By MATTHEW NASH
Over the last couple of weeks two television shows that I have followed for the last few years have come to an end. Both shows have been critically acclaimed and have had quite a cult following.
It was bittersweet knowing that I would never see the characters on these shows that I have grown so fond of. I knew in my heart that they had run their course; too often television series run a little too long and end one year too late.
Both shows featured their main characters as anti-heroes that grew darker and darker as the series progressed. In both shows the main character was always trying to stay one step ahead of the law even as the death toll rose.
As fans awaited the final episodes to air, there was great debate over what members of the cast would survive the finale. One series ended with the main character appearing to commit suicide but then turn up living a life somewhere else, the other the character died just as the police were closing in on him.
“Dexter” was the story of a boy who witnessed the brutal murder of his mother and was adopted by the police officer that discovered him in a shipping crate covered in blood. As he grew to adulthood his father realized that Dexter had a desire to kill that was caused by the trauma of watching his mother die. His father decided to channel his behavior creating a serial killer that hunted people that deserved to die.
Each season featured different scenarios that created more and more dilemmas for Dexter as he tried to live his life and be what society considered “normal.” Dexter’s sister worked with him as a detective in the Miami Metro Homicide where Dexter was a blood spatter expert. He used his job in forensics as a cover to find his eventual victims.
Several high profile guest stars appeared as the series progressed including Jimmy Smits, Edward James Olmos and John Lithgow — each would eventually end up on Dexter’s table.
“Breaking Bad” was the story of chemistry teacher Walter White who was diagnosed with lung cancer. With the anticipation of his impending death he needed to do something so his family could survive financially once he was gone. He partnered with a former student and they created a massive methamphetamine empire. Over five seasons Walt and Jesse made and lost millions of dollars.
Mr. White had to come up with more and more elaborate stories as he tried to keep his business a secret from his family. He also had to remain two steps ahead of his brother in law who was a drug enforcement agent as well as other seedy characters who were rivals in the drug trade.
In the end both main characters’ lives came crashing down as their secrets were being exposed. They could no longer hide who they were and who they had become as they tried to live normal lives out in the open while being complete sociopaths to the television viewers.
While Dexter and Walter White are responsible for several murders and the proliferation of drugs throughout the course of their respective series, they also had quite a few enviable traits. They were both very family oriented and would do anything to keep their families together. They were also both very loyal to their trusted friends and would do anything for those they were the closest to.
Over the last few years more and more television series have relied on main characters that were more like Dexter and Walter White. It seems like the trend is for rooting for the bad guy, or at least the good guy that does bad things. More and more we find ourselves hoping that the bad guy avoids the consequences that most villains have suffered in the past.
Every year new television programs come and go. Some of them are well received and turn in to hits, while others just never seem to take off. Every once in a while there are a couple of shows that capture that special something that keeps viewers like me coming back week after week. I don’t know if there will ever be a couple of characters like Dexter or Walter White ever again.
— Matthew Nash can be reached at email@example.com