By Jimmy Archer
AMC has provided many shows on television that have swayed the attention of the public such as “Breaking Bad” and “The Walking Dead”, and they may be at it again with “Hell on Wheels.”
This show takes place post Civil War on the construction of railroads throughout the United States. A former Confederate soldier, Cullen Bohannon, lost his wife in the war, and tries to start a new life by working for the railroad. Along the way he meets Elam Ferguson, a former slave, who he befriends. Sadly, the character of Ferguson was killed recently in the series, with his former friend Bohannonn killing him. The killing was warranted, with Fergusson having gone on an insane tirade after a bear attacked him and brought him close to death, and his insanity brought him to an attempt to kill Bohanan.
“Hell on Wheels” made its television debut in 2011 and is still making its run. The lead role of Cullen Bohannon is acted by Anson Mount. The show is currently on Season 4 and offers a darker twist on classic Western movies such as those starring John Wayne.
AMC has been notorious for not making “Hollywood” shows; programs where the heroes win, the villains lose, and good prosper. This show portrays events that could occur in real life (at least at that time), but depicts characters that are complicated in ways that those of “Hollywood” films usually are not. Cullen Bohannon is an anti-hero, an imperfect human being who takes odd approaches to helping society. He has had to kill more than one friend, and has seen death on many occasions. In today’s society, the anti-hero has really caught on, with audiences backing the hero with more qualities like Batman than Superman.
The show is attention-grabbing, with constant troubles plaguing the loveable lead character, causing the viewer to hope some good will finally come to Bohannon. He has had a child with a woman who was not meant to become his wife, but since he discovered her in the later stages of pregnancy, he decided to take on the responsibility of husband to raise his child and support his family. Having lost his higher paying job on the railroad, he suffers financially and struggles to support a family. The relationship with his wife is not the best – they have little in common and their marriage only happened to support the child.
His situation takes on relevance to society today, with all of the unexpected pregnancies and financial crises that occur and turn lives upside down. Perhaps the anti-hero is catching because his problems are timeless. He can resolve his issues in ways an audience could only dare to dream.