Complex TV: Character


My time in Germany is almost up, as we return to Vermont in early July. It’s been a productive writing year, with around 80% of Complex TV completed and a few other projects underway. Here is the last chapter of Complex TV to be posted from Germany, with the remaining chapters emerging over the Vermont summer.

This one is a long chapter, focused on the topic of television characters. It may be long because the topic is comparatively underexplored within media studies – or perhaps because I simply had too much to say about Breaking Bad. I particularly welcome any thoughts you might have about cutting down the length – I might be publishing the Breaking Bad case study as a book chapter, so I’m curious how much of it could be shifted to that chapter and cut from this one. Here’s the abstract:

This chapter considers how serial characters work within the constraints of the television medium and the limits of presenting character change over time, considering how programs like The SopranosAngelLost, Game of Thrones, and Dexter create compelling complex characters. Many complex serials have embraced antiheroes as lead characters, using the long-form narrative structure to layer psychological traits and key elements of backstory. This chapter uses the case study of Breaking Bad and its antihero protagonist to explore how serial dramas construct characters with different approaches to relationships, flashbacks, memory, narration, and performance.

As always, I invite feedback on this chapter or anything else posted on the Complex TV site. I also encourage anyone interested in the book who hasn’t filled out this survey about readership to do so. Thanks in advance!

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