Citizen Boss

There’s something about the gifted asshole that we love. A mediocre or just an average asshole would be impossible as a protagonist. But make him sharp as a razor and give him some charm, and we’re eating from his hand.

I’ve been watching Boss, the 2011 TV show about a fictional mayor of Chicago. Mayor Tom Kane has bought into the idea that he is the city, and sometimes he deems it necessary to rule it with an iron fist. His fist, however, only ever strikes in the shadows.

Appearance and politics becomes everything once he learns that he’s suffering from a neurological disease, one that will ultimately kill him. As long as he can cling to his throne, life is still in his grasp – and he becomes increasingly desperate to hang on. Not that he was ever in the game “for the people”, even if the thought helps to ease the guilt over his cutthroat political ambition.

The mayor believes that “people want to be led“, and perhaps our fascination for these bastard alpha males (like Mad Men’s Don Draper) suggest that there’s some truth to it. I know I’ve enjoyed every second of watching the show, and the biggest reason is Kelsey Grammer’s vibrant, fascinating and terrifying portrayal of Tom Kane.

Yes, Kane. It’s no coincidence that the mayor shares his name with the publishing tycoon of Citizen Kane. They overlap each other in ambition and in who they become.

The theme is clear from the show’s very first scene – where Kane is given his diagnosis and an estimate of how long he’s got left. He’s told that both his mental and physical faculties will wither until he finally expires. Whenever you’re cheering for him in the face of adversity, you still know that any victory is just a temporary pause on the downward spiral. Together with the fact that the protagonist is a democratic despot, watching Boss makes for an emotionally complex experience. One that I recommend.

The dark sisters

Stress and Sadness. Fear and Longing. Worry and Sorrow. They go under different names, but we know them well. We know their real names. Anxiety. Melancholia. Like dark sisters that never meet. One is our enemy. One our friend.

They seem similar, but they’re not. Both seem to arise from the same dark, hidden place, but one whispers while the other yells. If it was possible to choose between the two, the choice would be a simple one. But it’s not possible. They come and go as they like.

Anxiety is like a predator. She buries her claws deep into your flesh, feeds on you, and leaves you bruised or worse. You want to flee, but this is not the pre-historic savannah and running will take you nowhere. So you remain on your chair as she screams at you, shouting ugly things. You dont want to listen any more, but it was never a choice in the first place, was it?

Melancholy is a cocoon. She slowly grows around you until you are fully enclosed and divorced from the world. Inside that cocoon is the entire universe, cold and vast. With her near you are alone, on a mountaintop in the faint light of distant stars, feeling the night’s breeze against your naked skin. The world is an ocean embracing you, and you can feel every inch of the never-ending depth’s ice cold water.

It’s the summer sunrise before the others have waken up. The starry night when they’re asleep.