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The Excision of the TV Protagonist

By Søren Hough


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Television has apexed once again. If the Emmys have proven anything over the past few years, it is that we live in what celebrated filmmaker Steven Soderbergh refers to as “a second golden age of television.” The networks — cable and streaming, more than broadcast — are investing more than ever in smart, original and ambitious shows, and are consequently producing more high-quality material than ever before. So successful have these networks become that major figures in the film industry have begun to make the once-unthinkable jump from the big screen to the small screen. Indeed, everyone from Steven Spielberg to Kevin Spacey seems to be hopping on the bandwagon.

But at what cost? Has this shift in production value brought with it narrative strength? Maybe not.

Along with this resurgence in television has come a recurring and potentially sinister theme: the abrupt excision of the protagonist. Consider the Emmy-winning fantasy series,
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