Sociopaths as Antiheroes of Streaming Media
Unlike their traditional counterparts, contemporary TV antiheroes are becoming increasingly non-empathetic. Despite their dislikable qualities, they succeed in attracting audiences. I consider two factors that may be influencing their popularity. The first involves viewers’ increasing familiarity with storytelling techniques and their resulting gravitation towards narratives capable of challenging their story schemas. The second aspect concerns the entertainment industry’s transformations. Aware of their well-watched audiences’ expectations, studios are turning to novelists to pursue more defamiliarizing forms. I discuss The Assassination of Gianni Versace 2018 as an example of a series that experiments with viewers’ affective responses towards its sociopathic protagonist. I argue that the writer’s choices extricate Versace from the formulaic justice-is-served narrative, thus appealing to those consumers additionally motivated by, what researchers call, eudaemonic concerns.