tv show trope review – how to be a con artist
I love I mean LOVE quirky characters and odd story lines. Which is why I often get into shows that are not the typical cop or medical shows, or the traditional comedies, love stories or family shows. Those bore me. I like to see people who had something extra to surmount. Who took a different path. But somehow still managed to live a decent life. Were humane, if not exactly moral. The kind who would rob an adult blind without turning a hair, but will give a kid, a street person or someone who is old or frail their last dime. Who will die for their friend, but will walk by you, without a second thought. Some people say they are anti-social, but they do have bonds. Just maybe not the ones you and I might pick. They do have morals, just maybe a bit askew. But you can definitely see why they arrived where they did. And you can identify with them.
And that is why I’ve watched these shows about con artists. That and I’ve run into a few people in my life who’ve taught me that the line between right and wrong isn’t that clear a thing. Not when your choice determines whether you and your kids eat tonight, or they stay with you, or you even survive. Let alone have a roof over your head, clothes on your back and food in your belly. Whether you get fair access to what you should when you’re seen as a member of a disenfranchised group. It’s rarely about the lone criminal.
This dilemma of what is right or wrong and what you should be able to do to protect yourself and your family is why at one point I had signed up to major in criminology. Sometimes I regret not having gone into that, and others I’m glad I didn’t. Because I’d rather advocate FOR people than study or penalize them. But watching them is fun!
With that in mind….
What is a con?
It is a story, a psycho-drama that hooks someone into believing in something, or wanting something they didn’t know they wanted so much before. That seeks to right a wrong, to take from someone who has too much, to cage a bully, or to reclaim something they stole from someone else. Without that psychodrama, it’d just be a theft or extortion, wouldn’t it?
Whether it’s to make money or to get revenge for something they have done, the con treads the line of what is moral and legal. And the good con artist knows exactly where that line is. Because their freedom depends on it. They at least have to be able to mitigate the consequences they face with the reason they did it. With the story.
….What does it take to be a con artist?
The shows I have most enjoyed have something in common. They are more than liars, thieves and cheats. Their characters are:
A mix of Robin Hood – a thief with a heart of gold playing against/changing the system/screwing with “the man”
The Three Musketeers
caught up in the power intrigues of Cardinal de Richelieu and France’s King Louis XIII. Fighting for what was right over what was in power.
and Oliver Twist – orphan gets seduced by a gang of thieves. Someone who has lost it all, who got caught up in something they can no longer control. And treads the line between right and wrong in a battle of self discovery.
….the shows I liked
An honest man loses his son because a big insurance company refused to pay out for medical treatment the boy needed. In his son’s name, he assembled a team and went on to screw with those in charge of big companies who played with “the little guy’s” lives like they were gods.
An art forger is placed under arrest, and in order to stay out in the community, instead of being imprisoned, he works with an FBI art forgery team.
A con artist plays a psychic, until he falls under the eye of a serial killer who decides to teach him a lesson. The killer murders the faux psychic’s wife and son. The con artist works with an FBI team to bring the serial killer to justice, along with many others.
A young man with an amazing memory fraudulently acts as a lawyer for a big firm. And outwits the firm and the judicial system to really help people.
A con artist and PI are caught in a dance of love vs loyalty against an international crime ring who threaten their lives and their future.
…. why do I like them?
Besides the con(s), there is romance, friendship, funny moments of smart humour, and if not physical, there is verbal sparring. And hey it helps when “justice” wins, in the end. Right?
Just keep in mind, you can’t con a con or an honest man, and sometimes bad guys make the best good guys.