An antihero is a central character in a story who lacks traditional heroic characteristics, and Game of Thrones is full of them. Jaime Lannister, Arya Stark, the Hound, Theon Greyjoy…maybe even Cersei if you squint a little; all of them are major players in our favorite drama, and all of them have done some very questionable things.
On television, these sorts of characters were forerun by a great many other antiheroes, from Tony Soprano to Walter White to Don Draper and beyond. In some ways, the story of peak TV in the 2000s is the story of the rise of the antihero. But with the political climate in the United States and beyond more fraught by the day, is their reign coming to an end?
That was a question before Game of Thrones executive producer and former HBO president Carolyn Strauss at a PaleyLive panel discussion about CNN’s series The 2000s: A Look Back at the Dawn of TV’s New Golden Age. “There’s a totally different consciousness in the mind of viewers and the mind of the people who are buying the shows,” she said.
Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan, who was also on the panel, put it more baldly. “We need a laugh,” he said, openly wondering whether “it’s time for heroes again”…with a few caveats.
I don’t know that we can ever go back to the characters that are all good or all bad, but maybe around the corner are more characters who are flawed, who work very hard to do the right thing and who want to be good, even when they’re not.
Strauss, for her part, doesn’t sound like she — or HBO — completely agrees. “The truth is none of us are all good or all bad,” she said. “We move from dark to light…I think all of us at HBO are attracted to the grey areas.”
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