Comic Talk and General Discussion *

Comedy Antiheros
Ozoneocean at 8:40PM, Aug. 17, 2016
posts: 28,884
joined: 1-2-2004
I LOVE a good antihero. My faves are characters like Tankgirl and Flashman- they're selfish, greedy, violent, lustful, they're out for their own needs first but they still manage to do the “right” thing and vanquish the bad guy along the way regardless.
I try to add aspects of that to Pinky when I can… Though at heart she IS an idealist.
Pitface's Bones is an antihero too, but without the idealism…

They're very much like the Greek, Roman and Norse Gods in that way. All those gods were absolute shits in most regards, but that made them more human. In fact those gods were more human than most humans…

I think that to be a well successful antihero though you have to make the audience like them! It's not enough just to make them do bad things and be the main character, we have to identify with them in some way, but we also have to admire something about them: their intelligence, their sexiness, their charm, their luck…
And not ALL of those aspects, just one or two things is enough.

BlackAdder is a good example of an antihero, but in the 4 series some versions of him work better than others. The first on failed because he's utterly unlikeable. He's a dork, he's ugly, his plans hardly ever work out, even his stupid subordinates are marginally smarter than him…
The second version of him in Series 2 was handsome, cool, charming, intelligent and his plans DID sometimes work out. THAT marked the period where Blackadder started to click and work as a concept.

Lately I've been watching the series Last Man on Earth with Will Forte as the main character. He follows the anihero mold, but as the show goes on he becomes less likeable. And I think that's a failure to use the concept correctly.
-Initially we identify with him because that's how WE would react as the last person on earth. Then he meets another person, and we like him because he has a “doesn't give a fuck” attitude that is very appealing. He's selfish, venal, and lazy, but it's a charming package because he's not embarrassed about that and he flouts the old conventions of civilisation that the other survivor sticks to in a silly way.
But as he meets more people he becomes too self concious. He fails in every way and there's nothing likeable about him anymore, he just represents a failed version of ourselves…
Will Forte's MacGruber though IS a likeable ahntihero.

So anyway, what do you think are the things that a good comedy antihero needs? :)
bravo1102 at 9:14PM, Aug. 17, 2016
posts: 6,145
joined: 1-21-2008
Stanley Tweedle from Lexx, any Bob Hope character, Groucho Marx.

All were unlikable that you end up liking despite yourself. They are nasty, insulting nebishes that at times you want to smack up the side of the head. Hapless and annoying mixing those two hero types. Hapless and antihero.

With the second series Black Adder hit upon the idea of the only sane man in a world of fools. Rather than he being the annoying fool in a harsh world, he was the harsh one in a world of fools; whether Elizabeth, the Prince Regent or the First World War (that's whole antihero genre in itself)

I just ate up the interviews and commentary in the Black Adder boxed set. And how they came up with the conclusion with the time traveling.
last edited on Aug. 17, 2016 9:18PM
Banes at 9:39PM, Aug. 17, 2016
posts: 673
joined: 8-13-2008
Another interesting topic!

If the antihero is funny (as implied by the title “comedy antihero”), that goes a long way. Characters can even go beyond antihero if they're funny enough (can we describe the ‘It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia' characters as antiheroes? They're absolutely horrible people who should be sent to a remote island and left there.

And yet they're hilarious. Maybe in that case, the fact that they almost always end up on the losing end in their stories helps. Of course, sometimes they're just victimizing each other, and some of them win…

The Breaking Bad creator has said that he worked hard to make Walter White likeable at the beginning, and worried about people hating him as he became more and more “bad”. But it seems that many people stayed on Mr. White's side the whole way through. Or even if they knew he had gone off his rocker, were still rooting for him and were invested in his journey.

So…I think you're right, is what I'm saying XD

Deadpool! Good movie. Not great, but good. I was with the character the whole way, and cared about him. He was somewhere between funny and annoying, and the actor is one I've never liked. I think the amount the character SUFFERED helped there. Maybe that's another way to make your antihero likeable…put 'em through the ringer!

last edited on Aug. 17, 2016 9:40PM
Ozoneocean at 9:40PM, Aug. 17, 2016
posts: 28,884
joined: 1-2-2004
Stanley Tweedle is a good example- he's likeable because he's adorable somehow, even though he represents a nasty failed version of us. Like Jerry Lewis, but without being annoying.

Bob Hope and Groucho are arch… But well meaning people nevertheless, though they outwardly pretend to be antiheros, they're still generous and giving people really.

In Black Adder, “being the only sane one in a world of fools” wasn't my favourite aspect of the show. BlackAdder 3 and 4 went more with that idea and it simplified things a little too much for me.
In Blackadder 2 he's more a part OF his world than a man standing slightly outside of it like in 3 and 4. He's still a fool like everybody else but a cooler one.
In 3 and 4 he's not on the same level as the other characters anymore, he looks at them and despairs.
last edited on Aug. 17, 2016 9:53PM
Ozoneocean at 9:57PM, Aug. 17, 2016
posts: 28,884
joined: 1-2-2004
@Banes- Making the antihero an underdog? :)
That gains sympathy for them from us, which can be good if it's done in the right way. Giving them the punishment they deserve is good as long as not taken too far.
If taken too fat they are made to look pathetic and that turns people off. Same with sympathy.

Having them WIN though is great too because they represent us and we're happy when they succeed.
Winning too much is unlikeable as well, that's why I prefer George over Seinfeld: Jerry wins too much, George wins but less often.
A character that never wins is as bas as one that always does.
last edited on Aug. 17, 2016 10:15PM
bravo1102 at 11:22PM, Aug. 17, 2016
posts: 6,145
joined: 1-21-2008
ozoneocean wrote:
In 3 and 4 he's not on the same level as the other characters anymore, he looks at them and despairs.

That is probably why I identify so much with the character.

The thing about Groucho as opposed to Bob Hope is that he was often shown to do a nice thing in spite of himself. Like Bugs Bunny saying “I'll do it but I'll hate myself in the morning” when performing a good deed.
KimLuster at 7:23AM, Aug. 18, 2016
posts: 795
joined: 5-15-2012
A friend of our used to read Lobo, and I would peruse his collection here and there…!! Lobo is a genocidal maniac, and from what I understand, he was largely intended to be a parody of the dark and grim popular anti-heroes of the 90s… and ironically he became popular in his own right…

And I enjoyed reading about him, and I don't know why. His casual brutality, his bizarre foul-language (fetal gizz, bastich, frag…) is so over-the-top juvenile…! He's the ultimate bad boy!! I hear they may make a movie about him… Not sure how good that'd be - like a interstellar Deadpool, maybe…
Bruno Harm at 10:07AM, Aug. 19, 2016
posts: 122
joined: 10-18-2015
The world has had a love affair with Anti-heroes for decades now. I think that's why these Superman movies keep tanking. We don't seem to need heroes to aspire to be anymore. We want to relate to them. So why aren't we rooting for athletes that cheat?
How bad are our Anti Heroes Really? Is it just their crass attitude? Is it that they murder people(for the right reasons)? What can and can't they do before losing the name “hero” all together?
bravo1102 at 7:19PM, Aug. 19, 2016
posts: 6,145
joined: 1-21-2008
We want to find flaws in our heroes so we can relate to them. We constantly looking for ways to humanize heroes. That goes back at least as far to Greek drama. To tell a story and the audience involved you have to make the protagonist relatable. In our post modern age this often means turning them in on themselves and making them an antihero.

I subbed for enough English classes when teaching to remember that much. Then there were all those writer's workshops and classes. You can probably find the curriculum notes online about making heroes into antiheroes and vice versa.

And relating the antihero paradigm to real life heroes and so on.
There was a few good articles on this when the miniseries The Pacific premiered. Two of the main characters were local NJ heroes and one had a well known and very influential memoir so there were kinds of comparisons made and long discourse on their traits as hero and antihero. Similarly, I saw the Australian miniseries ANZACS and in the making of special there was another discussion of hero (the main protagonist) versus the antics of the diggers shown in the character played by Paul Hogan.

And of course the comical antics of the conniving digger entrepreneur. Then there are the full range of hero and antihero in the classic war comedy Kelly's Heroes

last edited on Aug. 19, 2016 7:31PM
Ozoneocean at 10:41PM, Aug. 19, 2016
posts: 28,884
joined: 1-2-2004
For me it's about making comedy antiheros likeable… Because it's easy to despise them. There are a lot of comedy antihero characters that we don't relate to and so they fail and their shows tank.
I don't think it's that easy to manage, the formula for getting it right is hard…

Look at Al Bundy. At points we sympathise with him as the poor douche cuckold, working in a crappy job, doing things he hates for an ungrateful family. We root for him when he gets one over on his family, neighbours, and wife and celebrate his craftiness.
But we also despise him for how pathetic, weak, and mean he is.
By the end of the show I think he was a shitty, despicable character and Peg was was better.

I don't think that just being an antihero makes a successful character or that giving them certain character traits and behaviours does either… A really complicated, shifting balance is needed.
Normal hero type characters have it a little easier- there still have to be a balance so they stay human and relatable though.
bravo1102 at 11:10PM, Aug. 19, 2016
posts: 6,145
joined: 1-21-2008
Except that when the show was at the height of its popularity most American men watching it identified very strongly with Al. He may not have been likable but everyone knew someone just like him. He was the guy next to you on the barstool who just bitched too much and didn't realize just how good he had because the glass was always half empty. So you'd buy him another round because you felt sorry for him. Guess you really had to have been there to see and talk to all the AL Bundys.

Al epitomizes what was good and bad with America at that time just the same that another comic antihero was the icon for the early 1970s. Archie Bunker. We all knew one. He sat on that barstool next to you and in some places he still does. An American icon that maybe you have to be an American to identify with as opposed to just despise.
last edited on Aug. 19, 2016 11:19PM
Ozoneocean at 3:59AM, Aug. 20, 2016
posts: 28,884
joined: 1-2-2004
What I meant Bravo was that his character changed and progressed on the show.
We DID really like him at one stage, but as the show went on towards the end the balance shifted.
He got more pathetic, meaner, stupider, and people no longer identified with him or even liked him that much.

I'm saying that a character like that isn't just one set of traits and then you're done with them:
They naturally have a LOT of things about them that would make you hate them normally, which is why they're an anti-hero.

Those have to be carefully offset by a bunch of other things in different amounts, which shift a lot depending on how they react to different situations, how successful they are and how they interact with other characters. If you get it wrong you have an anti-hero that is just an unlikeable shit.

-Even Archie Bunker went through changes, he wasn't a static character through the length of the show.
last edited on Aug. 20, 2016 4:00AM
bravo1102 at 8:00PM, Aug. 20, 2016
posts: 6,145
joined: 1-21-2008
Interesting point. I say that towards the end of the series Al was no longer the anti-hero but the antagonist. The whole focus of the show had shifted from him as victim to him as actively trying to stop the activities of other characters who had evolved to become likable.

Many critics agree that the big change for Archie Bunker was the death of Edith. Each successive ethnic neighbor going on to get their spin-off had also changed him. And the times were changing. The network wanted him to be more likable, Maureen Stapleton wanted to leave the show, Carroll O'Connor wanted to play a more sympathetic character so it changed. Amazing how natural it all seemed in the pages of TV Guide and now meta it looks to us now.

It's amazing that when talking about a TV show changing it is often because what is happening behind the screen and that becomes reflected in the show as opposed to a natural story arc.

At what point does an anti-hero become the antagonist? What about antagonist as comic anti-hero? Is Despicable Me really ever so despicable?
EssayBee at 11:45AM, Oct. 6, 2016
posts: 160
joined: 11-10-2009
My fave would have to be Ash Williams from Evil Dead: a selfish buffoon whose only saving grace is that he's good at killing Deadites. And the evil he has to fight is pretty much always unleashed because of his stupidity. Still, he cracks me up, and takes more abuse than most heroes. And he even developed some honest emotion and care for his companions in the first season of Ash vs. Evil Dead, so he shows the capacity for a bit of character growth.

I also really like Clint Eastwood's Man With No Name. Pretty much the epitome of anti-hero.

And I also agree with previous comments about Archie Bunker. There's a guy whose heart ultimately outshines his ignorance.
last edited on Oct. 6, 2016 11:48AM
Ozoneocean at 4:47AM, Oct. 13, 2016
posts: 28,884
joined: 1-2-2004
bravo1102 wrote:
Interesting point. I say that towards the end of the series Al was no longer the anti-hero but the antagonist. The whole focus of the show had shifted from him as victim to him as actively trying to stop the activities of other characters who had evolved to become likable.
Well said!
And I had not looked at it in quite that way :)

For me the Despicable Me guy became utterly despicable the more time he gave to those horrible minions. UGH!!!!!

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