I’ve been watching Vikings – a TV show based around.. (no spoilers here)… a band of Vikings. These men are tough! As they raid the English shore, they delight in looting, killing, and taking slaves. The ultimate Alpha males? But how Alpha is too Alpha? How do you get an audience to watch a show where the main characters are so inherently unlikeable?
As I’ve been watching the series, it’s become clear that the main character isn’t actually unlikeable at all. While his crew are made up of men who’d kill you as soon as look at you, he’s a devoted family man. He’s fair-minded and unlike his men, he’s not quite so keen on murder for the fun of it. He’s determined as all get-out and he laughs in the face of both enemies with swords, and giant waves breaking right over his tiny boat. Yeah, he’s iron-willed to the point of ruthlessness, and doesn’t flinch from a fight. But because he’s proven himself to have a good heart, that just makes him more attractive.
I think he’s the best kind of Alpha hero. A man who knows exactly what he wants and although he won’t let anything stand in his way, his family always comes first. I’ve been drawn into the show because he’s a man I can root for, even though I dislike the men who fight with him.
Figuring out how far you can push an Alpha character before it goes too far… that’s a great trick. I think it makes TV shows and movies more interesting when they tiptoe along that line, teetering on the edge of making a character unlikeable. It’s one of the things I enjoyed most when I watched House of Cards. The interaction between Frank Underwood and Zoe Barnes was riveting. But then Frank stepped way over that line, and now I can’t help but despise him. Does that make the show any less enjoyable? Not for me, but if his true character had been obvious from the beginning I think it would have been harder to get drawn into the series.
What do you think? Do you like characters who are teetering on the dark side of grey as much as I do? I’d love to know your thoughts, so please leave a comment!