I loved the show Southland and especially Ben McKenzie, who played one of the main characters. When I heard that he was going to star in Gotham, I was excited. I think he’s a great actor and I hope he has a long and fabulous career.
I started watching Gotham and was initially fascinated. By the third episode, however, I found my opinion changing.
I think it’s extremely easy to write characters who are all bad. The problem is, however, is that they come across as stereotypes, one-dimensional people who aren’t quite real. I know that Gotham is based on a comic book and maybe that’s where the problem lies. But I see nothing but an entire range of characters, including the one Ben McKenzie plays, descending into total darkness. There’s nothing remotely likeable or inspiring about any of them.
When I read, it’s important for me to identify with the characters. I either do that with shared life experiences or feeling some compassion or empathy for them. The third way I identify with a character is when I admire them or they inspire me.
Unfortunately, the characters in Gotham don’t help me identify with them at all. I feel, for lack of a better expression, creeped out after I’ve watched an episode, to the extent that I’ve stopped watching.
I think also the lighting of the entire show has something to do with my mood when I’m watching. It’s so black and dark and disturbing.
I realized, as I was watching, that even a bad guy has to have a shred of decency. He has to like cats or love his mother. The character that Jada Pinkett Smith plays is absolutely ghastly as far as I’m concerned. Talk about not having any shred of decency…
You don’t have to like the villain in the piece, but I’ve often found that it adds a dimension if you understand his humanity.
Of course, I didn’t follow my own advice in my early books. One of the villains in A Promise of Love, for example, has not one redeeming feature in his entire life. But people aren’t really like that. And another thing: people who are truly evil don’t often recognize their own nature. Everything makes sense to them, just as our lives – possibly normal and average – makes sense to us.
I may be the only person on the face of the earth who is disappointed in Gotham. But that’s okay, I often hold a contrarian view.
What do you think?