My name is Sadie Gennis. And I love TV psychopaths.
I don't know what it is about them. Actually, that's a lie. I do know. It's because, as TLC oh-so wisely said, they're crazy, sexy, cool. Ok, so TLC might not have been speaking about psychopaths, but then again you never know. And really, it's not unheard of to love psychopaths. In fact, you've probably fancied yourself one or two over the years as well.
Klaus Mikaelson (The Vampire Diaires), Dexter Morgan (Dexter), Walter White (Breaking Bad), Frank Underwood (House of Cards) — all psychopaths. Or at least mildly psychopathic.
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According to Dr. Bob Hare's checklist, traits of psychopathy include everything from glibness, a grandiose sense of self-worth and lack of empathy to a lack of realistic long-term goals, juvenile delinquency and even promiscuous sexual behavior. Pretty much, once you read the checklist, you'll become convinced half the characters on TV are not only psychopaths, but that they make up the half of that you're attracted to.
Why is this?
Because psychopaths are always the most charming, confident and successful characters on any given show. Just look at The Following's Joe Carroll (James Purefoy). There's a reason he's convinced dozens — if not hundreds — of people to kill and kidnap for him: the man's got charisma and chutzpah! He's smart, attractive and far more complex than any of the "good" guys we're supposed to root for.
Plus, he's driven. Though I might not support murder, torture and his general macabre lifestyle, I'm unwillingly drawn to his achievement. When Joe wants something, he makes it happen, even under apparently insurmountable circumstances. Arrested? No problem? Under close FBI surveillance? Who cares?! The man gets things done.
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His straight and narrow nemesis Ryan Hardy (Kevin Bacon), on the other hand, can barely keep his head above water. He flounders at every turn and other than steely determination to atone, he's completely emotionally unavailable. Compared to Ryan, Joe is a regular fountain of feelings. When he saw his son for the first time in last week's episode and was all teary-eyed and overwhelmed, I felt for him! He might be a serial killer, but he's still is a dad and the hesitant way his son stared at him, with only a hint of recognition and full of fear — that sh-- was sad!
I know I'm starting to sound like one of those women on PrisonPenPals.com, but I can't help it. Give me Batman over Superman any day. Or better yet, give me the Green Arrow.
There's a reason out of all the failed comic book shows in recent years Arrow is the only one to survive. Oliver Queen is batsh-- crazy! He just goes around all day with his dead eyes, murdering people because their names happen to be on a list. It's fantastic!
And while I love both Wincheseters on Supernatural dearly, I have never been more attracted to Sam than when he had lost his soul. Gone was the self-doubt, self-loathing, worry and weakness. He was confident, motivated and yes, completely evil. But Soulless Sam had swagger, and I loved it.
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But my love of psychopaths goes farther back to probably and the most emotionally damaging catalyst of all: Veronica Mars. You may not want to remember, but before Rob Thomas started showing us Logan Echoll's soft underbelly, even Veronica labeled him Neptune High's "obligatory psychotic jackass." And she had every right to. The Logan we first met organized hobo fights for sport, he gave his friend GHB to get him laid and at that same party had people take body shots off the roofied Veronica.
"But he's so damaged," we tell ourselves. "It's his abusive father's fault. I can fix him."
We love making excuses for psychopaths, allowing these nutjobs to become the victims of their situation, instead of empathizing with their actual victims. All because they seem more layered, alluring, and frankly, make for better television.
Good guys are just too predictable, hampered by their ethics like an altruistic ball and chain. We never know what to expect from psychopaths since they are not bound by our same moral qualms. And no matter how evil someone gets, we always believe there's hope for redemption (at least long enough to have a hot one-night stand).
As long as my psychopath obsession remains strictly in the TV realm, I see no problem with crushing on the crazies. Psychopaths are hot and you know it.
Who are your favorite TV psychopaths? Or do you prefer the good guy? Why? Share in the comments below!
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