I think the best art is naked and raw. It can take any form, but it’s real and gets to a core of humanity.
I love Shameless, for example, but the beauty of the show is not in the current iteration which focuses around comedy and soap opera style drama.
It’s in suddenly seeing that Frank isn’t a lovable scamp, as they often portray him now, but a true scumbag and an awful father. Suddenly beating on a kid or screwing his children over to get a fix in such a way as to make us squirm uncomfortably in our seats – that’s the real shit. It’s not hilarious hobo hijinks; it’s the actual cost of a fucking sociopath.
Shameless was made on moments like that – not the absurdist sitcom type goofiness. It’s good because it’s raw and it’s real. I can do plain comedy or action movies with the best of them, but the truly great moments are when stories subvert the expectations.
You assumed Robb in Game Of Thrones had a specific path; you assumed poorly.
You assumed Frank Gallagher would, despite years of letting people down, demonstrate a secret heart of gold. Instead, he made things even worse with his rationalized selfishness.
People disappoint in real life. Some people just can’t be trusted. Some people make incredibly misguided mistakes you wouldn’t have thought they would.
People have secrets. They hide who they are.
Exposing that to the light of day is what gives characters their depth and their memorability; virtue isn’t a lost art, but too often, it’s assumed that’s where we all live, deep down, except in stereotypical evil archetypes.
Sometimes, the villains are the people you think you should love.
And that renders us vulnerable, as readers, and as people.