Monday, February 27, 2006


I'm going with short-lived series for my TV selections from Netflix lately, and this one lasted only eight episodes on Fox in 1996 (actually, not even all the episodes made it to air). Created by David Greenwalt of Angel fame and John McNamara of the equally short-lived Fastlane and Eyes, Profit is typically touted as being ahead of its time, but I'm not sure that such a bizarrely amoral show would have any sort of success even now, although maybe if it were on FX or something it might work. Adrian Pasdar, who has one of the most evil voices in showbiz (even on the DVD commentary he sounds like he's getting ready to roast up some babies) plays Jim Profit, a guy with a fucked-up childhood (he was raised in a cardboard box) who climbs the corporate ladder by any means necessary. And they're not kidding when they say "any means."

In the course of eight episodes, Profit murders his father, sleeps with his stepmother, seduces the wife of one of his superiors, and takes advantage of child abuse, suicide, sexual harassment and latent homosexual tendencies to manipulate his co-workers into doing what he wants them to do. And he's the protagonist of the show. I wouldn't even really call him an anti-hero, because while he's charming and you do sometimes root for him to get what he wants, it's not even like he's doing terrible things in service of a greater justice. He's just doing them in service of fucking people over and improving his own status at the company.

Despite some awkward plotting and a somewhat shaky start, Profit evolves into a darkly comic show that's definitely always pushing boundaries (they've got a lesbian relationship that's pretty racy for network TV in 1996), sometimes in the area of good taste (as when Profit forces his assistant to seduce the man who nearly raped her). By the end of the DVDs, I was disappointed that there weren't any more episodes. The show probably has little to do with the actual business world, but it takes all the underhanded but legal tactics that people engage in at corporations and blows them up into ridiculously over the top situations that spotlight just how immoral some corporate politics are if you take them to their logical conclusion. Mostly, though, it revels in being sadistically hilarious, and that was what made me want to keep watching.

No comments: