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PROFIT: A (cancelled) TV show championing a sociopath

Editor’s note: The following essay was contributed to Lovefraud by Kenneth Royce at www.javelinpress.com. Ken discovered that a “friend” was a pathological liar, serial thief and con artist. “Though he made off with over $10,000 of my property in a very complicated scam,” Ken says, “it’s had the ironic benefit of outing him for the sociopath he is, and thus warning many other unsuspecting people.” He previously contributed “Optical illusions, autostereograms and sociopaths.”

A two-hour pilot and seven hour episodes were filmed in 1996. Critics raved about it, calling it one of the best TV shows in years. The writing, direction, and acting were all very good.

PROFIT follows the corporate skullduggery of junior V.P. Jim Profit, a full-blown sociopath. In his labyrinthine predation, he breaks up marriages, sets up a senior exec for a felony arrest and prison term, and even compromises the psychiatrist of his arch-enemy (a woman head of corporate security who sees Profit for what he is) to get inside her head during hypnosis. (And all that is post-childhood, after he set afire his father.) Teaming up with Profit is his also-sociopathic step-mother, as if one perfect sociopath weren’t enough.

“Imagine the ocean is full of dolphins. And [the main character] Profit is a new kind of shark that looks just like a dolphin. He could manuever among the dolphins and the dolphins would say ‘Welcome!’ in dolphin talk. And then, one night, he’d start eating them.”
— PROFIT co-creator John McNamara

American audiences hated PROFIT. Fox cancelled after the pilot and four episodes. Reasons given by director and cast for the cancellation was that Fox had neither the “patience” nor “testicular fortitude” to give the show ample opportunity to find its market. (Nope, that wasn’t it, as we shall soon see.)

The show should have always been a feature film, and one with a gratifying ending — such as Profit writhing and screaming as he roasts on a cannibals’ spit. But, as a series, for Jim Profit to be punished would end the show. Hence, the show’s concept required the unceasing victory of evil over good — a shameful premise if there ever was one.

The actor who played this sociopath thought it all rather cute:

“I don’t see him as an amoral or immoral individual. I think he had a superior set of moral values that enabled him to act with relative impunity.”
— Adrian Pasdar, “Jim Profit”

PROFIT was also acclaimed to be “five or six years ahead of its time” back in 1996. This was in part correct because TV audiences had not yet been conditioned by The Sopranos to empathize with blatant anti-heroes.

PROFIT deservedly tanked because of the show’s continuous unrequited display of justice. Jim Profit never gets caught and punished … for anything. He outwits all, every time, turning every close brush with ruin into a win. For me, it got old after the pilot and first episode — once I realized that Profit would never pay for his innumerable crimes. (Can you imagine multiple seasons of that?) Obviously, the American TV audience agreed. It was just plain creepy to be expected to root for relentless evil. I watched all 9 hours of the show, out of sheer force of will. The Profit character will infuriate any victim of sociopathy.

PROFIT, however, is worth watching for one batch of people: those who don’t grasp how sociopaths operate — and who won’t believe your descriptions, either. (They could read Shakepeare’s Othello for the sociopath Iago, but that’s probably expecting too much these days.) The sociopath’s M.O. is very competently dramaticized in this series (with helpful voice-overs), offering many key lessons:

  1. sociopaths scheme far more ahead than moral people can usually anticipate
  2. they audio/video record their victims much more often than vice versa
  3. if victims tip off their plans for justice or revenge, sociopaths make it backfire
  4. sociopaths see sudden adversity as welcome challenges; they thrive on it
  5. they always act behind the scenes, which is difficult to discern
  6. they are masters of manipulation through compartmentalization
  7. most people are clueless (or in denial) about sociopaths in their midst
  8. those who sound the warning bell are often ignored as Cassandras

Coleridge called Shakespeare’s Iago a “motiveless malignancy.” This is why sociopaths are so hard for most people to understand … at first. They are completely counterintuitive to basic human decency. Being evil for the sheer sake of evil is a foreign idea to nearly all of us. However, once you’ve “wrapped your mind” around their nature (and it’s a predictable one, too), sociopaths are easy to spot. The series PROFIT is a fine educational tool for discerning sociopathy.

What is so damnably frustrating to moral folks is that sociopaths seem to be coated in Teflon, and are rarely caught and punished for any significant percentage of their crimes and abuses. They can apparently talk and connive their way out of any scrape. This will remain true until moral folks begin to network together and expose their local sociopaths.

Reverse-engineering the sociopathic M.O. learned from PROFIT, here are some tips on how to protect yourself:

  1. record every conversation you have with known sociopaths
  2. get co-victims talking to each other and “comparing notes”
  3. NEVER tip your hand as to how you plan to expose the sociopath
  4. avoid appearing “obsessed” about warning others and/or getting justice — it will weaken your cause
  5. create opportunities for others to correctly discern being manipulated
  6. form alliances, and foment action by others — i.e., don’t do it all alone
  7. trust only those who have also been damaged by the same sociopath
  8. take your time in gathering evidence from all angles, anticipating his oiliness
  9. honestly evaluate your own weaknesses and how they’ve been exploited
  10. don’t drop one ball at a time on his head; drop several at once

Sociopaths swim throughout the human sea, and the sooner you begin to recognize their hidden shark-fin, the less damage they can do. But, it’s up to you to act, because:

“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”
— Edmund Burke

Links

Profit – Wikipedia

TV Series Profit

Netflix

Common Law Copyright 2008, Kenneth W. Royce. All Rights Reserved.



11 Comments on "PROFIT: A (cancelled) TV show championing a sociopath"

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  1. Fran says:

    I wanted to make a comment about taping… I did audiotape my ex-husband. Everytime we were in court he would say I said things or deny having agreed to certain the things. The worst example was that we had a court order to put our house on the market by a certain date. The date was in May. My ex told me it was ok to wait until June so the kids could finish up their school year. Right after the court appointed date went by, I received a notice for contempt of court..for not putting the house up for sale. I felt I needed some back up of what was being said, so I did start to tape our conversations. What I found was that it took a lot of effort and my lawyer wasn’t really interested in using the tapes. Also, my ex used it to make me sound crazy. What I ended up doing was to stop talking to him altogether (no contact rule) and then having him write down any communication. This proved to be the best approach by far. It was less work for me, he was, and still is, less likely to even attempt to contact me (too much work) and I have a good record. Now, in court if he says, “She said….” I can say I don’t talk to you at all, so that is not possible” Also, I learned the hard lesson of never taking his word anyway. I need a written record of everything. My advice would be not for victims to audiotape. Having everything in writing reduces contact, is easier to manage, and has more weight in court.



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  2. Wini says:

    Well the reruns of Profit are back on TV. I just viewed it for the first time this week on Chiller.

    Reminded me of my bosses (and their cronies) and my ex. All the same … always destroying every one, every thing and any thing in their paths that shine. They always want that darkness of theirs to stamp out our lights … even though they are attracted to our Lights. God gives us our lights as we walk a righteous path through life. Those in the dark can get this light too, they need to understand that living from their big egos is not God’s way to live righteously. They are missing the blessings God teaches us while we take the righteous path.

    For those who do not believe in God. Make me a flower. Make me a tree. Make me the skies. Make me the rain falling on our earth. Make any thing that God has bestowed upon us all to enjoy.

    Peace and Love to every one and smile, it’s contagious.



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