In the last fifteen years, TV has gone from good to great to
irresistible. It’s in this era that Francis Underwood (House of Cards), Don
Draper (Mad Men), Walter White (Breaking Bad), Nicholas Brody (Homeland)
and Saul Goodman (Better Call Saul) have become household names.
In other words, the Golden Age of TV is
defined more than anything else by the anti-hero. Commonalities include being
pushed by extremely tight circumstances (whether debt or brainwashing or crime
lords in the case of Ozark) into moral compromise.
Look beyond the men (and women)
taking home the hardware on Emmy night and the other obvious names and there are plenty of unsung
characters on TV worth celebrating.
8. Richard Hendricks (Thomas Middleditch), Silicon Valley
If the general evolution of the anti-hero is from innocent to evil, Richard’s progression is more from naïve to adept.Silicon Valley is another classic of Mike Judge whose previous works (Idiocracy, Extract, Office Space) have been harsh on capitalism gone unchecked.
The show portrays a largely unchecked wild west where companies with the money and legal recourse will swallow their competitors whole. The Goliath of this world is CEO Galvin Benson (Matt Ross) who can afford to hire people to do nothing just so his competitors can’t use them. Enter the David who has to slay him to survive: A shy kid with a game-changing idea and no knowledge of the way the game is played.
Richard soon learns he has to develop a harder edge before people his subordinates take him seriously and his opponents learn not to pick a fight with him. The evolution to the new Richard is not pretty but Judge’s message is that in an unfair capitalistic system, someone like Richard has no other choice.