Right now, these are some of the biggest primetime shows: Suits, House Of Lies, Franklin And Bash, Mad Men and Breaking Bad. Aside from Breaking Bad (and I’ll get to that later), what do they all have in common? Money. They all involve lucidly slick and dangerously sharp protagonists absolutely dominating their work environment and bringing in huge salaries. These are shows about law, management consultancy and the advertising market. Ten years ago, if you were to pitch these backdrops against Jack Bauer and magical islands with dark, unimagined shadows, you would have been laughed out of the room. Nobody wanted that. But they do now. In the current climate, where jobs are more of a commodity than ever, where making money is harder and actually buying luxuries is out of the question, the public need something that helps them escape. Something that makes them, just for about forty minutes, believe that they are the king of the financial world. Cue the shows above.
And it’s not just that the protagonists are rolling in cash. It’s that the protagonists are nobodies who have made themselves invulnerable; they have worked hard for their right to wear $2000 dollar suits that are oh-so-sharp. Suits is about a pothead who accidentally lands himself a major law job, and then works hard to become a badass. Mad Men is about a man with no past who works very hard to become a badass. Franklin and Bash is actually about two cowboy lawyers who suddenly find themselves working for a big firm, where, well I mean you must see the pattern, they become badasses. For all those people who feel that have worked too hard for too long to be fired or to have been passed up for promotion, it’s the idealistic world. One where the effort you put in leads to the just rewards you deserve.
Oh and Breaking Bad? Well, that’s just the next step. This is a show for all those who have been fired and don’t know what to do or where to go. Brian Cranston’s character doesn’t get fired. He gets told he has cancer. And in that situation, where most people would shrivel up and cry, or complain that life just hasn’t been fair, he turns around and decides that this is his moment to give fate the giant metaphorical middle finger that it deserves. He starts a meth lab, and he makes a whole lot of money. Like, a lot. And to a lot of people, that is genuinely inspiring. It showcases what the public wants out of life, which is stability and a job that pays well. A dose of normality. For now, at least, Hiro Nakamura can wait.
Although that being said, it is true; we do love vampires right now. True Blood and Vampire Diaries, anyone?