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June 16, 2004

Evil, Wicked, Mean & Nasty

It just occurred to me the three most captivating television shows, the ones I tend to never miss have as their protagonists powerful, corrupt bullies. I wonder what goes on in the heads of the writers of these shows, but whatever it is, it has my attention. Perhaps we all ought to have our heads examined.

I'm talking about Tony, Vic and Al, the stars of The Sopranos, The Shield and Deadwood. Each of them has their own special combination of darkness, ruthlessness and vulnerability. In that they are variations on the same theme - if you want omlette, you've got to break some eggs.

What I think is attractive about these characters is that they reveal our suspicions about powerful men, that they are basically rascals and that given the opportunity, would not hesitate to murder. My mother used to say, "If you'll lie, you'll cheat and if you cheat you'll steal and if you steal you'll kill". These men are already at the bottom of the slipperly slope and yet for all their moral tupitude, they remain admirable. Are we really so twisted?

What makes these bad men not bad is that they constantly emote. Even though their minds are stunningly devious, we know their hearts. They are not mysterious, strong silent types. They are not out to conquer the world, they are hanging on by threads like the rest of us. Their schemes and accomplishments are always on the brink of collapse. Despite the fact they break all the rules it doesn't gain them the world. The put our struggles in perspective, they deal the way we wish we could deal, almost superhumanly, and yet they are very human. They are perhaps even more human than we, because when things go wrong for them, they don't merely think of smashing things, they smash things.

We know why they do everything that they do and we are only surprised by their confidence, their flat out audacity, and yes, their wisdom. None of these men are stupid. Flawed, certainly but not foolish. These men are enveloped in worst-case scenarios and they survive. There is always some turn of events and cadre of enemies and associates aiming at their throats. that are dogging their big-dog status, but they are preternaturally tenacious. They are absolute leaders. They are not merely movers and shakers, but knee deep in their moral shit, hands-on, red handed, underhanded and dirty handed. They bark out orders without a moment's hesitation and they never back down. They win.

The season for all of them is over. Now we have to watch the second stringers.. CSI, Law & Order CI and Touching Evil.

Posted by mbowen at June 16, 2004 02:53 PM

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Don't forget Nip/Tuck on FX. It was last summer's sleeper that snuck up on everyone. Definitely a worthy successor to The Shield's time slot.

(Was it just me, or did you expect Vic to wipe out Shane in the cliffhanger?)

Posted by: mhking at June 17, 2004 08:14 AM

That was intense. I thought for sure that Shane was going to get whacked. But now we see what Vic needs more than anything is the team. If he doesn't have the strike team, he's back to ordinary cop and he hates that. But Shane hit him where he lives.

I cannot believe how they broke Tevan. That was just.. eww. Vic is a master manipulator.

Posted by: cobb at June 17, 2004 08:25 AM

The second you're ready to hate Vic, he does something that turns your head completely around.

I figured that both Shane and Dutch would get nailed in the finale, but go figure...

And yeah, I can't get over how they did Tevan...

Posted by: mhking at June 17, 2004 10:29 AM

Oh, and I kept thinking that Shane's wife was somehow tied to this -- that she might have been an undercover Fed or something.

I know one thing, nobody's clean on that show (save maybe Claudette, but she's just as bad as the others when you peel back her righteous indignation)...

Posted by: mhking at June 17, 2004 10:32 AM

The Feds' Mole! Oh my god. What a head trip that would be. They didn't whack her mother did they?

Posted by: Cobb at June 17, 2004 10:44 AM