Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Genre Character of the Week: Jim Profit

For me, a favourite character of the week usually means a pretty decent guy, someone you'd have a coffee with, or would turn to in a crisis. This week's character however, is someone you could not pay me to come into contact with, Jim Profit.

Airing on Fox back in 1996, the television series Profit tried to do something pretty unique for TV - have the bad guy as our main character. Now I know, if you go into soap operas, this had been used before, but the character of Jim Profit is so awful, so crazy, that he basically blows all previous attempts of bad guy protagonists on TV out of the water.

The shows premise in a nutshell; At a multinational corporation called Gracen and Gracen, a newly hired executive, Jim Profit, is not all he seems. Jim wants to be the power behind the throne at the company and he will do anything (murder, blackmail, his Stepmother!?!) to achieve his dreams. The character addresses the audience directly, explaining his plans and we watch them unfold while the companies security chief, Joanne Meltzer (pictured with Profit), tries to figure out the mystery behind this compelling, yet terrifying man.

The show really confused audiences at the time, who not feeling comfortable with rooting for the bad guy, found other things to watch. Lasting only 8 episodes, Profit was, for me, one of the most compelling shows on television at the time. It borrowed a lot from Shakespeare - in fact it was originally conceived as a Richard III in the corporate world, it's main character was willing to do anything for his goals, and some of my favourite shows of the 2000s (Deadwood and Dexter to name the most obvious ones) are very similar in concept or tone.

Jim Profit was terrifying, engrossing and just damaged enough to leave you wanting more. If you haven't seen the show, check it out, you won't be disappointed.

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