In the age of an abundance of superheroes gracing our TV screens and saving the day, sometimes it’s nice to have shades of gray. Not fifty shades, but you know what I mean. It’s nice to have an antihero. Who, in most cases, lack the conventional morality and do-goodness that may become exhausting and not relatable. Not to say that the heroes displayed today on television are not complex and well-written individuals, but an antihero has an honesty that is refreshing to any audience.
For example, in season one of Arrow, Oliver Queen crossed off names from The List and killed whenever he thought necessary (which was a lot). Now, Oliver is the Green Arrow and trying another way. That progression wasn’t easy for him, if it was we as viewers would have fallen asleep and stopped watching ages ago. But because it was a long and hard journey, with still ways to go, we were rewarded — rewarded with a person. People make mistakes and hard decisions, and that used to be sheltered from us in superhero franchises. But not anymore. Not with Oliver and his bow and arrows.
Superheroes aside, antiheroes on television are popping up more and more. Walter White in Breaking Bad and Klaus Mikaelson in The Originals are great examples. These are two completely different shows, but the result is still the same. Walter and Klaus do heinous things, but you still root for them. As we watch Walter poison children and Klaus rip the heart out of another person’s chest, why do we want them to succeed? It’s because no one is awful just for the sake of being awful. What’s terrible to one, might make sense to another — we empathize with people doing what they need to do to survive. And that’s honest. The imperfection of characters on television nowadays breathes life into the struggle and the immense fear of judgment and persecution that everyone goes through.
Long unanswered questions arise when dealing with antiheroes. Where is the line, and when do we draw it? What act is beyond forgiveness? When are you beyond saving? These terribly complicated and controversial questions can only be answered for yourself. In what you value and your own personal experiences. The answers may change as you get older, and that’s okay.
Young people today have great content to watch, love, and maybe even learn. It’s a great time in television and movies to sit with a bowl of popcorn and a remote control, figuring out your authentic self amongst an antihero.