“What fictional character (or characters) would you most like to spend time with and what would you do together?”
Of course, my mind instantly went to Leverage, the socially conscious program about a group of thieves and con artists who take on the rich, powerful, and corrupt. (I've written about this show for both Chicago Now and my personal blog). As someone dedicated to social justice, I really enjoy the show (having binged upon it via Ion Television), and also feel that right now...it's due for a revival.
(I'm also working on a novel that's very Leverage-esque...but more on that when it's released).
Part of the reason to hang with the Leverage crew...is that they do wrong to do right. Yes, they're criminals, but they're also taking on the powers that be. As a man who wishes for the energy of his youth to catch up with his idealism....it's a very appealing notion. Plus, the Leverage crew was a family by choice rather than family by chance: there was a shared idealism that stretched from the first episode The Nigerian Job to the finale The Last Goodbye Job. Having friends who share ideals is....empowering.
One cool thing would be the ability to work with Nathan Ford (played by Timothy Hutton)....or possibly not. He and I share very similar mindsets - obsessive, manipulative, and determined. (The only thing we don't share is a drinking problem). Of course, I would probably want to pick his brain about handling tough situations like negotiating social services....or wooing a crush.
(Yes, Leverage was rather goofy like that. Part of the fun would be having those warm-and-offbeat moments in between aspects of the job. And yes, I would be risking arrest and jail...but it would be in a fictional realm. Not the real world with real consequences).
On the other hand, a better tutor for handling people would be Sophie Devereaux, the team's resident grifter (played by Gina Bellman). She also hasn't let that define her...in fact, for awhile, she took time off to "find herself", as the old cliche goes. But she has a kind of nurturing quality, as well as a strong sense of self. Yes, she has an on-again off-again thing with Nathan, but there's something about her being so down-to-earth yet acknowledging her ability to influence people that would make her a potentially great ally. Of course, I probably would not necessarily trust her....but that's just part of the territory.
Of course, part of the fun would be watching the bickering between Alec Hardison, the hacker (played by Aldis Hodge) and Elliot Spenser, the hitter/retrieval specialist (played by Christian Kane). Much of their banter reminds me of my youth: reading Monk and Ham bicker in old Doc Savage pulps or listening to my mother's old Smothers Brothers albums. It's an almost classic push-and-pull: Hardison's laid back technological savvy against Eliot's culinary skills and physical dexterity. Ironically, this is the pair that I would probably hang out with most...in fact, several of my friends and I engage in Leverage-style banter that ends up with one of them yelling "Dammit Hardison!"
(Plus, I think it would be cool to see how Hardison reacts to my nickname for Eliot: Punchy McKickface)
Finally, there's Parker, the thief (played by Beth Riesgraf), and to be honest....I'm not sure how I would relate to her. After all, she's a bit socially awkward (like me), she sees the world in a different way...
Ok, I've found the reason. I need people who are different than I am. Not just in the demographic sense, but in their experiences. One of Leverage's main strengths wasn't in the elaborate nature of their plots (although let's be honest....they were smartly written).
Leverage's key strength is its emphasis on people and personalities over tropes and gimmicks.
As I write this, our President called for a ban on transgendered individuals in the military. Friends on Twitter were sharing information, organizations to support, and other information. In short, we were becoming a Leverage-style crew focused on helping people through this crisis.
I think the other main strength of Leverage has been its focus on "normal" people. In a media climate where the paranormal (superheroes and other larger-than-life characters) serve as escapist fare, Leverage provides a nice punitive quality: not only does the antagonist lose - they experience severe consequences.
Is it possible to hang with a fictional crew of criminals? Not really...but the ultimate strength of Leverage is the idea that communities aren't just large collections of people....just a small group with a common goal.
And I can live that daily.
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And as always, thanks for reading!