One simple yet effective approach that lies behind the success of some of the greatest movies and television shows to have ever existed is the making the main character an awful person whom the audience happens to adore. Internationally renowned criminal, Raymond “Red” Reddington, is the charming yet sinister face behind NBC’s intrigue-drama, The Blacklist.
As Reddington, James Spader hones and expands on his interesting and mysterious persona from his role as Robert California in The Ofﬁce. Turning up out of the blue to assist the FBI, Reddington turns himself into the FBI for intriguingly unknown reasons. Despite being in FBI custody, it becomes clear that Reddington is not a force to be overlooked and will do everything necessary — manipulate, kill, ﬂatter, scare, ﬂirt, joke — to get what he wants; namely the trust and affection of a young FBI agent, Elizabeth Keen, whom he aims to protect at all costs.
The Blacklist has seemingly learned one of the lessons of The Sopranos and Breaking Bad, that the matter of perspective decides who the audience sides with. Viewers have a blood lust and ultimately love even the most morally questionable of characters if the creators steer them in the right direction.
Despite being an opportunistic criminal, Reddington separates himself from the criminals he helps to apprehend. His afﬁliation with Elizabeth Keen and his determination to ensure her safety — primarily from her husband whom Red believes to be hiding something — gives us a feel for his compassionate side. Red is self-serving and does what is in his best interest, yet we as viewers still trust him. He offers not only a Hannibal Lecter-like allure, but emanates an heir air of righteousness to go along with it.
If the enigmatic, lukewarm — semi-bad, semi-good qualities of Raymond Reddington aren’t enough to keep you watching The Blacklist, his classy fedora just might do the trick. -Clayton Kimberley