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Friday, June 26, 2020

June 26, 2020: BoschStudying: Maddie

[Like most of us, my lockdown has offered the opportunity to check some TV shows off of my list. One of the best I’ve seen is Amazon Prime’s original show Bosch, based on the longstanding series of police procedural detective novels by Michael Connelly (who is part of the show as well). The best part of Bosch is its characters, so this week I’ll AmericanStudy the five most important!]
On what a multi-generational dynamic adds to our protagonist, and why it’s more important than that.
First things first: I don’t want to suggest that the character of Harry Bosch is in any way singular in having a central and crucial relationship with his kid. Indeed, if we look at the list of anti-hero characters I highlighted in Monday’s post on Harry, a fair number of them have kids; and while in some cases those kids remain a bit too young and peripheral to be main characters on the show (like with Jimmy McNulty and Vic Mackey, perhaps not coincidentally the two other police officers on that list), in many others they grow into important characters in their own right across their show’s arc (certainly the case with Tony Soprano’s, Don Draper’s, and Walter White’s kids, for example). Parent-child relationships and dynamics are after all both a universal human experience (not to say everyone has kids of their own, but we’re all someone’s child) and an excellent storytelling device, and these TV kids, played by some exceptional young actors (I’d highlight Kiernan Shipka’s Sally Draper as a particular standout, but there’s plenty of talent to go around), have helped create some of the great TV storylines of the Golden Age. [On that note I have to make a special mention of Holly Taylor’s Paige Jennings on The Americans, maybe the best TV kid character and performance of all time.]
But with all of that said, I would still argue that Madison Lintz’s Maddie Bosch represents an especially interesting and influential kid character for a couple of reasons. For one thing, she opens up sides to Harry’s character in ways that are quite different from the usual “badass anti-hero with a soft spot for his daughter” trope (see Jack and Kim Bauer in particular, but certainly also Tony and Meadow Soprano among others). As I argued in Monday’s post, Harry’s greatest strengths and his most telling flaws all stem in one way or another from the darkness that drives him, and the show consistently portrays that darkness and drive through solitary and quiet scenes, generally set in Harry’s striking and strikingly isolated home with its bird’s-eye view of LA. But across the show’s seasons that home has become more and more fully Maddie’s as well, and has thus featured the majority of the intense, awkward, realistic, intimate interactions and conversations between father and daughter that define this evolving dynamic and relationship. In some core ways Harry at the end of season six seems quite similar to the Harry we met at the start of season one (and that’s more than okay), but because of and through Maddie he’s in other ways quite different, and that slow and very moving growth has been a beautiful thing to watch.
If this week’s series has had a central through-line, however (besides “I love Bosch!,” which also, yes), it’s been that thanks to its core group of great characters and very talented actors, Bosch is about a lot more than just its titular protagonist. It’s perhaps most important not to analyze or define—and thus not to limit—the character of Maddie solely through her relationship with her dad, for all sorts of reasons but especially because she’s a young woman working to come into her own despite (or really through) some significant challenges and tragedies. Not surprisingly, as the daughter of a cop father and a former FBI profiler mother, she has done so in large part through considering her own possible paths within the world of law and justice—potential paths that so far have included both police officer and lawyer (on either the defense or prosecution sides of the coin). While I’m hopeful that the 7th and final season will give us a glimpse into where Maddie Bosch ends up, just those questions alone reflect the show’s ability to create a truly multi-generational narrative, one where this compelling kid character has become to grow up into and contribute to a world that she shares with, but that importantly exists beyond, her flawed, interesting, deeply human father.  
June Recap this weekend,
PS. What do you think? Takes on this show or others you’d call especially lockdown-binge-worthy?

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