PROFIT (1996)

(DVD/YouTube) PROFIT has the dubious honor of ushering in the modern era of asshole male anti-heroes, despite the fact that practically no one watched it which resulted in it being cancelled having only aired four episodes (four more were aired on the late, lamented — at least by me — Trio channel, and are available on the very out-of-print DVD).

That said, critics loved it, despite the fact that the lead character — Jim Profit, yes that’s his name — is a cutthroat corporate man, willing to do anything to get ahead. The storytelling engine has him crushing a fellow employee (or just someone in his way), then celebrating by opening up a hilariously dated virtual reality app and shattering their poorly rendered 3D likeness.

On top of this, he has severe mental issues: he killed his father, slept with his mom (well, step-mother), and every episode ends with him climbing naked into a cardboard box to sleep.

While you might think that this would be played as a soap, no, it’s played straight as straight as can be, often with grizzled narration from Profit himself, occasionally even addressing the audience. It helps that Jim Profit, played by Adrian Pasdar, could turn on the charm in a way that few other TV anti-heroes have managed. (Gandolfini excepted, of course.)

At the time, there was nothing like it on air, which sadly seems to be why FOX briefly flirted with the idea of rebooting it. (Given the state of the world right now, it appears they’ve wisely realized that’s a terrible idea.)

I’m not going to say PROFIT was a great show, but it did have a lot of fantastic — albeit absurd — character work. Also, just about anyone reading this probably has loved one of the shows that creators John McNamara (THE MAGICIANS, JERICHO, BRISCO COUNTY JR.) or David Greenblatt (EUREKA, GRIMM, SURFACE) have been heavily involved with. (Also, both worked on ANGEL.)

While the entire series is difficult to find, the 90min pilot is available on YouTube, which should give you more than enough of a taste for the show.