Have you ever hated, I mean seriously hated a fictional character? I have. Recently I’ve been watching past seasons of The Walking Dead and I realized that I really detest the Andrea character. I find her arrogant, completely lacking in insight or intuition, and gullible. She refuses to participate in anything resembling “women’s work” (which I completely understand) but overestimates her skills in other areas. She wants to be a protector but when we first meet Andrea, she greatly overestimates her shooting skills. She routinely resists any authority figure whose priorities are not her own. Hmm, she sounds like me.
When that thought struck me I realized that it really isn’t Andrea I hate, it’s those trait I see in her that I share. It might be comical if it wasn’t so true. Like Andrea, I often think I can do things on my own without assistance. I hate being limited in any way (whether it’s being expected to do “women’s work” or being treated as though I’m incapable of understanding a concept). I also see myself as a protector although to be fair I have minimal self-defense skills. I have a lot of moxie but very little actual training to back it up. The one area we are a bit different is that I am not as gullible or lacking in insight or intuition as the character is but that’s only because I’ve spent a lot of time working on it. And yes, I’m arrogant. Fairly self-righteous on occasion too.
Another character I’ve realized irritates me for some reason (although not to the same degree) is Buffy Summers of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I couldn’t put my finger on why, I simply found her rather ditzy and annoying. But the more I watched the show the more I realized I resented and was jealous of Buffy. I would have given anything to have special powers like her (then again what teen wouldn’t?). Her blonde cheerleader persona, that was basically destroyed when she learned she is the Slayer, was one that I envied a bit on some deep unconscious level. Once again, who hasn’t wanted to be in the popular clique at some point in their lives. Of course even as a teen I wouldn’t have lasted in that clique because, also like Buffy, there were things in my life that made me an oddball, an outcast. Now I embrace those things but at the time they seems embarrassing and painful.
It’s become a fun hobby for me to take note of which characters I like and identify with (Dean & Sam Winchester on Supernatural) versus which ones annoy me. I see them as keys to character traits I want to possess or ones I possess that I don’t really like. It gives me an opportunity for insight and challenges me to make an effort to change those traits I don’t like and cultivate the ones I do. Needless to say, this works beautifully with fictional novels too. Try it sometime, you might be surprised at yourself. And you thought TV was just mindless junk food!