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New Escapist Column! On “Better Call Saul” as Fitting Eulogy to the Television Antihero…

I published a new In the Frame piece at Escapist Magazine this evening. Better Call Saul wrapped up its fifth season this week, and so it was worth taking a look at the Breaking Bad prequel.

To a certain extent, Better Call Saul seems like a show out of step with the times. It is set in the early days of the twenty-first century. It has never become the ratings or awards juggernaut that Breaking Bad became. It has a strong critical following, but never truly broke out into the wider culture in the way that Breaking Bad did. None of this is a judgment on the show itself. After all, Better Call Saul premiered at a time that television was already pushing away from those antihero dramas.

However, that status as show that exists at the tail end of a broader cultural trend allows Better Call Saul a greater degree of creative freedom. It offers a reflective meditation on the kind of antiheroes that populated so much of the so-called “Golden Age of Television.” These masculine archetypes are easy to galmourise, even when shows are unambiguous about their flaws. The beauty of Better Call Saul lies in creating an antihero who is harder to fetishise. Saul is not Walter White or Tony Soprano or Al Swearengen. He is a lot more tragic, a lot more pathetic.

This is the beauty of Better Call Saul, the angle that allows the show to feel like a true coda to the kind of stories that dominated prestige television for well over a decade. You can read the piece here, or click the picture below.

 

Ever Ben Lost?

I have mixed feelings about the Emmy awards. On one hand Bryan Cranston is awesome, but on the other Hugh Laurie is due a statue, albeit probably not for this lacklustre year. On one hand 24 deserved recognition, but on the other Anne Wersching was the best actress on the show – certainly not Cherry Jones. it was awesome to see Brendan Gleeson get some over due love. And there is one decision I’m glad that the Academy made. Michael Emerson deserved an award for his role of everyone’s favourite sociopath.

Ben, the two of us need look no more… We both found what we were looking for.

Where have you, Ben?

Where have you, Ben?

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