Thursday, August 7, 2014

31 Day Battlestar Galactica Challenge, Day 7: Least Favorite Character All Around

Don't you side-eye me, Lee Adama.
My loathing of Lee Adama* is well-known by anyone who talks Battlestar Galactica with me, and I do not apologize for it. He's the most self-righteous, oblivious, childish, back-stabbing characters of the entire series. He spends most of his time trying to figure out a way to not be his dad, which, to be fair, is understandable. When you're eighteen.

For those of you wondering, no, Lee is not eighteen.

Anyway, from the second he steps foot aboard the Galactica in the miniseries, he's acting like a whiny baby, complaining that he had to land manually, and then proceeds to explain that, "Hey, Dad, I blame you for my adult brother's death because you forced him to become a pilot," without thinking that Adama actually deeply felt that way, anyway (Starbuck's involvement not known, obvs). He has moments where I'm like, "Oh, well, I guess he's not that bad," and then he goes and ruins the moment by being himself (trying to pursue a relationship with a prostitute, leading mutinies because of IDEALS, bitching about and to his dad about things he probably should just leave alone, marrying Dee in retaliation to Starbuck's marriage to Anders, etc.). There are a couple of things that I agree with him on (Baltar's treason, Zarek's demand for a presidential election, the rescue of the people of New Caprica, leaving the military, for example), but for the most part, he's just a rebellious little shit ... who, again, is not eighteen.

One story line that I really disliked was Fat Lee. First of all, fatness does not indicate someone's moral code or strength as a person. And it's not like Admiral Adama is in his physical prime, either, which just makes his accusation of Lee's weakness all the more annoying. I hate that the writers used Lee gaining weight to show that he wasn't a good leader any longer; he wasn't that great of one, at least in the military, in the first place, so it's unnecessary and really disappointing that they couldn't have expressed his "softening" (whatever that means) in a different way that wouldn't have been so trope-ish.

To be honest, a lot of what I can't stand about Lee is the fact that he has similar weaknesses to his brother, Zak: he joins the military (and stays in it) because of his father, even though his personality does not suit it, and he has this weird relationship with Kara Thrace. Most of his inner struggles are because he's the one who can't let go of what he thinks his father's aspirations for him are. Luckily (heh) unlike his brother, he's able to live long enough to discover that politics is where he feels at home, but even then, it seems like it's a reaction to his dad being all, "Wait, what? You're becoming a lawyer/politician? Who are you?" So he's like, "Oooh, my father hates this idea?! I'm totally doing it!" Which brings us to Kara. Sigh. Okay, Lee, dating** and sleeping with a woman with whom your brother was involved (engaged) is just wrong, end of civilization be damned. If my sister had been with a guy, then died, and then the zombie apocalypse came and the survivors had to repopulate the earth? I wouldn't have sex with him. I'd find some other guy and leave my dead sister's lover for another lucky lady. But maybe that's just me.

I just had a hard time caring about what happened to Lee. He was in plenty of situations where he could have died, and I almost had the feeling of, "Well, there's always next time," after every one was resolved. I don't think the writers necessarily meant to create the character that way - like I said, he had brief bits where he proved to be very smart, capable, and self-sacrificing - but a lot of fans disliked him, despite him being one of the more obvious Good Guys throughout the series. Helo had a lot in common with him in that way; he would face down every situation with his moral compass never wavering, even if it meant he had to go against the grain. But I loved Helo; his convictions didn't seem contrived or random. He was just Helo. But when the writers wanted a foil to the Admiral? They grabbed Lee and made him arbitrarily the dissenting voice: the black market, the mutiny at the end of Season One, etc. CONFLICT! they said. LOOK, IT'S SON VS. FATHER! they announced. Please, give me some nuance here. It's not like the rest of the Galactica always agreed with Adama, and plenty would voice their concerns because he presented himself as having a willing ear (most of the time). That just seems lazy and becomes predictable, since they always reconcile at the end ("You're my son.").

And I don't have to like a character's actions to like the character. Baltar is probably one of my favorites, and he's a dick. Ellen thinks of no one else but herself (and sometimes her husband), but she's fun to watch. Cavil has a nihilistic view of everything, and yet, he ranks pretty highly in my Cylon list. Lee is unlikable and tedious, like he learns nothing from anything and just bounces from one tragedy to the next, thinking "Why me, gods?" He is one of the most self-unaware people on any TV show I've ever watched, and that makes it a lot easier for me to not care about his development, or lack thereof. I can only hope that I don't fall into this trap in trying to make my characters more layered, but hey, at least I have Lee as an example of what not to do. Thanks, BSG writers!

* And I enjoy Jamie Bamber, you guys. He's an excellent actor, and I love him in everything else I've seen him in (Law & Order UK was the shit). It saddens me, like in the case of Marc Blucas (aka Captain Cardboard, aka Riley Finn from Buffy the Vampire Slayer), because the character was just that damn unlikable.
** Well, they didn't really date, per se, but carrying on an affair is basically the same thing, but with negative moral indications.

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