What character motive do traditional fairytales, Shakespeare, and modern day political television series share? The never-ceasing quest for power providing fire to the veins of all the best villain’s journeys. The theme comes as no surprise as power and corruption clasp hands in civilized societies and art reflects life. Television character’s decisions effect fictional lives and therefore can be admired for their cunning deviousness rather than abhorred and chastised like the real life monsters in our world.
3 Political Villains on Television Right Now
FRANK UNDERWOOD – HOUSE OF CARDS
Netflix’s first original series brought the world the glory that is Frank Underwood, a fictional corrupt President that at least a few wish was real life number 45. Haters circulated rumors that the characters were influenced by various American political elites, but even when humanized Frank and his wife Claire posses an unattainable pragmatism. Frank is despicable yet undeniably captivating as he meticulously plays everyone like pawns in a chess game where the presidency is the prize.
Quintessential Quote: “The road to power is paved with hypocrisy, and casualties. Never regret.” (Season 2, Episode 9)
OLIVIA POPE – SCANDAL
Olivia Pope’s quest for prestige, for the oval, and debatably for the approval of her truly diabolical, shadow-government father tarnished the “white hat” she donned in season one. Her murderous social circle, the countless cover-ups of others mistakes, and that whole hostage situation turned Olivia’s hat pure black. Scandal exemplifies Lord Acton’s quote “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” While many on the show are more archetypically villainous, Olivia’s ability to spin her Machiavellian opportunism as fighting for the greater good even in her own mind set her apart. Luckily for us, evil always makes for more interesting television.
Quintessential Quote: “I always have cards left to play.” (Season 1, Episode 6)
CERSEI LANNISTER – GAME OF THRONES
Both in Westeros and North America, Cersei Lannister is the girl everyone loves to hate. Many underestimated her, others blackmailed her, and a few attempted to usurp the queen of mean. How did she respond in kind? With a vengeance unbecoming even to her lover/brother, King Slayer Jamie. The Season 6 finale destroyed the last ounce of Cersei’s humanity and proved that she nothing can stop her quest for the Iron Throne.
Quintessential Quote: “When you play the game of thrones you win or you die. There is no middle ground.” (Season 1, Episode 7)