My girlfriend and I were talking tonight as she marathoned her way through season 2 of Hannibal. I tried to get into Hannibal a couple years ago and I found myself pretty disinterested, so I had no problem listening to her as she was going over some talking points.
“Oh my God,” she said, “There’s literally a character on this show that drinks orphan tears.”
“Let me guess,” I replied, “I’m gonna say…congressman?”
“Abusive heir to the largest pork producer in America.”
“Yeah, that sounds about right.”
It took until Hannibal (and to some extent my own watching of ABC’s Quantico) for me to realize the funny thing about TV psychopaths: Like 70% of America’s social elite are horrible, horrible people.
You’re never going to find a psychopath janitor, or a psychopath mailroom clerk. I would be surprised if you found psychopathic middle management. No, it seems that all the world’s—or at least the United States’—truly fucked up people own yachts, or villas, or a second house in “the Hamptons.”
And for the record, I don’t mean that TV criminals can’t be laborers. There’s plenty of Law & Order episodes that end with a tense standoff with the convenience store clerk (although after thirty years there’s plenty of Law & Order episodes with everything). But you know the kind of bad guy I’m talking about:
Picture a vaulted ceiling, white walls with gold accents, and shiny marble floors. A man in a three piece suit stands in the center of the room holding a glass of red wine and dancing slowly with himself while classical music plays in the background on vinyl. Inevitably, according to the unnatural laws that dictate television drama, this person has a freezer in his basement with a label on the lid that says “Human Faces; June – September.”
And I understand; if I was to Wikipedia “sociopath” right now it would tell me that because of a lack of empathy there is a disproportionate number of CEOs, venture capitalists, and stock traders who show signs of being completely devoid of the ability to perceive human emotion. Plus, speaking from experience, it’s a ton of fun to write these kinds of classy sophisticated killers.
But now that everyone’s done it I’m starting to think that anybody with a fifth zero on their annual paycheck might secretly be starting their day off with a piping hot cup of baby blood. Taken as one cohesive whole the picture painted by American drama shows is one that has every position of wealth, power, or social importance in the hands of a thirtysomething man with a taste for murderous sadomasochism. It’s kind of funny, really. I like to think that they all share a Kik group or a Facebook chat or something.
I mean, it’s ludicrous to think that every single decision-making power in America today is…completely…insane…