Tuesday, April 9

Not Justified!

Timothy Olyphnat plays US Deputy Marshal, Raylan Givens, in the FX drama, Justified.

I may have mentioned a time or two that I have a ginormous crush on this man.

The TV character, not the man, actually.

He's hot--tall, cool under fire, and did I mention he looks really good in a hat? He's an alpha, leader. Doesn't back down, doesn't apologize. He's smart. He's hot. Did I mention that?

Let me back up a bit. A couple years ago, I was whining about not having anything to watch on TV, and my daughter mentioned a DVD set she had, but she didn't think I'd like it--Justified.

 I agreed to watch it, and that's all she wrote. I was hooked from the minute Raylan Givens counted down and shot Miami gun thug Tommy Bucks without blinking an eye.

I watch the first three seasons over and over. I can quote them verbatim. The writing is sharp, the acting superb.

Until this year I've been a devoted and loyal fan.

What's changed?

The writing.

It's subtle, but it's there. Raylan is meaner. Maybe the writers are trying to make him a bit world-weary, but to me, he just come across as an asshole. Two scenes really drove this home for me. When he catches bad guy Drew Thompson. Not an ounce of compassion. It really turned me off the character.

Another time is when the ex-wife of Drew Thompson is beaten to a pulp by a bad guy. Raylan is cold toward her, again compassion-less.

I love Raylan as a bad-ass. He's a man's man. But he's got what every hero I admire has, a kindness toward animals, children and ladies.

This season, the writers lost his soul.

And they're close to losing me.

What does this have to do with my own writing? It's a strong reminder to keep my eye on characterization. Alpha is good, asshole is not.


  1. It's an instant way to spot a change in writers, isn't it? Also a fine line when you're the one doing the writing! Good post.

  2. I'm a huge die-hard fan myself. Loved Timothy in Catch and Release. Hated Hit Man.
    Anyway, I thought Elmore Leonard was involved in the production of the show and oversees the scripts.
    Raylan is an angry man. Winona mentioned it in the first episode. He hides it well that's all.
    I guess I didn't get that same sense of crossing the line that you did. I do love him and Boyd together though.

  3. I've never watched Justified, but my husband loves it and kept telling me to watch it.

    I agree that manly is good, but I think you can have him be an asshole, then regret it.

  4. Alpha is good, asshole is not <-- love this and soooo true! My husband and daughter watch Justified. I've sat through a few episodes but never paid enough attention to get into it.

  5. I totally agree, D'Ann. There is a massive difference between an ALPHA MALE and an ASSHOLE! Nothing turns me off more than a hero whose alphaness is pushed into the asshole range. We as writers have to be careful. Also, confidence in a man is awesome, but too much to the point HE THINKS he's God's gift to women, makes me sick.

  6. You hit it on the head about the difference between Alpha and Asshole. I've struggled with that in some stories too. Guys need to be open to the love in their lives not just the part about being a "bad ass". I think that's why I've been turned off by the latest in the Carpathian series by Feehan. The guys aren't showing much compassion. It's always their way or the highway!

  7. I'm sorry to say, I've never seen this show. But if it bothers YOU, then it bothers me, too.

  8. I haven't seen it either, but it sounds interesting. Must go check it out...thanks for this post. It's definitely something worth mentioning. Thanks for sharing.

  9. You are so right, D'Ann! I LOVE Justified! Hooked from the first episode! But the writers have written away some of Raylan's humanity and I don't like it either. Let's hope they get it back on track or they will lose their show :(

  10. Yeah, 'tis a fine line indeed between creating a guy who every loves and the one who everybody loves to hate. I enjoy Justified well enough but have also been disappointed in the latest season. However, I would watch Tim Olyphant act in a toothpaste commercial. He's without a doubt on my Top Ten List. great post! thanks for sharing your thoughts

  11. I didn't get that at all from Raylan this season, D'Ann, and I didn't miss one episode. It just goes to show how subjective writing is.

  12. Back when "bodice-rippers" were the standard romance novel, cold men were considered hot. Not today! I agree: we like our men to show compassion and emotion. This does not make them wimpy. Passion is attractive. Violence toward women is a turn-off.

  13. I totally agree - there is a thin line between Alpha and Ass...I love it when a writer goes *righttotheline* and doesn't cross it. It doesn't take much to show compassion, humanity...great reminder!

  14. I've never watched Justified, but I totally agree with you. And I hate it when my favorite show goes through a metamorphosis and changes. That is the absolute worst.

  15. Never seen the show, but I agree with you. I can get over some asshole moments, but if it's part of hero's personality, then he's not a hero to me.

  16. Great observation!!! I don't watch Justified but I remember you mention it more than once. I totally agree. Alpha males are perfect, assholes are not.

  17. Thank you, everyone, for weighing in! I'll see what season five brings!