TOP TV of 2017: Why we loved these villains

2:51:00 AM

Top Tv shows 2017

Almost all the top TV shows of 2017 delivered on the villain front this year. I love a good villain, but this year was tough. We love to hate our villains, but IRL there was just so much to hate.
In fiction there isn't any doubt who the bad guy/gal is. Sure we may discuss motives, or find out right at the end, but a villain's actions are out there for all to see.
Real life villains, from the abusive spouse to the abusive man/women in charge, fictionalize their day to day. Gaslight other people. Make us doubt our eyes and feelings. The good thing about having fictional villains is not only you get to live life on the bad side, you also can use them as a lightning rod for unease and hate.
This year real life villains got the fictional treatment, they got exposed, and in such a climate writers created evil men and women that used the methods of their real life counterparts, like bending the truth. With fictional and real life villains edging closer to one another, some of the fun went out of the window.
Can you still root for the villain, and can you still make him charming?

Let's see. Here are the best villains of 2017:


Michael played by Ted Danson in the Good Place
I immediately take my words back, Michael oozes charm. If you would describe Michael to someone who has never seen the Good Place you realize he isn't much different from the thing in the Box in Twin Peaks the Return. A demon who delights in ripping off people's flesh.
But it became boring, and craving another way of torturing poor souls Michael build a fake world, to inflict psychological pain on his deserving inhabitants.
Sounds awful.
But Danson makes Michael one of the most lovable characters on TV right now. He is a comedic genius.
Seeing it's impossible to explain something so well crafted, here's snippet of my favorite episode: Michael has to learn about morality and ethics, to save his own skin (if you don't understand why, do yourself a favor and watch the Good Place) and gets to mess with Chidi, his earnest teacher.




Ed Kemper played by Cameron Britton on Mindhunter
Mindhunter and Manhunt: Unabomber came out around the same time. Both feature scenes with actors portraying real life serial killers talking to FBI agents.  In Manhunt the myth is perpetuated of serial killer Ted Kaczynki's superior mind, a highly intelligent man who can manipulate the agent interrogating him by feigning defeat, only to slam back with ice-cold whispered tidbits aimed at the agent's weakest spot.
In Mindhunter the FBI agents are in charge, they know what they are doing even if it is reckless. Too bad Ed Kemper is a runaway train, deadly and out of control, no way of stopping him, you can hop on board in the mad dash or stand to the side and see it whooshing by. It's scary because it depicts the self-containment of a sociopath. The scenes between Holden and Kemper reminded me of Grizzly man by Werner Herzog. You may think the bear is your friend, that you are special, you may camp out there, live among them, think you understand, but it won't matter, he will eat you. It also reminded me of Paul Theroux documentary in the psych ward By reason of Insanity.
Cameron Britton does a magnificent job.


Billy Hargrove played by Dacre Montgomery in Stranger Things 
So the writers of Stranger Things felt the need to add a teenage villain in Season two, because Steve had turned out to be a likable bad ass. True to the eighties they found inspiration in movies as Lost Boys, and James Spader flics where he drooled his smarmy menace all over anybody standing too close. Billy is that true asshole that we all knew in high school, all raging hormones, stupid haircut, revving Camero and burning anger in those puppy eyes.  Billy's best scene is when he changes gears, turning up the charm with Mike's mother Karen to get info on Max's whereabouts. I didn't expect Billy to be capable or anything else than his bullying ways, so seeing his eyes soften, working his creepy charm, Yikes! That was quite a performance. I hated him so much I couldn't wait for one of the dema-dogs to rip him apart. Max stabbing him with a needle was not enough. Let's hope for more inflicted pain in season three.


Perry Wright played by Alexander Skarsgard in Big Little lies.
A rather straightforward interpretation of a abusive husband, and an unflinching one. What makes the scenes of abuse so powerful is Celeste's denial, thinking she is complicit, not realizing what is happening to her. It's admirable that an actor would want to play such a scumbag. A guy with no redeeming qualities, a rapist how deserves what is coming to him. And Skarsgard does it without vanity, without turning it all up, generously letting the actresses around him take center stage. As menacing and brutal as Perry is, Alexander's performance is never showy.


Half the Cast of Twin Peaks The Return
Twin Peaks the Return offered a myriad of villains: Mr C, Richard, the woodsmen, Sarah Palmer, Bob, Diane the Tulpa, did I forget someone? Oh yes of course Chantal and Hutch Hutchens the Tarantino villains. The Tarantino/Lynch competition: who can create the best villains out there, finally found its winner; Lynch aware of that father son struggle with Tarantino dispensed with him as easily as Mr C did with his own flesh and blood Richard. It's impossible to choose a favorite villain out of the whole bunch; I hated Richard the most, 'Fuck you' Diane was the funniest, Sarah blew me away, Mother was the goriest, Bob will always be the scariest villain ever created, followed closely by the Got a light Woodsman. And Kyle Maclachan as Mr C turned out a bravura performance that hopefully will rewarded with all kinds of awards.

My favorite two villains this year were Irving played Bobby Cannavale in Mr Robot and V.M. Varga played by David Thawles in Fargo season 3
Both delivered surprising performances that made you wonder how the hell they came up with the mannerism, the voice, the subdued qualities. Without moving a muscle imposing themselves on their victims, taking over their lives, shaking their belief in objective truth. Surrounded by powerhouse performances both actors stole the show.
Thawles admitted he watched a lot of news footage to build Varga.
After turning to him for loan, Emmitt Stussy ' The parking lot king of Minnesota' and his partner Sy see Varga take over their business and life, as a piece of nasty gum stuck to their shoes. This awful man becomes inevitable, creates a universe around them that feels way off. He is relentless, and flashing his awful decaying gums he obliterates everything they believe in.
In the last scene where he finally faces off with Gloria Bugle, having been arrested, is unnerving. Gloria is convinced she has him dead to rights, Varga is finally going to pay for his sins, but he is still manipulating reality. In that scene Fargo season 3 distills the anxiety that people hoping for Trump's downfall are feeling. Will it be enough, is there a way of stopping evil when reality itself is at stake?

Irving is somewhat similar. Like Varga he belongs to the one percent, the people taking ownership of the world. But Irving is much more likable, and unlike Varga he will take matters in his own hands.
It just aired so Spoiler Alert for the finale of Mr Robot...
Didn't that scene with the hatchet remind you of Walking Dead where Negan killed Abe and Glenn?  Here we have an imposing man, in control, threatening a prisoner, choosing a victim and swinging a not so blunt object till the person is butchered. In the Walking Dead the scene was gory, ill-conceived, and Negan humor fall flat.
If you would put them side by side, The Walking Dead's would the memorable one, it's showy. But that works only for that single scene. Most people found it too violent and Negan obnoxious.
What's the takeaway from the scene in Mr Robot: Irving is awesome, he's funny, powerful, scary and in charge. It's the difference between horror and suspense, shoving a character down your throat and letting you make your own mind.
(Mr Robot did the same with Whiterose and Leon)
In the end I hope Gloria got rid of Varga and wish Irving will hurry up and finish his book in time to be back for season four of Mr Robot.

@hat are some of yours favorite villains of the year?



You Might Also Like

0 comments