I think one of the elements required for creating a great drama is to craft a protagonist who perseveres despite the odds. It requires a character who is a fighter. They can face setbacks, sure, and they can have their moments to grieve or reflect, but I believe moviegoers are more likely to root for a fighter instead of a character who gets stuck or falls into despair.
They want to follow the journey of someone who comes out on top so the viewing experience was well worth the journey. And that’s what director Steve McQueen managed to pull off with 12 Years a Slave.