Aaron Sorkin’s phenomenal directorial debut and Jessica Chastain’s enigmatic performance perfectly showcases both the tragedy and empowerment displayed by Molly’s character. Her explanation of the events that led to her rise and fall, told through the purpose of an FBI investigation, gives us an intriguing look into the exclusive world of high-stakes poker, where only the Crème de la Crème of celebrities, artists, and business tycoons are welcome. Molly is seen as being a mostly moral character, which only makes the message more clear. Power can consume even the best among us.
The Wolf of Wall Street
Famous for its glorification of the corrupt and morally black lifestyle of the wealthy, The Wolf of Wall Street enticed viewers by giving a rich portrayal of the high life. Power hungry Jordan Belfort, based on the real life criminal, performs countless acts of greed, showcasing a world of hedonism that most only daydream about. Scorsese’s portrayal of opulence and excess has long been talked about as a dream of sorts, even with the consequences they lead to. Drug-fueled binges and cheating spouses are not seen as repercussions, but as amusing anecdotes of the truly free man. The story itself is a magnetic trainwreck, a can’t-look-away fall from glory, but audiences still look up to these powerhouse characters as the ultimate fantasy of power and ambition.
House of Cards
House of Cards has become one of the most exemplary critiques of modern U.S. politics, a classic tale of corruption and governmental greed with the added drama of a revenge story. The main character and antihero, Francis Underwood, climbs the ranks of the white house with the help of his equally morally grey wife in order to overthrow his enemies at the top. Both characters are brilliantly dastardly in their attempts at revenge, scheming with such cleverness that it feels as though one is watching a master strategist work his way to checkmate. The tension grows as the show goes on, showcasing a power struggle that is at once so subtle and manipulative that sometimes you may have to watch an episode twice to understand just how sharp it was.
Succession is a starkly amusing satirical illustration of a money-hungry family doing whatever it takes to hold on to their piece of the capitalist pie. With characters so selfishly predatorial that it becomes almost tragic, this show gives audiences all that it could want out of a semi-soapy cesspool of human greed. The plot follows a family that has spent their entire lives with a golden spoon hanging from their mouths, surrounded by wealth garnered by a family owned media conglomerate. The father decides to step down in his role as leader of the company, thus beginning the cut throat competition of who will take his place. This chaotic clambering makes the show into a darkly comedic drama that will make audiences appreciate their own regular lives.
The Iron Lady
Meryl Streep’s brilliant performance illuminates the personal history of Margeret Thatcher within the political context of 1970’s and 1980’s Britain. While Streep’s execution was met with rave reviews, the film itself has been critically confused, with many viewers desiring more focus on Thatcher’s politics and less on her marital and personal problems. The male characters in the film are self-satisfied and ignorant when it comes to policy, and the success of a woman evidently causes some amount of ego distress for most of them. It’s clear that the driving force behind the biopic was the creators wish to show what happens behind closed doors when anyone, and especially a woman, rises to power.
Billions is an almost portrait of the monstrous cut-throat world of billionaires and their misconduct. Featuring characters that could be described as carnivorous in their relentless journey to the top, Billions feels like a real, unguarded peek into what it takes to achieve true power. What sets the show apart from others like it is the creators honesty regarding the immorality of the antiheroes that act as both the protagonists and villains. There is little sympathy to be found here, and little is asked for, even by the characters themselves. This is a show that blatantly exposes the manipulative and devilish fantasy of wealth to those who have not achieved it.
Crown The British royal family has long been a source of curiosity and speculation, undoubtedly because their status has given them the rare opportunity of untouchable secrecy. In The Crown, this privacy is stripped away in favor of a tell-all on the personal turmoil and dramas that the royal family has faced since the 1940’s. The show itself seems conflicted on the morality of the power that the monarchy holds, jumping between sympathy for the characters lack of freedom and criticism of their unending pride and privilege. We often see members of the family in moments of humility, desperate to unchain themselves from the life that was decided for them. As far as portrayals of power go, this is one that mostly hinges on the recognition of humanity in even the most out of touch of our society…
This lavish period drama reveals the lives of 1920’s gangsters with the impeccable attention to detail necessary to form a complex and fascinating mob story. Scorcese paints his character’s with both charm and an underlying seediness—all the makings of a great mob boss. Set at the beginning of the prohibition, the tale follows the mafia ringleaders in charge of running the illegal liquor trade, giving fun nods to real life gangsters and events throughout. It’s a fantastically comprehensive exhibition of both the glitzy, rich 1920’s lifestyle and its sleazy criminal underbelly.