Saturday, September 25, 2010

7 Reasons Why Leverage Is An Awesome Show

My hands-down favorite television show is Leverage. I know it is my favorite because I like to watch at least one episode every day that I have time. I don't watch a lot of television, so this is incredibly unusual for me.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Leverage, the premise is as follows: Four professional criminals - a hacker (Alec Hardison), a grifter (known as Sophie Devereaux), a hitter (Eliot Spencer), and a thief (Parker) - are brought together for one job, and an "honest man" named Nate Ford is brought in to coordinate the job and to keep them in check. When it's over, they find they have a taste for working together, and they decide to find jobs helping good, average people whose lives have been destroyed by evil rich people and corporations. The average people can't do anything to save themselves, and the people who hurt them are usually outside the law for one reason or another, so the Leverage crew comes in to provide, well, leverage.

So why do I love it?

  1. I'd hang out with all five main characters. Normally, in shows, books, and movies, there is at least one main character who is annoying, or hateful, or otherwise generally detestable. I like House, for instance, but I don't care for Taub or Cameron. Yet with Leverage, I'd go for coffee with any member of the crew, any time. I do admit, Parker is my favorite. She's a total weirdo.
  2. There's minimal drama. The characters have a family-like dynamic, except they probably get along better than any normal family. Leverage isn't based on drama. Occasionally it hints at romantic tension between Nate and Sophie, or between Parker and Hardison, but it's a minimal aspect of the show - just enough to keep it realistic. This keeps the show focused on the jobs, instead of on "feelings" or whatever.
  3. They switch roles fairly regularly. They all have "their" job, the skill that makes them useful to the crew - but sometimes, for various reasons, they have to switch jobs. Sophie wants to try taking Nate's place, or Hardison misses a flight and has to verbally walk Parker through the hacking, or they need a guy to be the grifter and Eliot takes the role. This job-switching keeps it even more interesting.
  4. It's more than schadenfreude. Honestly, who doesn't want to see the bad guy get what he deserves? But often in the process of a con, they discover that a lot more people are getting hurt than their client, and that taking down the bad guy will actually save a lot of lives. They aren't just Robin Hood. They're also a sort of stealthy Justice League.
  5. It's got humor, and not stupid humor. Leverage is a funny show. Besides the usual interaction between chill-guy Hardison and the high-strung Eliot, there's also the time Parker pretended to be Björk in order to infiltrate a studio.
  6. The crew solves problems and puzzles on the fly. I'm a sucker for stories about smart, skilled people, and the crew is entirely that kind of people. If they find a wall, they make a door, or they go in through the ceiling. If their plan fails, they come up with a new one, even if time and physics are against them - for, as Sophie once put it, "chance does seem to bend itself to [Nate's] bizarre machinations." They come up with creative solutions to unexpected problems in minimal time, and that is, to me, the most exciting kind of show.
  7. The characters have a bizarre kind of freedom. What makes their creativity possible is that they are essentially unhindered by the law. They don't have to think, "What am I allowed to do?" They only have to think, "What will work best here?" It definitely makes "thinking outside the box" easier, since they essentially removed the box by working outside the law. It's not a good idea for normal, real people, but it makes a wonderful television show.


botsfri said...

Nice highlighted observations, and summary !! I love the show,…yet, would have never put all the parts together, with such levels of concise details that make it so fun to watch.

botsfri said...

BTW, made me look up, "schadenfreude. Nice...