Go back to look forward
By Dennis Perkins @dennisperkins5
Oct 6, 2014
Vikings’ 2013 arrival saw it lumped in with the so-called “white male antihero” TV glut, and not without reason. As a genre, such shows are, at heart, wish-fulfillment fantasies where an American man can shuck off the emasculating trappings of modern domesticity and thrill, however covertly, to the actions of “real men.”In Tony Soprano’s first therapy session with Dr. Melfi, he invokes the “strong silent type” (personified in his mind by Gary Cooper) and The Sopranos is informed by Tony’s interpretation of what that essential manliness entails. Walter Whitecouched his escalating lawlessness in familial concern, but as he finally confided to Skyler at series’ end, he became the biggest meth lord in America simply because he liked it. As Heisenberg, Walter could forget his perceived failures as a husband, father, and provider and stride manfully among the criminal underworld. Sons Of Anarchy trucks heavily in the idea that outlaw bikers, breaking from the strictures of civilized society, are both freer and more truly men than, say, the viewer with a mortgage and a minivan. Even in a period piece like Mad Men, Don Draper sees his unfiltered-cigarette-smoking, whiskey-swilling, fanny-pinching present as missing something—and looks to the past, as seen in the repeated motif of cowboys and astronauts.