Competence Porn
November 9, 2016 10:27 PM   Subscribe

I love Leverage and I want more competence porn, especially ones centering women of all sorts and men of color. Happy endings only! Bonus if the people involved don't get into major ethical violations at the beginning and ending of each season and then pretend like it doesn't matter, à la Bones and NCIS. Double bonus if it includes the open ended character development Leverage gives me.
posted by Deoridhe to Media & Arts (22 answers total) 50 users marked this as a favorite
 
An oldie but goodie is Ernst Lubitsch's heist/romantic comedy Trouble in Paradise.
posted by praemunire at 10:46 PM on November 9, 2016


Leverage's premise is similar to that of Hustle which is my favourite show. The team are more straight con artists though. There's no tough guy or cat burglar roles on the team.

Caveats:
It only has one woman on the team (Jaime Murray earlier, replaced by Kelly Adams when she leaves the show), and the main actor of colour Adrian Lester disappears to go do something else for a season, but on the plus side, when he's around he's the team leader.

Oh also, it's a British show and when they do American accents they are pretty uniformly TERRIBLE but that could be a plus for the unintentional hilarity?

The show is probably at its best before Lester's hiatus, so seasons 1 through 3.
posted by juv3nal at 11:17 PM on November 9, 2016 [4 favorites]


Leverage was the US remake of Hustle. Loved both but prefer Hustle - at least the first few seasons - it just didn't work as well without Adrian Lester's character as the leader of the team. Still enjoyable though.

Lie To Me is in the same vein and pretty awesome too. The lead is a white male (but it's Tim Roth, so I can forgive them for that) but there are strong female characters, although only one core team member of color (a woman). Mekhi Phifer has a long running guest role, but that's about it.

Mekhi Phifer makes me think about Torchwood ("Doctor Who" with sex. If you're not into scifi then ignore the main series, but the Miracle Day episodes (4th season) are pretty awesome and you may like it - well, except for the happy ending part.)

Crossing Borders was something I came across on Netflix - standard procedural but with actual European actors (rather than Americans pretending to be German / French / whatever) which was a novel idea. Female representation is good-ish, men of colour not so much. (So there is a diverse cast, as in they're not all white English speakers - but they're still mostly white. Like the OP (I think) I want to watch intelligent TV shows whose casts represent the society I live in. This tried, and succeeded in one way, but failed in another.). Character development was originally focused on William Fitchner's character but moved on after that - albeit in a pretty clunky way. Character development is not a highlight.

Not sure why I spent twice as much time talking about Crossing Borders than Lie To Me. Watch Lie To Me. Save Crossing Borders for when you have the flu and don't want to have to think.

How To Get Away With Murder is also worth watching - there are (as the title suggests) some rather big ethical violations involved, but they're handled thoughtfully.

(Thank you for posting - I will be watching this thread with interest for other ideas of things to watch!)
posted by finding.perdita at 1:10 AM on November 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


Crossing Borders is basically Criminal Minds: Europe, with bonus periodic injections of Donald Sutherland. I was a longtime CM fan so I liked it, especially because the Euro storylines meant lots of great atypical actors and locations. It wasn't the same old same old, visually or aurally- I liked all the accents. And not everyone is stereotypically Hollywood pretty.
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 4:35 AM on November 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


The Closer.
posted by Dolley at 5:49 AM on November 10, 2016 [4 favorites]


Crossing Borders (Crossing Lines?) begins like this - sexy sexy lady pulls on dress sexily in front of mirror, evaluates her sexy self in mirror and smiles, smash cut to her running and screaming through the woods in terror, she gets murdered. I didn't watch one second past that - I pile hate on any show that chooses to begin that way.

I don't tend to rewatch many shows but Leverage is one of my exceptions. It really is a perfect unicorn of TV shows. The other rewatch, oddly, has been Stargate SG:1. For me, it hits many of the same buttons - close knit team, competent at their jobs, good guys mostly win at the end of each episode.

Killjoys and Dark Matter on Syfy just finished their second season - women leaders, people of colors, team dynamics, found families, not always happy outcomes though. The shows aren't over so I can't promise a happy ending.

Eureka was a very sweet Syfy show with Salli Richardson-Whitfield and Joe Morton about mostly well-intentioned people bright people trying to do cool science things. Might be worth a a rewatch for me, come to think of it.

Maybe some shows from USA's happier past? Burn Notice, Psych, and Royal Pains all come to mind. Psych made some pretty pointed jokes about Dulé Hill being the only black lead on a cable network at the time.
posted by Squeak Attack at 6:29 AM on November 10, 2016 [4 favorites]


Miss Fisher Mysteries!
posted by Squeak Attack at 6:38 AM on November 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


The Librarians - same producer (John Rogers) as Leverage, Christian Kane in the cast, and lots of interesting open-ended character development. It is a world where magic exists (the 'magical items do things' is similar to Warehouse 13, which you might also want to peer at) but a lot of the strength of the show is the character interactions.

I also adore Miss Fisher.
posted by modernhypatia at 6:51 AM on November 10, 2016 [2 favorites]


OH yes- Miss Fisher!

Also NUMB3RS.
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 8:32 AM on November 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


Fiona in Burn Notice is a strong female character, but the others are male, white...
posted by at at 9:13 AM on November 10, 2016


I've been bingeing on Burn Notice recently. It's definitely heavy on the white males, but Fiona is so. kick. ass.

And definitely Miss Fisher, that woman is amazing.
posted by radioamy at 9:39 AM on November 10, 2016


I really enjoyed the Agent Carter TV show, and what impressed me the most about it is that nearly everyone in the show is radically competent and great at their jobs.
posted by helloimjennsco at 10:20 AM on November 10, 2016 [3 favorites]


Is everybody forgetting about Maddie on Burn Notice? And Coby Bell?
posted by sardonyx at 10:51 AM on November 10, 2016 [4 favorites]


I've watched nothing for the last week except Leverage and Murdoch Mysteries. Murdoch is a police constable in 1890s Toronto and he is like...Sherlock MacGyver. He invents the fax, night-vision goggles, the lie detector. He interacts with Tesla and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. His awesome coroner is a gorgeous and extremely competent woman and there's a fair amount of will-they-won't-they. The clothes are so pretty! Almost as pretty as Miss Fisher's!
posted by rtha at 11:19 AM on November 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


Another Leverage fan here who has missed it. Can someone explain how one (legally) can view Hustle in the states? I didn't see it on Netflix or Amazon Prime. Thanks.
posted by terrapin at 11:31 AM on November 10, 2016


There are a bunch of Hustle eps on the youtubes! (Link goes to S01E05, but see the sidebar for more.)
posted by rtha at 12:28 PM on November 10, 2016


I'd advise adblockers up and bailing on any sources that require a registration as the whole thing seems a bit sketchy, but I was able to find several episodes through this.
For instance, here's the first episode.
posted by juv3nal at 3:22 PM on November 10, 2016


Flashpoint! It follows a "strategic response" unit in Canada (basically SWAT only nicer). A bunch of white dudes, but there are also women and some POC characters throughout. There's not always a happy ending, but there usually is.

It's my go-to law enforcement competence porn show, because they don't engage in police brutality or flagrant ethical violations, and the show is just full of empathy and compassion for everyone, victims and suspects and law enforcement. Shooting people and (very rarely) killing them is treated with gravity and seriousness, and the focus is always on negotiation and communication. It has, honestly, ruined me for basically all other cop shows save Brooklyn Nine Nine. Flashpoint was on US Netflix last I checked.
posted by yasaman at 4:01 PM on November 10, 2016 [4 favorites]


I looked up Flashpoint out of curiosity and it's on Hulu and Amazon Prime, and has Enrico Colantoni (Veronica Mars's dad) so I added it to my watch list. :)
posted by Squeak Attack at 5:54 PM on November 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


With both Lie to Me and Flashpoint (and Leverage too I think), do look up the production order of the first seasons. The order on Netlfix/Amazon is usually broadcast and all of these were broadcast on US tv out of order for at least the first season.

Lie to Me has some especially weird dynamics if watched in broadcast order.

(Flashpoint, check Canadian DVD order of warching. I love that show so much and it needs to be watched in order!) (I may have said this before, but if I'm on a ledge I want Enrico Colantoni to talk me off of it. I would come down for him.)

I also second The Closer. Not enough love for this show.

And while there's no character development per se, the three seasons of Border Security (Canada, Australia, USA, all on Netflix) are surprisingly satisfying competence porn and are gloriously diverse. And I say this as a person who hates "reality" tv and most documentary tv as well.
posted by monopas at 2:38 AM on November 11, 2016 [1 favorite]


So these suggestions may be way off piste, but I have never watched anything in my life with every single character as scarily competent as in Nirvana in Fire (琅琊榜). If you're willing to watch a Chinese period drama with a Count of Monte Cristo-like plot, the 54-episode miniseries is officially available for free with English subtitles at places like YouTube or Viki. The original novel was written by a woman, who also adapted the screenplay. There are a lot of varied and competent women in this story, and as a bonus, everybody in it is a POC? I would be wary of your "happy ending" caveat, however. If you do decide to delve into this, note that it was aired in 2-episode pairs, so watch both episode 1 and episode 2 in one go. Also, don't watch the ending sequence, as it has spoilers. It is quite the exception in terms of Chinese period dramas for having exceptionally high production values, excellent (not gaudy) set and costume design, and top-notch acting that is surprisingly not melodramatic. My Swedish wife had never watched a Chinese series before, but loved Nirvana in Fire.

If you are up for something that is more modern, a series currently airing is When a Snail Falls in Love, about a Major Crimes Division in a mid-tier fictional Chinese city, and a series of crimes that might be linked to a prominent corporate family. Again, high production value, great acting, with a wide variety of female characters and an original novel written by a woman. It's also available with English subtitles on Viki.
posted by the_wintry_mizzenmast at 4:54 AM on November 12, 2016


The film Hopscotch is excellent spy-style competence porn. Predominantly white male cast, but it's so satisfying to watch Kendig casually outwit his former CIA colleagues, whistling all the while.
posted by sibilatorix at 10:01 AM on December 12, 2016 [1 favorite]


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