Everyone seems to be into Game of Thrones nowadays. It’s truly a fantastic show, to be sure, and tells the epic tale of George RR Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire books even better than the author managed at first. There’s also the niggling little problem of the show having overtaken the author’s progress with the books.
While epic fantasy has a fairly broad appeal, there are some TV shows that are simply meant for men. That’s not to say that women are not welcome to watch, but these shows feature strong and flawed male protagonists and deal unashamedly with manly things.
The Godfather may have been one of the manliest gangster movies ever, but The Sopranos went many steps further in terms of character development. The series follows the life of Tony Soprano, a New Jersey mafia boss and family man. At the start of the first season, Tony is rising in ranks to the top, but suddenly starts suffering anxiety attacks. He starts to see a psychiatrist and inexplicably becomes less of a badass with each season. The more he softens up, the more he needs to pretend to still be a brutal gangster. James Gandolfini gave a career-defining performance as Tony Soprano, for which he won numerous awards.
Breaking Bad went the opposite way. Its protagonist, Walter White, starts off as a mild-mannered high school science teacher who works a second job at a car wash in order to pay for his cancer treatment, which he hides from his family initially. He somehow gets involved with a former student’s drug business and starts making high-quality crystal meth in order to pay for his chemotherapy. He gradually becomes a greedy, brutal monster, and by the end of the fifth season, he goes out in a blaze of power-hungry glory and spectacular vengeance.