One of the pleasures of banging out a show like Leverage is that we hit at the exact same time the economic meltdown laid bare over-the-top executive-level corruption. (these aren't the story starters -- we're not L&O -- but simply examples):
How To Rob a Bank You Own - one of the plots of the 2nd season premiere
Corporations Testing drugs on children and, you know, maybe killing them. - Mile High Job & The Juror #6 Job
Insurance Company claims coverage is experimental and lets your kid die - The Nigerian Job
Contractors defrauding Katrina victims - The Snow Job
Corporate espionage - The Nigerian Job
Like we always say, we're not anti-corporation, we're anti-corrupt corporation. Just like Criminal Minds isn't anti-scraggly white dude, just anti-flesh-eating scraggly white dude. What's amazing is that as we amp things up for dramatic effect and embrace the idea that we're a pulp show -- reality has far, far surpassed us:
Guy fakes his death by JUMPING OUT OF A FRIKKIN' AIRPLANE.
Suit runs ten year $50 billion Ponzi scheme in full view of SEC.
Swiss financier smuggles diamonds in a tube of TOOTHPASTE.
Seriously, I can imagine the forum postings, the hoots of derision if we went for the toothpaste/diamond plot. I'm fairly sure you will see a house-arrest episode this year, however. I mean, for chrissake, the guy tried to mail $1 million in jewelry right out from under the noses of the Feds. Mail. In an envelope.
What I'm circling in on here is that our show Leverage depends on real-life social injustice as fuel for storylines and characters. We particularly depend on the broken health insurance model. Our protagonist, Nate Ford, lost a son to the "experimental treatment" dodge, sending him into his Robin Hood life of crime and functional alcoholism. Many of our victims are financially devastated by the perfidy of insurance companies, or crushed by health costs incurred as a result of other corporate misbehaviour. Redressing these sins, or scamming the bad guys to find the money to help these working-class victims rebuild their lives, is the driving force behind our show. And it's not just us: on Life a few weeks ago, a female coroner acted as an ccessroy to a crime solely so she wouldn't lose her health insurance while pregnant. Financial distress and criminal cover-up directly related to our broken health care system suffuse the American TV drama world.
Listen, fine, so 47 million Americans are uninsured and some 20 odd million Americans are under-insured, and 50% of all personal bankruptcies are caused by health costs, and 1.5 million families a year (a year) lose their homes because of health costs -- if you bring to America the same system of universal health care provided by every other Western nation at half the cost of our broken system -- all that suffering goes away. And as that suffering disappears, so do our plotlines.
Every TV show creates a hundred or so good union jobs, not to mention the downstream income and jobs created by the advertising, broadcast, and secondary distribution markets. Hollywood is one of the few American industries with an overall international trade surplus -- and much of its output is threatened by the current Administration's efforts to provide universal, affordable coverage to all Americans.
Granted, our recent lobbying to make sure the execs who brought about the current economic collapse escaped responsibility was startlingly effective. Without ruling-class villains there's no need for working-class heroes, and thank God that source of storylines remains intact. But this health insurance issue promises to be an even bigger threat. This is why we at Kung Fu Monkey are asking everyone who reads this blog to oppose all efforts to bring about universal health care to the US. Our misery-based fictions depend on it!