgun on. He didn’t rob or murder civilians, nobody outside of “the game” as he would say. Everyone he robbed, knew the stakes involved in the game they played. He was the walking disruption to The slums of Baltimore’s very distorted way of life. The following is my all time favorite Omar Little scene and does a tremendous job at summarizing who he was and what he stood for. I highly recommend watching the seven minute scene in it’s entirety.
Hank Moody (Californication):
Though Californication was not as groundbreaking of a show and Hank was not nearly as immoral as most of the other characters on this list, he will still go down as one of my all time favorite characters I can’t help but love. What differs Hank from some of the other men on this list is I actually liked the love of his life, Karen. She was easy to love, wasn’t a hypocrite and always called Hank on his bullshit.
I think any writer or aspiring writer can appreciate this show as well as the main character played by David Duchovny. He drank, he fucked, he wrote and he didn’t apologize for any of it. He despised the mainstream, their gatekeepers and Hollywood at large. But he also loved his family more than he loved himself. As badly as he often behaved, he also knew he was wrong. Unlike a few others on this list, Hank at least had a conscience and never killed anyone. The following scene is a fantastic summary of Hank Moody as a man, who he was and what he represented — not to mention it features one of my all time favorite songs.
Walter White (Breaking Bad)
The High School chemistry teacher, turned cancer patient turned murderous meth kingpin. Not an easy transition to make but Walt made it and made it well. He made it look easy, almost.
Although Walt’s conscience and sense of right and wrong seemed to slowly fade each season, until it was pretty much non existent, you believed in his ‘why’ more than most of the other characters on this list. He was dying of cancer and truly feared leaving his wife and two kids with nothing. There is no denying that was his initial intention and motivation behind his terrible decision to recruit a former student of his to help him cook and distribute methamphetamine. Walter White was not a tough guy but had moments where he instead ironically acted courageously out of pure fear.
I love the following scene because it gave viewers a look into where his true motivation came from — the square root of his hunger for more. It wasn’t just to feed his family but to make up for how he felt he shorted himself and allowed himself to be shorted by others, years earlier.
Jax Teller (Sons of Anarchy)
The last but certainly not the least. Jax Teller was a man of somewhat moral integrity when he’s introduced to us in the beginning of season one. It slowly but surely changes through his step father ordering the murder of his best friend’s wife, his mother being gang raped, his infant son being kidnapped and hauled off to Ireland, witnessing the murder of his best friend and then finally, his Mother murdering his wife and blaming it on the Asian mob.
I can justify almost every murder Jax committed over all seven seasons of Sons. I applauded many of them in fact. It still hurt my soul to watch him put a bullet in the back of Gemma’s head though, I mean come on — it was the guy’s mother!
I idolized Jax Teller. I wanted to be Jax Teller. In fact, there was a very brief period where I may have thought I was Jax Teller (before I put drugs down). He was a man who essentially never had a chance to be anything but what he became, the president of the Sons of Anarchy motorcycle club.
In addition to Jax being one of my favorite characters of all time, Sons will probably go down as one of my favorite shows of all time as well. Top 3 at least.
The following does more for showing you who Jax Teller was than I possibly could. Truly amazing scenes told through his journal entries.