NEW YORK—According to a number of prominent television critics nationwide, the HBO series Boardwalk Empire stretches belief to the breaking point by featuring an incredibly implausible main character who is a complex human being with a layered, ambiguous, and nuanced personality. “I honestly want to like Nucky, the main character, but it’s frankly really hard to swallow this super unrealistic fantasy universe where human beings act with purpose, have complicated thoughts and opinions, are motivated by coherent desires, and are more than just superficial, mindless stereotypes,” wrote Washington Post TV critic Hank Stuever in a recent column, adding that while individuals in the real world drift thoughtlessly through their entire unexamined lives, the show’s incredibly far-fetched protagonist seemed to have a deep inner life, an actual original point of view, and a sense of moral conflict. “The whole premise that there are people out there with a full, expressive range of emotions, and a worldview that is willing to see things in more shades than simply black and white, is just completely preposterous. I mean, do the writers seriously expect us to buy this nonsense?” Stuever conceded, however, that he found the show’s depiction of a bleak, inhospitable universe “just about right on the money.”
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