Whatcha Watchin'?

I concur.

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I had a Prime membership for months before I clued in to the fact that I suddenly have access to a new video library. I’ve been watching Justified - I watched the first two seasons when they came out, but then I didn’t see the rest.

I’m watching it again from the start. I’m back up to season 2, and it’s even better now that I recognize “Esteemed Character Actress Margo Martindale”

Regarding Breaking Bad - I have tried to watch it twice, and I have never gotten past about 4 episodes. I know that feeling uncomfortable is part of the experience, but after a couple episodes I just bail.

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Does anyone have a theory why self-destructive behavior has become the entertainment of the moment? It seems to be at the core of most sitcoms and many dramas these days. Rather than people rising to meet external challenges they are battling themselves. I liked the now cancelled series Vinyl but found the self-destructive behavior of the protagonist hard to watch. I couldn’t take Girls either. There’s a huge difference between a screw up like a Gilligan and an entire cast of loathsome people.

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I don’t have a solid theory about why it’s in vogue, but since I just referenced Bojack Horseman, let me just say that Bojack Horseman has some of the best self-destructive behaviour of all time.

Bojack manages to walk the line between horrible and relatable so well that I just can’t stop watching. I mean, he mostly tries so hard not to be terrible. but god the ups & downs . . . with Bojack at least it feels like a badly damaged person doing his best, even when he is so obviously fucking it up so very very badly (omg season 3)

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Okay, I’ve made it through an entire season of Dicte, and I need to amend my earlier statement.

The individual plots are okay, as far as crime dramas go, but I’m really getting sick to my stomach watching the romantic subplots - which really make no sense at all.
Everybody knows what Dicte’s ex (Torsten?) and her co-worker Bo are like, yet they fall in bed with them at a moment’s notice.

“Oh, you got a paper cut on your finger/the barista screwed up your coffee order? Here, let me slide my penis in your vagina and make it feel better.”

As for you, Anne (the character), you’re by far the most intelligent person on the show. I am very disappoint. You fell for one of the dumbest psychologists ever written for the screen.

Surprised nobody has mentioned babylon 5 in regard to satisfying the fans and not degrading into ever diminishing returns but going from strength to strength. That’s what you get with one person’s creative vision i guess, plus doing the majority of the writing. There are two kinds of people in the world - babylon 5 fans and those who haven’t tried it yet.

Oh i agree about not having sympathy with walt in the end, he was a complete and utter evil bastard. I think i remember vince gilligan being quite dismayed at the character being held up as some sort of folk hero.

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Don’t forget the spin off ancient aliens.

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I cheered for him a little at first, because I felt sorry that the insurance industry screwed him over. I also liked how he used science to solve his problems. But it quickly became apparent that he had been a bitter and entitled arsehole long before the cancer, and after that the enjoyment of the show came from seeing how the toxic white masculinity you mention led to an escalating cascade of bad decisions.

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The common theory is that the wider range of uncensored outlets for serialised TV has allowed showrunners and writers to explore the dark themes and the non-positive or non-existent or ambiguous resolutions that they couldn’t before 2000. “All in the Family” was edgy and still holds up, but Archie still had to be somewhat loveable and episodes had to be resolved in a clear way, happy or sad.

Combine that with the bill for decades of Reaganism and neoliberalism coming due after 2001 and there was plenty of societal malaise and attendant self-destructive reactions to mine. “The Sopranos” was hammering at it in 1999, and “The Wire” really ran with it starting in 2002.

Since then it’s been extended to historical dramas (showing that the “good old days” weren’t all that good) and comedy (because awful and selfish people being allowed to display their horribleness in all its glory is funny).

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Crusade? I never saw that and from reading a bit about it it doesn’t sound like it was given a chance to shine before they cancelled it.

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THIS.

It was especially riveting to watch, because it was Walt’s own hubris that created a helluva lot of the problems he faced.

If he had just told his wife the truth from the start; or if he had just been more patient with Pinkman after blackmailing him into cooking with him… but no; that massive ego of Walt’s wouldn’t allow it.

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Absolutely. There were so many times where he had the perfect opportunity to “get out.” But his greed, hubris, and addiction to his lifestyle did him in over and over again.

He really said it best at the end when he finally admitted he had no real altruistic motives; he just liked being a criminal.

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It was the same massive and passive-aggressive ego that had prevented him from reaping the benefits of the company he co-founded with his friend years before the events of “Breaking Bad.” If he hadn’t been such an insecure prick he’d have had plenty of money and an executive healthcare plan when he was diagnosed.

More than that, he just liked being a kingpin, a boss. Whatever talent or expertise got him to that point, it all went by the wayside when the prospect of being the big man in charge emerged. And in his twisted view (normalised by late-stage capitalist American culture) to be a boss you have to act like an alpha male with a gangster’s ethics (i.e. an arsehole).

Problem was, he was nowhere near as ruthless as he liked to think, whether in comparison to the soft-spoken killer Gus Fring or the Latino meth gangs or the neo-Nazis. You can see his seething resentment at anyone who was already powerful or wealthy thanks to their ruthlessness. Instead we see him acting as a small-time bully, expressing his anger and assuaging his self-doubt by preying on those around him who were weak-willed or vulnerable or who bought into whatever BS he was peddling – including the family he claimed to love.

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Yeah - after feeling kicked around for so much of his life, he loved being the one in power.

You can’t say there wasn’t a hint of pride there.

Watching his journey from schlub to kingpin and then his subsequent fall was such a gut wrenching trip and I loved it.

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Hindsight truly is 20/20.

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Funny, too. If you haven’t done so yet, watch the short Webisodes on YouTube:

The one with him and Badger is my favourite.

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These look great. I’ll have to check them out. Thanks for the link.

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That’s great, but the Bitch Montage is my favorite by far:

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I don’t hold them in the same class as the self destructive characters. They were dark, but in both the characters were mostly acting intelligently fully in accordance with the morality (or amorality) of their peers, whether mobsters, gang bangers or cops. Contrast that to say, Seinfeld, where the non-Jerry characters are simply awful narcissists or fuckups, and there have been many copycats since.

IMO where it works is when it’s subtle, like how the 2 leads in Billions make small errors in their chess match due to egotism, or a rare big error like when Paul Giamatti’s character goes to the bondage club and is photographed. If he did stuff like that every week no one would take his character seriously as a formidable US Attorney.

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Tony Soprano is amazingly self-destructive at several points in the series, despite his supposed desire to become a better family man (in both senses of the terms). The characters in “The Wire” are also self-destructive, usually because they repeatedly and delusionally slam their heads against the institutions they serve, but often on a human level (one word: McNulty; a second word: Bubbles).

A self-destructive character in these dramas is one who’s constantly betraying his stated desire to be a better person, whatever that means according to his own morality or what he thinks his own morality should be. Very often, as in the case of Walter White or Don Draper, we discover that they’re operating on the basis of a serious category error in that regard.

There are subtleties at work in the comedies, too. The difference is that those characters are not trying to be better people and gleefully reject morality. On “Seinfeld,” Jerry is awful in his own way, selfishly and sadistically enjoying the misfortunes of others (“well, that’s a shame!”) while pretending to be the “only sane man in the room.” Dennis fulfils that role on “Always Sunny.” “You’re the Worst” put its own spin on the idea, with the self-destructive characters fighting tooth-and-nail against their better impulses.

I liked “Billions,” but the self-destructive behaviours of the two main characters were not subtle compared to those of Tony Soprano or Don Draper or Walter White. Both of those characters know that their peccadilloes (kink and thieving greed) are unacceptable to society at large, but don’t want to change them and think society at large is a bunch of chumps. Morality doesn’t enter into it for them, except as a show for the public.

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