There are, sadly, several shows out there where I find it difficult, if not impossible to identify with the protagonist. It could be the acting, it could be the awful writing, it could be because the character is an utterly passive, characterless null. It could be all three (hi Twilight).
But there’s something rarer. Something where, because of the story, the protagonists actually seem to be the bad guys, where the antagonists seem to be the ones in the right or, at very least, where they seem to have a very compelling case. Shows where, if we had to pick a side, we would be Team Evil.
I’m not talking about shows that are deliberately ambiguous and are exploring grey areas and complex plots - though I dearly hope these shows will develop that way as it’s probably the only way to redeem them - these shows seem to genuinely expect us to sympathise with the protagonist.
Keira is from the future. She and a group of terrorists have returned to the past and she is fighting to stop them changing the future.
Personally, I kind of hope they do. Her future is a corporate dictatorship with large companies controlling government, people have “life debts”, there is no right to vote and severely restricted free speech and the population is heavily monitored. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg - there are numerous examples of abuse. The fact there are so many examples leaves me hopeful that maybe this is going to be addressed and considered in later episodes, especially with the revelation of the last episode - but so far we haven’t seen it and it is just a hope. As it stands, Keira is trying to create a dystopia which makes it awfully tempting to be Team Kagame. I actually think they have to make the terrorists so cavalier with loss of life because that’s the only thing that stops Keira being an outright villain.
We’ve already discussed the many problems of Dr. Rosen, but the moral problems are not just limited to him.
The whole way the government regards Alphas is exploitative and extreme. Alphas deemed dangerous or criminal are given no due process at all or even a nod to their human rights. They are kidnapped, shipped off to a secret facility and imprisoned. While there we have heard them being tortured, experimented on and fitted with chips that render them docile and near mindless. It’s ironic that they recently discovered the bad guys experimenting on Alphas and considered it so shocking - were they worried their patents were being threatened?
Even at the benign end, Alphas are expected to serve. If you have a useful talent like Skylar or Gary, you are given little choice but to join up and have your powers used. Even Cameron was first blackmailed onto the team with threat of arrest for murder.
Given these conditions, when we hear of Stanton Parish fighting back against a government that seeks to enslave, experiment on and murder his kind... well, he has a point.
We generally have no problem with True Blood’s villains - they’re usually gloriously, amazingly evil. There’s little ambiguity in the bad guys.
But recently we’ve had the Terry storyline with the Ifrit. Terry, Patrick and his platoon in Iraq went to a minaret, got drunk, took drugs and when Iraqi civilians arrived to protest, they dismissed them and ended up killing several in the crossfire of a firefight when they were impaired. To finish off, at Patrick’s order, Terry shot and killed a wounded Iraqi woman - who cursed them with the Ifrit to kill them.
To which I’m having a reaaaaal hard time finding sympathy for Terry and Patrick here. I’d be there rustling up some kindling.
So which show has made you Team Evil? When have you found yourself squarely on the side of the antagonist? Which supposedly good protagonist do you find to be the real bad guy?