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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. JaneSmith says:

    I’m not surprised Adrian Pasdar defended the character he portrayed. It’s a reflection on himself. If he claimed instead..”Profit literally destroys hundreds of lives all for his own immature, selfish, malignant desires. He leaves them destitute, miserable and suicidal. But, ya know, it’s so much FUN pretending to be an evil psychopath. I never get bored with this type of guy!”…wouldn’t most normal, conscientious folk be repulsed by such sentiments? Heck yeah!!

    I wouldn’t doubt if the above was his true thoughts about Profit. You never know with these celebrity people. I can’t even watch tv anymore it disgusts me so much. Only the educational or commentary programs can garner any interest from me. The dramas not only disturb me with the gratuitous violence and disrespect for the dead, but the script writers have no compunction throwing in massive insults directed to our Lord and Savoir. Using and abusing a Holy name as an expletive seems so common and accepted that it turns my stomach. This type of anti-christian behavoir is so childish and petty, and seems par for the course with the networks.

    Thanks for posting the article, Donna. And I will be singing the praises of LoveFraud for years on end. If it wasn’t for this site, I would never have been able to heal as quickly as I have. And the extensive and powerful knowledge I’ve learned will be used DAILY to guard and protect myself from subhuman predators.

  2. EMJ170ORD says:

    Where does one get a copy of this series? I would watch it, knowing what I know now. Another learning tool! Funny how information about S seems to be coming out of the woodwork; but would I have believed all of it before this experience? Probably not. I had to go to the school of hard knocks first to believe and understand.

  3. OxDrover says:

    I don’t watch the “soaps” but have a bit of knowledge about some of their plots and so may of the villians on the soaps are Psychopaths and those shows go on for years and years.

    The Godfather movies and lots of others seem to champion the “bad guy.” I pretty well quit watching TV, either broadcast or cable years ago and now only watch DVD movies that I want to watch, get most of my news off the net and read books for the rest of my evening “entertainment” instead of “the tube.”

    I’m a bit like Jane in that the gratuitous violence even in otherwise GOOD movies sort of makes me sick. Just “gore for the sake of GORE” isn’t necessary in my book to tell a story, and the same for sexual intercourse, “hinting” at it can advance the story without us having to watch 10 minutes of grunts and groans before the story advances. (I realize that some people may not agree with me on that and that’s why they sell lots of tickets to those movies LOL)

    One of my close friends who lives at some distance has a TV on in hr house from the time she gets up until she goes to sleep, even if she is not watching it, it is “noise” in the back ground. When she comes to my house for a week or so to visit, she says the “quiet drives me crazy”—because there is no TV going. There is music sometimes, or nature (frogs are loud at night) but to her that is “silence,” something she is uncomfortable with. To me it is BLISS. Occasionally I will hear a helicopter fly over, or a C147, or a heavy truck going up the hill will make a bit of noise, but over all, there isn’t a lot of ambient noise from humans out here where I live which is okay with me.

    When I go to visit her and there is a constant river of noise, with car horns, door slamming, people shouting, sirens screaming, etc. I feel “hemmed in” by humanity. Different strokes for different folks!

    I do think though that the constant barage that our children see of sex and violence makes them insensitive to such things.

    I’d like Liane to chime in on what she thinks the effects television and movie violence on children is. On adults as far as that goes, too.

  4. Glinda says:

    I don’t like alot of what is on tv/movies either. I’ve had enough of “reality.” Give me comedy and relatively harmless fiction, please. One show we do watch is “My Name is Earl.” (If you don’t know, Earl was a low-life and a criminal. He has an epiphany about how his actions have led to his current circumstances and wants to make it “right” with Karma.) Each episode he tries to “undo” something bad he’s done. (It’s taken a turn with some adult content where it’s not really appropriate for my 8yo this past season, but earlier episodes are ok.)

    While watching some earlier episodes, my 8yo remarked that he wished that his dad was more like Earl… a bad guy trying to be a good guy. That his dad should try to make up for what he has done. It was so sweet and poignant. I just said I wished for that too and let the subject drop. (What am I going to do? Tell an 8yo that his half his gene pool is pure evil? Um, no.)

    I don’t know that I could watch “Profit,” just the description makes feel dirty.

  5. Fran says:

    I think this post provides a lot of good advice. Recently, there has been some talk of Charlie Sheen and Denise Richards. I don’t know too much about either of them, but from what I have read, it seems that Charlie Sheen could have some sociopathic traits.

    I have read that Denise Richards is going to be doing a reality show about her life. She has been criticized for dragging her children into the public light, but if Charlie is a sociopath (or has those traits) then this reality show could be the best thing for those children. Charlie is less likely to misbehave in the public eye. He won’t want the world to see the “real” him, so he’ll “act” like the perfect father. This isn’t the most ideal situation for the children, but it will protect them to some degree.

    I bet many readers out there wish there could be a reality show based on their sociopath. These shows would open a lot of eyes, and make people realize that you can’t judge a book by its shiny cover!

  6. Glinda says:

    Free,
    He probably was trying to contact Jaime Pressley…had decided she was in love with his awesome-ness and was secretly pining away for him. At least, I’m pretty sure that’s what the p in my house doing. He was also trying to get onto Iron Chef and Throw Down with Bobby Flay. I, on the other hand, kept trying to get him on a crab boat ala, “Deadliest Catch.” Take the odds where you can!

    I think the best bet, and legal way, to rid the world of sociopaths is to encourage their sense of invincibility and need for thrills and danger. Get them sky-diving passes for presents. Tell them they aren’t brave enough to be an “Ice Trucker.” How about swimming with sharks dressed like a seal? Be creative. Not everyone climbs back down from Mt Everest. ;)

  7. OxDrover says:

    OH, GLINDA,

    YOU MADE ME LAUGH! What a wonderful idea! Hey, how aobut another reality show “Devil’s Island” we could put all the Ps on one island and then have helicopters with directional mikes overhead to film what happened as they formed gangs to steal and maim each other, and the last one standing, the lone survivor of each episode would get another new batch of Ps the next week. Kind of like Gladiators but “for real”–since there would never be an end to the supply of Ps, it could go on season after season!

    The Ps would be lining up saying “Pick me Pick ME!” to get on the show–each one so arrogant that they just Knew they would get their 15 minutes of fame! Of course, we wouldn’t have to watch this XXXXXXX rated show, but the Ps would ALL tune in so it would be a BIG HIT and ratings would skyrocket! It would put World wide wrestling and all the other “reality” shows out of business completely.

    BUY stock in this series ladies and gents, it will make our fortunes! LOL

    Is that creative enough Glinda!?! LOL

  8. Glinda says:

    Kind of like “Lord of the Flies” meets “Escape from New York.” I like it, but I get dibs on Kurt Russell. Maybe we can get Charlie Sheen to commentate ;)

    Don’t forget the gambling, oh how they love to gamble…vegas odds and high rollers. For the socio’s who aren’t quite ready to admit they are what they are and don’t go on the show. We get a take of that “high functioning socio” action too!

    And profits (hehe, pun intended) from the show would go to cs arrears for children of socio’s and legal fees of socio survivors.

  9. Perfect: Love Connection for Sociopaths.
    or one of those bachelor shows : )

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