Stuff I Like - The Middleman

The guy who runs DC Comics at the moment is named Dan Didio. This is what he thinks about heroes.

Heroes shouldn’t have happy personal lives. They are committed to being that person and committed to defending others at the sacrifice of their own personal interests.... It’s wonderful that they try to establish personal lives, but it’s equally important that they set them aside. That is our mandate, that is our edict and that is our stand.

...this is why I haven't bought a DC comic in almost four years.

But! We are talking about positivity this month. Javier Grillo-Marxauch is the creator of The Middleman. And this is what he thinks about heroes, at least in relation to his own work.

...for me, thinking about heroism and doing the right thing in my own life – good deeds aren’t always punished, they just don’t go rewarded immediately. That was an interesting point to put across, because that genre of material can be extremely dark and extremely grim, and I thought there was room for a rival hypothesis here, one that was maybe equally valid. I don’t think being downbeat is a question of being realistic or unrealistic. I think it’s a question of world view. It just happens that this is my world view, and I wanted to express it through this medium.

The Middleman was a one-season wonder, running in the summer of 2008 (on ABC Family, of all places). And it took the radical view that maybe, just maybe, working towards a better world shouldn't completely destroy the lives of the people doing that work.

Also, catsuit.

One thing that makes me crazy about pop culture is the reliance of grinding misery in our escapism. Shows like Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead seem designed to punish the viewer for daring to care about the characters. If a movie has a happy ending, you are sure to find a "thinkpiece" tearing it to shreds and explaining why it would have been so much better if the characters had died. It feels like I've heard the same jackass theory about six different movies and shows explaining that the protagonist actually croaked at the end of Act II, and everything that followed was just his wish fulfillment as the electricity in his brain slowly went out.

In The Middleman, the good guys win. They win because they work hard. There are no episodes where either of the main characters stare off into the distance, contemplating their sadness, while a Sara Barielles/Ryan Adams song plays on the soundtrack. They're too busy doing stuff like chasing down vampire puppets.

The Middleman is, despite the quippiness and nigh-endless pop culture references, old-fashioned. The heroes are heroic. The villains are villainous. The world's at stake. There are gangster gorillas, haunted musical instruments and flying zombie fish. But it's not a parody, it's a comedy. There's a difference, and it comes down to the fact that the characters are believable despite the occasional ridiculousness of the situations.


It would be so easy for The Middleman to be a smug jerk, or Wendy to be a jaded nihilist, but they both run much deeper than that. They both have inner lives, wants and needs, and are both driven to do the right thing. They're pretty great. The show is great. Seek it out, it's available on DVD and iTunes, and hopefully will stream somewhere eventually.

In conclusion: I have laughed at this video every single time I've watched it. And I have watched it many times.