TV shows and movies where everyone has "understandable motives"

The Wire. Breaking Bad. Better Call Saul. Sopranos for the most part. The Night Of. The Staircase.

I Love love LOVE shows where there’s no clear cut “good guy” and “bad guy” and I’m trying to find more shows to sink my teeth into once I get caught up on Better Call Saul. For example, I love that Chuck in BCS is a total dick and mean to his own flesh and blood brother, but, frankly, has some good and understandable reasons to hold grudges against him. Jimmy is supposed to be the protagonist and who we most empathize with, but he still has obvious flaws and is still “morally flexible” as they describe it in the show.

The Wire is an even better example. Save for maybe Marlo and the lawyer guy, everyone is just trying to get by. Just like real life, no one is intentionally seeking to do much bad but are just stumbling through life and trying to do what they think is the right thing to do no matter how far reaching and bad the consequences are.

Does anyone else have examples of shows and even movies where everyone is equally shitty, imperfect, and incredibly human? What draws you to the show? I’d love to find something new :slight_smile:

“The Americans” certainly qualifies. You got the Russian spies, motivated by patriotism and/or ideology. You got the FBI trying to stop them, also an understandable motive. And you got a bunch of other folks, all doing their respective things and interacting with the KGB/FBI, knowingly or unknowingly, as a part of their scene.

Orphan Black (BBCA), Bosch (Amazon), Deadwood (HBO). Bosch stars Titus Welliver, who was Silas Adams on Deadwood, alongside Jamie Hector, Marlo from The Wire.

Sneaky Pete on Amazon. Also has Bryan Cranston.

House of Cards.

In the movie A Separation, most of the characters are driven into less-than-admirable behavior by the difficulty of their circumstances. The movie won an Oscar and a Golden Globe for best foreign language film in 2012. It’s one of my favorite movies of the last ten years.

You would probably like the ABC series American Crime. There have been three seasons, but each one is a separate story with different characters (although they use many of the same actors in each season). The first two seasons involve flawed people dealing with the aftermath of a crime: in the first season it’s a murder, and in the second season it’s a sexual assault. One thing that makes it interesting is that they never reveal what actually took place during the crimes—the series is about the effect of the crime on the people around it, not so much the crime itself. Unfortunately, in my opinion the third season wasn’t as interesting as the first two: it was less focused, some of the main characters were too one-dimensional, and it was a bit preachy. I should warn you that in none of the seasons is everything resolved at the end.