who is the real villain?

I finished the first three seasons of Cobra Kai and can I just say I haven’t hated a villain this much since Queen Cersei in Game of Thrones. The baddie Mr Kreese is just as awful as he was in the original movie. The writers of Cobra Kai are giving us his back story now; he wasn’t the same after his beloved girlfriend died and his tour of duty in Vietnam but does that excuse his gas lighting, cruelty and sociopathy? I think not. I am fairly confident we will get a Hollywood ending to the whole series, a happily ever after to let us know that good always prevails over evil but I have lived enough life and watched enough French cinema to know that sometimes the bad guys win.

Over the last few years storytellers have realised that audiences want to hear the villain’s side of the story. Even in real life, every shared trauma has a perpetrator but often, no matter how heavy the transgression, that person sees themselves as a victim too. No one sees themselves as the villain of the piece and as the character of Alli Mills says in Cobra Kai there are three versions of every story; yours, theirs, and the truth.

HUman beings are curators. Each polishes his or her own favoured memories, arranging them in order to create a narrative that pleases. some events are repaired and buffed for display; others are deemed unworthy and cast aside, shelved below ground in the overflowing store-room of the mind. There with any luck, they are promptly forgotten. The process is not dishonest; it is the only way that people can live with themselves and the weight of their experiences.

Kate Morton, The Clockmaker’s Daughter

Guilt and regret can colour how we see the past. It’s easier to view oneself as the victim than to admit any wrongdoing. I’ll admit I often behaved like an ass after my first husband died, but in my defence I was 22, and not a particularly emotionally intelligent 22 year old. I’ve done the therapy and the tapping, the hypnotherapy and the journaling, the meditation and the retreats. I’ve had about as much closure as I’m ever going to get but I’d still love to do an ‘Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind’ if I could keep the lessons somehow.

I could run up quite a bill at the Eternal Sunshine clinic. I had a bit of a run-in with a family member this week over the whole selective memory thing. I said something that was a bit brutal and unnecessary, I’ll admit it. I was actually shocked at the immaturity of my own feelings on the inciting incident. I mean it’s a big one, a major trauma, but still, I like to think I’m so zen and above it all with my meditation and my journalling. Gah! How mortifying to realise that despite all the work and the therapy I’m still a soggy mush of trigger points just like everyone else on earth. How boring I am.

One thing that was different about this interaction compared with previous ones was I immediately saw that I had to deal with it differently. I have two options with this situation and one of them involves blowing everything up and making the person feel like shit or I can take the path of love. I’m not going to get anywhere for myself or them by agitating. It’s not a situation that is ever going to be resolved; there is always going to be three sides to this story, theirs, mine, and the truth.

I am not sure if I’ve mentioned this but I have re-joined the local Writers’ association. It went through a bit of a dark period, taking a detour into something that didn’t work for me, so I bowed out. I wanted a writers’ association that was about writing and some of the committee members seemed to be more publishing focussed. It’s a consideration for most writers of course, but at the end of the day a writers’ association should be first and foremost about writing! Call me old-fashioned…

Yesterday, my soul-sis and fellow #StrongFemaleProtagonist presented an excellent workshop on using personality tools to help develop complex and believable characters. She showed us how to use the VARK guide to learning styles and the Five Love Languages to give our characters real flaws and drives.

The trick is to answer the quiz questions the way our characters would.

When I first started writing, my characters were largely based on my personality as it is (Rachel from Hotel Deja Vu), or as I’d wish it to be (Alia!), or on friends and acquaintances. But the two main characters in Mimi Gets away with Murder, sisters Mimi and Nicole, are polar opposites. Mimi’s love language is a combination of Words of Affirmation and Receiving Gifts while her sister’s is Quality Time. Nicole’s traumatic early teens have left her unable to stand being touched and hates to be told she is beautiful, while Mimi simply can’t live without it. Mimi is a Kinaesthetic learner while Nicole is Read/Write, perfect for the woman who has a secret contraband library under her stairs.

Mimi must be nasty and damaged on the inside and shiny and perfect on the outside. She’s a true villain. I’m thinking of working out which Enneagram the sisters are although I have a sneaking suspicion Nicole is a 4 like me. Oooh, and Myers-Briggs. Mimi would be ESFP for sure. This is fun!


  1. equinoxio21

    haha. Seen enough French cinema? I can’t watch it anymore. No beginning no story no end. Though I might go back to la Nouvelle vague or Michel Audiard for the dialogues. Just can’t get them here.
    Haven’t see cobra kai, and I don’t think I will. (Not after your review) 😉
    Fiction today is just a reflection of the world we are living in. Ready to burst at the seams.
    We need a new story.
    Stay safe.

    1. Christine Betts

      We absolutely need a new story. Something that brings real hope, not the prepackaged Hollywood variety.
      My favourite French film is Un Coeur en Hiver. The ending is about as miserable as one could hope for. 😢😂

      1. equinoxio21

        Un coeur en hiver? Will look it up. I don’t recall. I am a bit stuck in the “classic” age of French cinema. The 50’s, la Nouvelle Vague, Truffaud, Godard (even if he is Swiss), 70’s, Claude Sautet. But then I’m getting old… 😉

      2. equinoxio21

        ’92. Just re-checked. Daniel Auteuil os from 1950, a bit older that I am. he was 42. Apparently it was Sautet’s one before last film. There’s also Dussolier in the movie… Hmm. I am tempted.

      3. equinoxio21

        I will consider it, based on your advice. Thing is right now, the world is so upside down the level of fiction I can take is just about Enid Blyton. 😉

      4. Christine Betts

        Yes I feel that. But that exact feeling has made me watch some dubious stuff over the past year, like Cobra Kai. Like a series called Happy Endings which was an early 2000s ‘version’ of Friends. And then there was the dreadful film I saw on the weekend called Then Came You. It was a romcom set in Scotland and aside from the lovely scenery and the old house and village was an assault on my senses and sensibilities. It was a mess and made very little sense but it was pretty 🤷‍♀️😆 I did a little research afterwards and found it was a bit of a vanity project by an American talk show host who wrote, produced and starred in it. – the dark side of ‘self publishing’ 😖🤯

      5. equinoxio21

        Vanity. Hmmm. The Greeks called it “hubris” and it was considered a crime. Spreading everywhere now. I will stick to Enid Blyton. 😉 For a while. Or Robert B. Parker. I like his sense of humour. SAdly I have just finished re-reading all Sue Grafton. 🥺

      6. Christine Betts

        I don’t know Parker or Grafton. Will check them out. I could send you download links to my novels if you’re amenable? Do you use an ereader? They’re quite girly but set in France. They’re a bit fun with happy endings.

      7. equinoxio21

        Parker and Grafton had a great sense of humour, if you like detective stories, mystery novels.
        I’d be delighted for the link. I mostly stick to paper books, but I do have an Ipad to read… French news. Do send.

      8. equinoxio21

        Well, well. Sautet, indeed. ’92. We’d left France already, though Auteuil and a young Béart are a good cast. Miserable ending? hmmm. Not sure I want to watch miserable endings. All I need to do is to turn the news on. 🤣
        But I’ll consider it. thanks for the tip. 🙏🏻

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