Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Falling For Those Anti-Heroes

by Beth

One of the best things I've ever done is get a subscription to Netflix. Not only does it have loads of movies and TV shows available, but it also has the feature where you can watch certain movies/TV shows instantly on your computer or, if you have a Netflix ready device, you can stream them directly to your TV (we use our Xbox live account).

It's because of this wonderful device that I now have a new addiction:

Leverage. (It's a TV show on TNT *g*)

Now, believe me, I could go on and on about how much I love this show. The acting. The character arcs. The story lines. But I won't. For today, I'm going to concentrate on one of the main reasons I am so crazy about this show:

The men!

The three male characters are all sexy, smart, funny and have that certain edge about them that makes them dangerous - and appealing (in a purely fantasy sort of way *g*)

Nate Ford, played by Timothy Hutton, is an ex-insurance investigator who is now the leader of a band of thieves who help their clients go up against everyone from dirty politicians to corrupt businessmen to mobsters. Nate is clever and devious and can usually outsmart just about any adversary. He's also cynical, battling alcoholism (a battle he usually loses) and filled with bitterness over the death of his young son.

Alec Hardison, played by Aldis Hodge, is an expert computer hacker. Well, calling Hardison simply a computer hacker doesn't exactly do his skills justice, not when he can break any code, create new identities or even alter surveillance video. He's proud of his geekiness, freaks out at violence and at times, has let his team down (like when he missed a mission because he was up all night playing video games).

Eliot Spencer, played by Christian Kane, is what the show calls a Retrieval Specialist, but really, he's the firm's muscle. He can take out an entire gang of bad guys all with just his fists. He hates guns, is soft spoken and is an excellent cook. Oh, and did I mention that he totally kicks ass?

Now, on paper, these guys don't exactly come across as 'hero' material but that's only if you haven't watched the show. Because if you have seen even just one episode, you'd know that Nate may be lost and angry at the world but his sense of justice, his desire to help those in need is stronger than his desire to self-destruct.

Hardison may make mistakes, but he always makes it up to his team and he takes his job of gathering the Intel the team will need to work their cons seriously. He may complain and get cold feet sometimes, but he always pulls through in the end.

Eliot keeps his emotions bottled up but he has a soft spot for his ex-girlfriend and horses (not necessarily in that order *g*). He may get knocked down, but he always gets back up.

So, we have three men who are less than perfect and yet, they're growing and changing, turning into better men right before our eyes. And isn't that what some of the best heroes do? :-)

Who are some of your favorite anti-heroes in film, TV or books? What TV shows are you currently loving? Are there any other Leverage fans out there?


Jane said...

Hi Beth,
I've heard a lot about Leverage, but haven't seen it. My favorite antihero is Don Draper from Mad Men, but you can't help caring about his character. I'm currently loving Justified(on FX) and In Plain Sight.

Helen said...

Well done Jane what are your plans for him today.


I don't watch much TV at all and haven't seen Leverage but I say it sounds really good and I agree that the Guys in this show sound very much like some of the heros we read and love.

Have Fun

Anna Sugden said...

Great post, Beth - I can see I'll have to look out for Leverage!

We've just had Netflix launch over here as LoveFilm.com.

I seem to like a few anti-heroes/anti-heroines *g*. Shark, played by James Woods, was fantastic. I was gutted when they cancelled the show after only two seasons. The writing on the show was excellent and his character was so cleverly crafted.

I also really like Saving Grace - the Holly Hunter character is another well-crafted one. She pushes the boundaries to the edge in every episode and yet you can't help rooting for her.

Dennis Franz, from NYPD Blue, is another one. As is Kyra Sedgwick from The Closer.

At the moment I'm reliving the joy that was The West Wing and wishing I could do that kind of snappy writing. I'm waiting for series 2 of Castle to be available too. And, I enjoy a British series called New Tricks (as in can't teach an old dog ...) - kind of a cold case meets Space Cowboys series.

Which reminds me of another great anti-hero - a detective called Andy Dalziel in the UK series Dalziel and Pascoe.

I keep meaning to catch Dexter too - now there is the ultimate anti-hero!

Donna MacMeans said...

Hi Beth -

My duaghter turned me on to Leverage - it's a great show, though I haven't seen a lot of the episodes. I don't watch a great deal of TV, but I do veg out after Zumba class with Castle and The Big Bang Theory (love the geeks).

Suzanne Welsh said...

Oh, Beth, I adore Leverage! It's on my Divo list so I won't miss an episode while at work.

And all three guys tug at my...er...heart strings, yep that's it!

And while Harrdison is the cool geek, isn't his crush on Parker just the best? And I haven't figured out if she realizes it and is playing him along, or just hasn't gotten it, yet?

Another favorite anti-hero of mine is Val Kilmer's Doc Holliday. OH MAMA! Yummo, and even though I know ole Doc is gonna succumb to his lung ailment, he is just too sexy by far! What makes him sexy to me? His unquestionable loyalty to his one true friend, Wyatt Earp.

Beth said...

Good morning, Jane! Congrats on nabbing the rooster. What do you two have planned for the day?

I've seen bits and pieces of Mad Men and Don Draper seems like a very complex anti-hero. Lots of layers to that character *g*

And I've been wanting to see both Justified and In Plain Sight! I'll have to add IPS to my Netflix queue :-)

Beth said...

Hi, Helen. Leverage really is a great show - I think you'd enjoy it *g*

Over the last few years, the number of shows I watch on TV each week has declined, which is another reason I love Netflix. It helps me get caught up on all the great shows I've missed (and I've missed so many!)

Plus, it helps me get on the treadmill if I know I have something fun to watch :-)

Beth said...

I seem to like a few anti-heroes/anti-heroines *g*

LOL, Anna! I would've guessed that about you mainly because we always seem to have similar tastes *g*

I never saw Shark but I have seen Saving Grace and I loved it! Also love The Closer and I adored NYPD Blue *g*

And of course, two of my very favorite anti-heroes are Angel and Spike! Because really, the more complex a hero, the more fun for us!

Beth said...

LOL, Donna! Here, things are reversed as I've turned my younger daughter on to Leverage *g* She loves a good mystery/caper and is all about characters so she's loving it as much as I do!

I don't think I've regularly watched a comedy since...well...I did watch The Office for a year or two and before that it was Friends and Seinfeld but it's been a while.

I'll definitely have to check out The Big Bang theory for some laughs! Or maybe Modern Family. That looks pretty funny :-)

Terry Odell said...

Haven't watched Leverage -- don't watch much TV, but if you want to see how to care about an anti-hero, read the John Rain series by Barry Eisler.

Beth said...

And while Harrdison is the cool geek, isn't his crush on Parker just the best?

Yes! Suz, I love the Hardison/Parker storyline. And I'm with you, I can't figure out if she knows or not but I think, due to her childhood, she doesn't even see what's in front of her *g*

And all three men are so devoted to the firm and to each other, I just can't get enough of any of them!

Trish Milburn (Tricia Mills) said...

I totally agree about Netflix. In fact, I just got the first disc of a show I missed during its original run -- Freaks & Geeks.

I've heard good things about Leverage and want to see it too. I like Christian Kane, since his Angel days, and liked Aldis's short run on Supernatural.

I think my favorite anti-hero has to be Captain Mal Reynolds from Firefly/Serenity. Also like Angel and Spike from Buffy/Angel, Sawyer from LOST, V in V for Vendetta, Wolverine from The X-Men. I've also been recently intrigued by Dr. Rush on Stargate Universe and the new character, Kyle Hobbes, on V.

Trish Milburn (Tricia Mills) said...

Suz, I agree, Val Kilmer was awesome as Doc Holliday. I need to watch that movie again. Another western anti-hero -- Ben Wade (Russell Crowe) in 3:10 to Yuma.

Trish Milburn (Tricia Mills) said...

Beth, I just realized I don't really watch sitcoms anymore either, unless you count Glee. I do watch The Daily Show, which usually has me laughing.

Nancy said...

Jane, congrats on the rooster!

Beth, I have to confess I'm not entirely sure what distinguishes a hero from an anti-hero. If we're going with bad boys whose morals are a bit flexible, I'd pick Neil Caffery on White Collar.

Wolverine, definitely.

I know there are others in books and movies, but I have to go teach. I'll mull it over for when I come back.

Virginia said...

Congras Jane, have fun with him!

I haven't watched Leverage, but maybe I should check it out! My favorite shows right now are The Good Wife, Bones, Saving Grace, and Castle, can't miss this one!

Beth said...

Hey, Terry! Thanks for the suggestion! I just checked out Barry Eisler's website and the books sound fabulous :-)

Beth said...

Trish, I loved Captain Mal! And they just added Firefly to the shows that can be watched instantly and you can bet it's already in my queue *g*

And my daughters and I have watched halfway through the first season of Glee and we love it! The only problem is we'll only watch it together and trying to get two teenagers home at the same time is slowing our efforts to finish the season :-)

Beth said...

Beth, I have to confess I'm not entirely sure what distinguishes a hero from an anti-hero.

Hey, Nancy. I'm not sure if everyone would agree with my definition but from what little research I've done, an anti-hero is someone who has qualities normally given to villains (selfishness, greed, issues with anger) tempered by more human emotions such as guilt or doubt or loyalty to those he loves.

So I'd say many of the heroes we love are really anti-heroes since there are very few characters who are all good with no issues to overcome. Maybe the issues of the anti-hero are just harder for readers/viewers to get past?

Another of my favorite anti-heroes is Logan from Veronica Mars. He's spoiled, a snob and has serious anger management issues but there were so many times when I couldn't help but fall for him. Especially when it came to his feelings for Veronica.

Beth said...

Virginia, I highly recommend Leverage. The new seasons starts in June when many of the other shows are on hiatus so it's a good time to check out something new *g*

Another Castle fan! I do believe the lair is filled with those :-)

Christie Kelley said...

Beth, great post but I can't think of a single anti-hero right now. Must be lack of oxygen from the walk in the pollen.

But I love Netflix. I bought my husband a blu-ray player for his birthday that is Netflix enabled. So we can watch any of the instant plays on our big TV!

jo robertson said...

OMG, Beth, what a great post! I, too am in love with this show, coming up on its third season, I believe, and I've watched every epi from the start.

My two faves are Addison (he's hysterical) and Eliot. If you haven't watched these episodes from the start, rent Season 1 to see how the team all came together. It's perfect!

Trish Milburn (Tricia Mills) said...

Yes, Logan from VM. Loved him, loved that show, still ticked it was canceled.

PJ said...

I've never been big into anti-heroes but I've heard good things about Leverage. Might have to check that out. Usually, the television is just nice background noise for me as I lose myself in a good book. :)

Kim in Hawaii said...

I enjoy Leverage as well as USA's Burn Notice. I prefer "cable" TV to "network" TV.

Gillian Layne said...

Sherlock Holmes in the Laurie R King books. Russell, his wife, puts up with a serious amount of antisocial behavior from the man, but they are perfect for each other.

Sebastian St. Vincent in A Devil in Winter was a self-centered mess who shaped up very nicely.

On TV, we stick with White Collar, Royal Pains, Big Bang Theory, and NCIS. Most of the heroes in those shows are far from perfect.

Louisa Cornell said...

Have fun with the GR, Jane !! Hey GR Jane! Sounds like a combat movie. Don't tell the feathered one I said that. Since p226 turned him on to explosives he likes to make things go BOOM !!

Great post, Beth. I haven't seen Leverage, but I have watched Dexter and I love his whole anti-hero persona.

Trish !!! I LOVE those two western anti-heroes you mentioned - Val Kilmer as Doc Holliday was amazing and Russell Crowe's Ben Wade was a treat to watch.

For manipulative evil you can't beat Kevin Spacey's Jim Williams in Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.

I agree with Gillian about Sebastian St. Vincent, especially if you read the first book in the series and see what a rotter he is in that one.

How about Gary Oldman's Dracula? Insidious, but romantic.

And how can anyone forget Gerard Butler's Phantom?? SWOON !!

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Hey Beth! I love this series! I watch it whenever I can. I'm going to either netflix it or buy the series on DVD.

It reminds me of the best of the really old Mission Impossible movies, and a modern take on Robin Hood. Grins.

And you're right...the MEN! Wheeee! Tim Hutton has never been my fav in terms of looks, but his character is superb. The other two, I'm totally perving over, esp. Eliot. Grins. You would have guessed that, right?

Did you see the one in fasion design? With the Tim Hutton character as an over-the-top designer? SO funny.

Hey Jane! Congrats on getting the GR!

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Anna, I loved Shark too, and adore Holly Hunter in Saving Grace. She's such a work in progress in her rough, tough way. I just love it.

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Suz, I think the Hardison/Parker dynamic is very cool and I've wondered teh same thing you did.

Also, hey, Kilmer as Doc Holliday? His best role EVAH! "I'll be your huckleberry..."

Suzanne Welsh said...

Trish, I just watched 3:10 to Yuma again the other night. Crowe was fabulous as the anti hero, and Christian Bale gave a powerful performance as the desperate father. His character wasn't all that squeaky clean, either.

Suzanne Welsh said...

Okay, a literary anti hero...

Viscount St. Vincent in "The Devil In Winter" by Lisa Kleypas.

Suzanne Welsh said...

Oh and Jame Mallory the Pirate brother in Johanna Lindsey's Mallory brothers series. Yummy!

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Hey Beth, FUN post and very yummy eye-candy!

I'm with Helen and Terry, don't watch much TV. I have been watching Lost but only because it is the last season. Sawyer has ALWAYS been my FAVE! ;-) I do like Castle when I remember to watch, and Grey's Anatomy, though the latter has fallen into too much sappy melodrama lately.

I LURVE Netflix! We just watched Up In The Air last night via Netflix. GREAT movie! If you haven't seen it yet, DO!


Beth said...

Christie, sorry to hear about the pollen-laden walk :-( I think we could all use a good soaking rain to clear the air *g*

But you've nailed the reason I love Netflix - we can stream the movies to the big TV. And my kids use it as well. The last time my son had friends over to watch a movie, they ended up watching comics on Netflix :-)

Louisa Cornell said...

Oh and VraiAnna count me in as a fan of Shark !! I was so disappointed when they canceled it. Smart, snappy writing and great acting.

PJ said...

I guess I should clarify. That would be anti-heroes on film. In my romance books? Well, those anti-heroes are a different story. St. Vincent. James Mallory. Adrik Wilder. (from Christina Dodd's Into the Shadow)


Beth said...

Jo, I'm almost done with season one. It's taking me some time because I'm now re-watching a few of the episodes with my daughter so she can get caught up *g* We have plans to watch another episode when she gets home from track practice :-)

Love the first episode! And the Bank Job. And Juror 6. And The Stork. So many to love :-)

Beth said...

Yes, Logan from VM. Loved him, loved that show, still ticked it was canceled

I've only caught up with it via DVD, Trish. But I really did love it. And I found some great songs from the soundtrack :-)

Beth said...

Usually, the television is just nice background noise for me as I lose myself in a good book

PJ, this is the reason I watch via Netflix or DVD. When I sit down with my husband to watch TV, I let him have the remote since I'm always reading *g*

Beth said...

I prefer "cable" TV to "network" TV.

Hey, Kim! It seems most of the shows I want to watch are all on cable. And I was finishing up my workout and flipping through the channels and saw a really cute promo for a show on Starz called Party Down which looks too funny. I'll have to check it out :-)

Beth said...

On TV, we stick with White Collar, Royal Pains, Big Bang Theory, and NCIS. Most of the heroes in those shows are far from perfect.

Hi, Gillian! Aren't those imperfections part of what make them so great? Or maybe it just how they deal with their imperfections *g*

My youngest used to be a HUGE NCIS fan but is now all about Criminal Minds. Which is tough because she's really too young for many of the episodes but she's all about solving mysteries.

Beth said...

And how can anyone forget Gerard Butler's Phantom?? SWOON !!

Great list, Louisa! And I hope I don't get kicked out of the lair for admitting this but...I've never seen Phantom Of The Opera. I'll have to add it to my queue *g*

Beth said...

Tim Hutton has never been my fav in terms of looks, but his character is superb.

LOL, Jeanne! I almost did my post on how appealing I find Timothy Hutton in Leverage when I've never had much of a thing for him before. I've only seen him in a few movies but the ones that stick out for me, French Kiss and Beautiful Girls, his characters did nothing but annoy me *g*

But as Nate Ford? He's fabulous! And half the time his hair isn't even combed :-)

Haven't seen the fashion episode yet. Still working my way through season one and am now backtracking since I've dragged my daughter into my latest obsession *g*

Beth said...

Oh and Jame Mallory the Pirate brother in Johanna Lindsey's Mallory brothers series.

Oohh...great pick, Suz! Johanna Lindsey was my first Must Buy Author *g*

And I just thought of one of my favorite anti-heroines, Sugar Beth from SEP's Ain't She Sweet.

Beth said...

AC, I've been wanting to see Up In the Air! Thanks for the suggestion *g*

Unfortunately, our Netflix DVDs are on a standstill because my daughters and I have Glee here to watch but, as I mentioned, are having a hard time find a TIME to watch it :-)

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, Jane, well done on the chook! Had to laugh about Mad Men. I watched the first series but it was just too dark for me - Don was fascinating but repellent in about equal measures.

Beth, what a great post. I'm actually hooked on a stack of US TV shows at the moment - and not the sort of stuff I used to get hooked on at all. I must say, though, that most of the involve man candy. Hey, who called me shallow? I love Bones, Criminal Minds and Burn Notice (at last my DVD rental place has the second series, I can't wait, loved the first series!).

Anna Campbell said...

Oh, meant to say I haven't watched Leverage but it's on our cable TV here. Should check it out.

Ooh, Val Kilmer as Doc Holiday. I'll be your huckleberry! He was amazing!

Oh, and the good news is at last I'll get to see Castle. I've been waiting for season one to hit my DVD people too and it just has! Can't wait!

MsHellion said...

Severus Snape is my favorite anti-hero, but I suspect a lot of this has to do with Alan Rickman. (Though I cried in book 7 of Harry Potter for Snape. That sigh out loud scene where he says, "Always.")

I have not heard of Leverage, but I can see the draw. *LOL*

The closest thing I have to an anti-hero in the shows I've been watching is Baze in Life Unexpected. He's the bar-owning, irresponsible father of a teenager who he finds out who was put up for adoption but never adopted. He's hot, rough around the edges, and horribly broken.

And when you compare him to Ryan, the heroine's fiance who is practically perfect in every way, Baze should come out looking bad, but you can't help but root for him and want him and the heroine to get back together. It's killer.

Nancy said...

Beth, that sounds like a good definition of an anti-hero. Han Solo would qualify, I think.

Pat Cochran said...

I've watched a couple of Leverage
shows but I've not been that taken
with them. I loved the casts of
Hill Street Blues and NYPD Blue.
Favorite shows: Closer, Bones,
Mentalist, White Collar, In Plain
Sight, Burn Notice.
Fave characters: Seeley Booth, Neil
Caffrey, Peter Burke, Patrick Jane,
Michael Westen, Horatio Caine.

Pat Cochran

Tawny said...

My favorite Anti-Hero?

Captain Jack Sparrow, of course *g*

'nuff said...

Beth said...

Anna, I love Bones and Criminal Minds and we've caught a few episodes of Burn Notice which we thought was great!

The hardest part about having Netflix is choosing what to watch next. I'm trying to behave and watch both seasons of Leverage before I move on to something new but it's not always easy when there are so many great shows out there *g*

Beth said...

And when you compare him to Ryan, the heroine's fiance who is practically perfect in every way, Baze should come out looking bad, but you can't help but root for him and want him and the heroine to get back together. It's killer.

Oh, that sounds right up my alley! I'll definitely have to look up Life Unexpected. Thanks, Hellion!

And speaking of anti-heroes, I'm going to give a shout-out to Roswell's Michael (oh, how I loved Michael!) and though I've only caught two episodes of the Vampire Diaries, I'd say the vampire brothers are very intriguing anti-heroes :-)

Beth said...

Han Solo would qualify, I think.

I agree, Nancy! And Hans is a wonderful example of character growth, too, isn't he? *g*

Cassondra said...

Hey Beth,

I don't see TV, so no TNT or Leverage for me, though the premise of this show sounds like one I'd absolutely love!

It's been a long time since I fell for an anti-hero. I guess I'd put Magnum PI in that category, because of his scars and his tendencies to go about things in a not-so-legal way at times. That said, your descriptions of these men make them sound compellingly flawed. And thus, so much more human than the supermen we often see on screen.

Although when an otherwise violent hero hates guns, ala McGuyver (can't remember if I've spelled that right or not), it always comes across as a bit of a "producer's and writer's political agenda" rather than realistic for me, and pegs my BS radar into the red a little. Those in the know used to make silly jokes aobut his saving the day every week with a Swiss Army Knife--went a bit far for the battle-trained I guess. But I should get off my reality high horse and cut them some slack. ;0) I'd actually be interested to know whether this actor (and the writers who put him in that position) could pull this off and make me believe it.

I'm presently reading a book about writing the anti-hero, so I LOVE the timing of your blog Now I want to see this show. *pout over not having tv*

And I have to admit, your guys look scrumptious. But what about those ladies? Are they also bad to the bone heroines?

Oh...as I read your description I had a flashback to The Equalizer. Anybody remember that show? Sounds like there are some common themes here.

Beth said...

Hey, Pat! Great list of fave shows and characters! Thanks for sharing :-)

Beth said...

Captain Jack Sparrow, of course *g*

LOL! I'm surprised you're the first to mention him, Tawny *g*

Cassondra said...

Jane, congrats on the GR!!!

Beth said...

Hey, Cassondra! Actually, there are many parts of Leverage that are, to be honest, unbelievable. But that's okay with me. It's (sometimes campy) fun, the dialogue is great and there's real character growth.

Then again, I'm happy to suspend my disbelief when it comes to fiction *g*

As for the women, yes they are flawed. Parker (the blonde) is a thief with few social skills and from what I can tell, no conscience. While Sophie is devious and an accomplished liar (she's a Grifter *g*)

All five are wonderfully flawed and I do think that's what makes them so great to watch :-)

Nancy said...

Beth, yes, Han really did grow and change. I liked him much better by the end of Return of the Jedi.

Nancy said...

Cassondra, I remember Magnum, P.I. It used to be sacrosanct TV time for me. My Thursday night used to be Magnum, P.I., Simon & Simon, and Hill Street Blues, and woe be unto anyone who phoned me for something unimportant.

Lady_Graeye said...

I love Leaverage! Christain Kane is awesome. He's rough and tough, my kind of man. Yummy. Timothy Hutton couldn't be any better. His role as Nate Ford is the best. My other favorite show "Saving Grace is in it final episodes which makes me sad. I can't wait until Sons of Anarchy returns! I have my DVR set to tape it all these shows whenever I can't watch them.

Beth said...

Thanks for stopping by, Lady Graeye! Sorry to hear one of your favorites is in it's last season - hopefully you'll find another show to take its place :-)