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TV's fascination with the idea of Con-Men

I’ve noticed that a few different shows that I’ve watched feature con-men (White Collar’s Neal Caffrey and Suits’s Mike Ross). I think an interesting article might be to explore this fascination with con-men and how TV glorifies this illegal act. Throughout the course of both Suits and White Collar we grow to love and relate to both Neal and Mike even though in the real world these are criminals. What does it say about us, our beliefs and society that we glorify these criminals?

  • This is the tv section, but a film reference is important to historical context -- when Ocean's 11 (the original) was filmed, the Rat Pack were huge stars. There was a lot of worry about having them play the roles of crooks (which: irony is a heavy thing, yeah?) because the studios were concerned people wouldn't love them any more as icons if they were seen playing bad guys, even loveable bad guys. Turns out America loves a well-dressed, witty bad guy. After Ocean's 11 was a success, leading men were allowed much more "grey" roles in Hollywood. Part of the trope certainly leans on the "bad boy" aspect, but there's also a heavy dose of underdog-wish-fulfillment in both the Caffrey and Ross characters. They're thieves, sure, and liars, and narcissists... but they aren't *evil*, they've just been in bad situations and learned how to exploit "the system" to live well. I think that has an appeal to people. – Monique 6 years ago
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  • Another thing to keep in mind, the whole point of a con-man is that they are charismatic. They get what they want by convincing people to give it to them. If they weren't likable they wouldn't be successful con-men. – OddballGentleman 6 years ago
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  • I would also check out the new pilot of Sneaky Pete on Amazon. – Erin Derwin 6 years ago
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