The corrupt cop. The principled drug pusher. The avenging serial killer. The vengeful peacekeeper. The romantic vampire. The heartless doctor. Television has been rotten with ironic or immoral protagonists for most of the new century, though the drama they’ve produced has often been golden.
But a marketplace correction appears to be underway. Grinchy detective Sherlock grew a heart in his latest series of films. Arrow gave up the killer vigilante for role-model vigilante. The new Doctor Who regenerated into an older and wiser Time Lord and declared, “I’ve made a lot of mistakes. It’s time I did something about it”—a line that also pretty much summarizes Don Draper’s arc during the first half of Mad Men’s final season, too. Sleepy Hollow—in which the dynamic duo of Ichabod Crane and Abbie Mills sacrifice self-interest to save the world from America’s historical and supernatural demons—made chivalry and redemption sexy again. After the glut of rakes and wretches, narcissists and nihilists, there is ruefulness and rehumanization. An era of anti-heroes has surrendered—for the moment, at least—to atonement. READ FULL STORY