I’ve been hooked lately on a BBC British television comedy called THE THICK OF IT. It’s the kind of British TV where I miss at least 1/5th of it because I don’t understand the references or can’t quite understand what they’re saying with such thick accents. I muddle through straining my ears to catch the fast flying wit. I can’t tear myself away because of the leading anti-hero, Malcolm Tucker.
Malcolm spends most of his time spewing explicit images of sexual assault and torture at the people who’ve made him angry–which is most of the people most of the time. He does this with great inventive satiric force. He’s a bully. While I’m sure in real life someone like Malcolm would terrify me, giving me permanent heart palpitations, as I’m watching the show, I confess, I relish his appearance. When Malcolm shows up, you knowing the sh** is going to fly. It’s just so wrong, but I’m finding him more and more attractive.
Why? Why is this happening? I don’t know. Well, actually…I think I do know. Malcolm’s a bully, but he’s a labor bully. It’s like the labor party members are rats hopelessly lost in the idiotic maze of bureaucracy and scandal. The rats all want to huddle in a corner, but Malcolm’s job is to keep giving them random shocks so they’ll scamper towards the cheese. He’s a motivating force, the engine of fear and aggression that drives the satirical show.
Moreover, Malcolm speaks nicely to all the cleaning people who come into the government offices late at night and polish the place up. Top all that off with the cherry on top –Malcolm has a great Scottish accent. I sit there listening to the foul invective spitting from his lips like it’s the poetry of Robby Burns.
I guess it’s like being attracted to Hugh Grant’s character on House. Cranky, mean, disrespectful?– yes, yes, and yes. But the characters share some traits in common:
1) They care about their jobs with a single-minded intensity.
2) They don’t stop caring. They care way more than anyone else.
3) They keep trying and won’t stop trying until they are successful (or the patient is dead).
4) They exude absolute confidence, intelligence, and dexterity in all their doings.
Sounds heroic, yes?
5) Other than that, they keep the bar really low when it comes to behaving well. This trait is something that I, for some perverse reason, always find super-comfortable to be around.
These admirable traits, buried in obviously flawed characters, make them deeply appealing–to me at least.
House’s character — much like Malcolm Tucker’s character — is basically heartless. That just adds to the appeal somehow. It’s so unfair, but when these characters do show a tiny drop of compassion or decency, it goes a long, long way.
So are there any heartless anti-heros out there that you sigh over? I have a friend who had a crush on Richard III for awhile. Meanwhile, they say a book is only as good as its villain. Recommend your favorite romance villains in the comments section below. Or maybe mention them on twitter? #GreatRomanceVillains Here’s my twitter handle– @madelineiva.
P.S. You can find THICK OF IT on hulu. There was a movie called In The Loop that is based on the television show that’s every bit as good.