June 24, 2021

The art of killing the protagonist of a series | TV

The art of killing the protagonist of a series | TV

The revolution of the series began in Oz, and its premiere was accompanied by a hit of unprecedented effect: it began murdering its protagonist. Screenwriter Tom Fontana, the first with absolute freedom on television, spent 55 minutes presenting an Italian gang member who had taken over the prison (Jon Seda) only to kill him before the final credits of the first episode. The presidential series, released on July 12, 1997 as the first drama of the cable channel HBO, not only made the scythe a recurring character, but also took the first step so that getting rid of the protagonist ceased to be taboo on television. Twenty years have passed, has the departure of the main characters ceased to amaze? [Wetalkaboutdeathssotherewillbe[Hablamosdemuertesasíquehabráspoilers]

Last week two of the most important series of the last decade took the step, although with different reasons and consequences. House of Cards fired President Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey) out of the blue, after several denunciations of abuse will throw the industry actor. Netflix took advantage of his goodbye as a pure promotion. The actress Robin Wright he said on his grave in an ad: "When they bury me, it will not be in the backyard."

The AMC network has also used the farewell of Rick Grimes as an attraction for the public to return to The Walking Dead, that this year has marked minimum of hearing, although the reasons are incomparable: after eight years, Andrew Lincoln wanted another rhythm of life in England, but without reneging on paper. His character had led the viewer to the zombie apocalypse, he was headlining. Your output will transform the series. So relevant was that at the last minute they did not dare to continue with the original plan: to kill him.

The episode was also the last of another main actress, Lauren Cohan (Maggie), but she did not have a farewell. No longer appear this season because, after not granting a joint salary, decided to sign for another series. "The writers will have to transfer the ties and the emotional value of these characters to others, if they do not replace them, the series will die, it is very difficult to do so with such advanced fiction", writes screenwriter Iván Escobar, expert in getting rid of protagonists in series like Paco's men Y Vis a vis, who feels, however, that this time they cheat. In a series used to murder, with Rick they did not dare. The character will be relocated in three movies. He dies for his companions, but not for the spectator.

"Too many people die in the series, and in periods of 50 minutes," believes the creator Javier Olivares, who, due to contractual problems, had to get rid of the character of Belén Rueda in The Serrano ("I wanted new challenges, it's a pity that it was a dream later") Y by Rodolfo Sancho in The Ministry of Time: "Sometimes it's an easy resource, as in certain (not all) video games, in a kind of series it's no longer a taboo, in the big ones, no, they're a mirror of life, there's death, farewell, feeling. of loss is something very serious, it will always be. "

"Cases like The Walking Dead convert the shock of a death, the biggest turn that can be, in a cheap deception. Sometimes it is necessary to amputate a limb to give fresh air, but not with traps, "Escobar argues, and the simulated death of Rick has neither a moral nor a conclusive conclusion. Jon Snow's Game of Thrones, resurrected one year later"It was a betrayal of the spectator, a milestone and then a big disappointment, it's one thing to put him in a coma and another to back down on a decision like that," says the scriptwriter. what in Vis a vis had to lock Macarena (Maggie Civantos) in a washing machine for the commitment of the actress with The cable girls. "We wanted to keep the character, but she could not reconcile, so we negotiated with Netflix to appear in some episodes." Something similar to how he dealt with the departure of Hugo Silva from Paco's men and Mario Casas in Boat, complicated by the limited space.

In Vis a vis, yes, they killed the manipulative Anabel: "No one wanted to break the relationship, but we thought that killing a secondary was too easy, there were no challenges". They wanted to play with expectations. It promises more deaths for the new season, which opens on December 3, although it recognizes that if Civantos and Najwa Nimri would be before another series. "You can not break the dynamics completely, the series is a superfragile ecosystem and we can denature it, the characters are the series, we have to justify it because it is a social part of the viewer's life, it's a window to our room and we can not make it unrecognizable " For Escobar, Homeland He made this mistake: "When Brody died, it became another series, sometimes interesting, but another series with its own approach. "He also broke it Downton Abbey Y House of Cards. "The gum is lengthened to maintain the same brand," says Olivares: "The opposite case is Doctor Who, which turned the protagonist's change into his brilliant philosophy ".

But yes Oz took the first step, Game of Thrones, with a more mature HBO, was the one that popularized death. After beheading Ned Stark, the soul of the series after investing 10 episodes in its development, two years later a bloody wedding put the finishing touch. Death became his brand. "It was like a Greek tragedy, nothing opportunistic, but it's true that it creates a repetition echo and sometimes it's just a trick," Olivares explains. According to a study by Vox, in the 2015 season, after these surprises, American television killed 242 characters. "He understood that the series was no longer a fixed photo, that life is a liquid reality that changes, it is an experience, that everything changes, however, it is not a value in itself," says Escobar.

In reality, death can be insignificant and arrive at the least round moment, as in each chapter of Two meters underground. But fiction must know how to load it with meaning. Today more than ever. Did Boardwalk Empire, The Wire, BoJack Horseman Y 24. Before, when television tried to be a warm company, they were all by contract (as it was Josh Charles's The Good Wife, one of the most surprising and crying, but also meditated). Now there are also logical decisions, even if this sometimes eliminates the surprise factor. Making a death matter always takes time. Escobar remembers how well he managed Lost to kill Charlie, character with whom the public was identified and whose goodbye was vital in the evolution of the series. He had clear consequences and his mourning was noticed. The meaning was palpable.

"It is sad to vulgarize death," says Olivares, who recognizes how well he has dealt with death The curse of House Hill: "What gives real fear are not the ghosts: it is the pain of life itself." If there is nothing at stake, or evolution, it would not matter. And sometimes the death not expected is less exciting, as in the case of Norma Bates, the mother of the psychopath, in Bates Motel, for all that this entailed. You could not start the series from scratch. "Death is reviving, disappearing, remembering …", says Olivares. If not, death ends up losing narrative power, that collective event for which hundreds were recorded jumping on the sofa with the Red Wedding. Nothing so exciting as when Supertele he announced on the cover: "Chanquete dies this week."

Death against diversity

The art of killing the protagonist of a series

Sometimes death is so powerful that viewers take it personally. "Still some 'thank me' that in Paco's men we had one of the first lesbian couples on Spanish television with Pepa and Silvia and I separated them with death. We received many letters of protest"recalls Escobar, who, unconsciously, made a dent in a recurrent problem in diversity studies. The 100, for example, they made numerous campaigns on the Internet when they killed Lexa, just one of the many lesbians to fall on television. There is even a web that yields tribute to the 202 dead lesbians in the series.

Another case is that of the homosexual couple of Torchwood, derived from Doctor Who that became the hallmark of killing all the protagonists, except for two, each certain chapters. "Death may end up being easy", rejects Olivares.


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