Nice guys finish last - it's best to be bad

Entertainment | Published:

At uni, with a gun to my head, I had to read Paradise Lost.

I looked forward to the module on John Milton's epic poem - documenting the Fall of Man and stretching over 10,000 lines of verse - in the same way you look forward to a root canal, driving test or dinner for two with Roy Chubby Brown.

"Is it available on audio book?" was the reply. "Cut down to 25 minutes and narrated by Christopher Biggins?"

But, would you Adam and Eve it, that highly-trained, highly-intelligent, well-read educational professional was right: Paradise Lost did indeed change my life.

It made me realise that the good stuff is always dark.

Never mind all that goody-two-shoes heaven nonsense, or the beauty of Eden, the fun stuff, the exciting stuff, is always murky.

So farewell hope, and with hope farewell fear, Farewell remorse; all good to me is lost; Evil be thou my good.

Delicious isn't it? Like dunking your head in a bucket of golden syrup.


Such a scent I draw of carnage, prey innumerable, and taste the savour of death from all things there that live.

Anyways, the point of all this - other than to prove that I once read a book that wasn't part of the Fifty Shades trilogy - is to cement the theory that the best people on TV are always the baddies, they're always the ones scheming, plotting and messing with the dark arts.

Tony Soprano, Mr Burns, Dirty Den, Alice Morgan, Nasty Nick, Spencer Matthews, The Master, Tracy Barlow,Stewie Griffin, Simon Cowell, Mumm-Ra, Lorne Malvo, Francis Underwood, Den Perry: these are the villains we love to hate.

A good baddy completely eclipses the hero: they are more intriguing, more charismatic, more exciting. You can keep your Lisa Simpsons, Rachel Greens and Ants and Decs, the rogues always have it.


And this is clearly something the producers of TV Land have cottoned on to. While the 1980s and 90s were dominated by boring-as-fudge Mr Nice Guys, the noughties and beyond have been about the antihero.

The stars of the show these days are flawed. Yes, we're all still rooting for them but it's no longer so cut and dried. Look at the biggest shows of the past decade or so, it's all about the bad goody: Detective John Luther, Walter White, Jimmy McNulty, David Brent.

ITV's recent - and quite literal - runaway success, Prey, executed this perfectly. Detective Marcus Farrow was a good guy pushed to the limits - he broke into pensioners' homes and punched his female co-worker in the face - but the whole country was behind him, shouting at the screen as genuinely evil Andrea toyed with his life. This shadowy edge gave him greater depth, greater unpredictably and the piece was stronger for it.

Hopefully this is just the start of even more leading men and women who give themselves to the dark side every now and then.

Imagine Miranda. Such fun!

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