A timely read as I’ve recently been sucked into the Netflix series Ginny and Georgia and have been pondering Georgia’s multi-faceted character--a woman who clawed her way from a childhood of poverty, abuse, and neglect through questionable mean that she justifies at every turn. I’m going to have to rewatch some of these films--especially The Sound of Music--with an eye on the villains.

(Also, Mother Superior was nominated for an Oscar?! Awful!)

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Great post! I too love to think about the moral gray areas between the villains and the heroes in stories. In general, my favorite type of villain is the one who thinks they're the hero. Or whose actions are always justified in their own mind. In pro wrestling they're called "delusional heels."

I know you said you don't like comic books, but the best example in that genre is Magneto -- his family was killed in the Holocaust, so he despises humanity. That's reasonable, but in his rage he desires to eradicate humanity, becoming the very thing he purports to hate.

Hannibal is also criminally underrated. IMHO it's a top five show ever.

Good luck selling your screenplay!

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Great thought-provoking article about people we love to hate. A couple of things I’d like to add. You missed mention of the two great villains in Handmaids Tale: Serena Joy and Aunt Lydia, both of whom may indeed have compelling backstories. But I’m not so sure a completing back story is enough to redeem either of them.

And if you ever get to LA in the fall, please time your visit to catch the showing of the singalong SOM at the Hollywood Bowl. It’s great fun, not only for the chance of an original cast member to appear live, the audience happily singing, the costume contest (many men dressed as nuns), but also for the entire audience hissing loudly every time the Baroness comes onscreen. Well worth the hassle of visiting LA.

I look forward to seeing your version on screen. But I will still hiss.

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