4 November 2013 8:40 AM, PST | The Guardian - TV News | See recent The Guardian - TV News news »

Shows such as Justified are praised for their villains and anti-heroes, but characters who choose to do right are even more fascinating

Folksy but malevolent Mags Bennett, pinch-faced creep Wynn Duffy, terrifying sociopath Robert Quarles and, of course, the charming, slippery, dangerous Boyd Crowder. The quality of villains in Justified, where the baddies are as central as the heroes, presents viewers with a sumptuous rogues gallery. The show, about Us Marshal Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant), is one of the best dramas I've ever watched.

While the baddies are colourful and complex, Givens is the truly compelling character because he's gone to the good from a bad background. His father Arlo was a drunken, violent criminal. Raylan was shovelling coal in his teens, palling with Boyd, eking out an existence in poverty-stricken Kentucky. The boy seemed set for a life of ill-deeds. Then Aunt Helen gave him money and an ultimatum: escape to a better life. »

- Darragh McManus

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