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A Tale of a Few TV Shows

“Snowfall” “Abbott” “Elementary” among most others get selfishness all wrong

By Skyler SaundersPublished 10 months ago 3 min read
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A Tale of a Few TV Shows
Photo by Ajeet Mestry on Unsplash

The late front singer for Linkin Park, Chester Bennington once belted out, “In the end, it doesn’t even matter….” And that is what happens with the finale of the show Snowfall (2017-23). The kingpin, Franklin Saint (Damson Idris) is reduced to a bum’s status and is shown to be never brought to justice as he should’ve been. Some would say that his selfishness brought him to this lowly state. Most people cannot find in their minds the proper role of selfishness in an individual’s life in art.

In the current comedy series Abbott Elementary, the discussion of selfishness surfaces with the love triangle teachers Janine Teague (Quinta Brunson), Gregory Eddie (Tyler James Williams) and his friend Maurice (Vince Staples). The latter accuses her of being selfish for picking Eddie over him.

This continues in a thread that is like a taut string in the episode “Franklin Institute.” Janine questions and wonders to herself if she is selfish and delivers a poor report of what it means.

This is the essence of a culture in desperate need of a proper philosophy with an ethics of egoism. Ayn Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism provides that.

In Snowfall, a young, ambitious man with his eyes on the American Dream chooses to sell drugs instead of becoming an entrepreneur in legal pharmaceuticals. It is not selfish that he chose to keep going with the thought he should use his gifts as a businessman to become a murderer. Since drugs should be legalized, he should have realized that they weren’t at this period in the 1980’s. Maybe in the future, they will. But he was too focused on achieving large sums of cash and ultimately losing.

The tragedy of the series is not that he was selfish but unselfish. He never thought short range and definitely not long range. He destroyed other lives and his own because of the selfless sacrifice he engages in during the entire series.

In Abbott, Janine confronts Eddie and “admits” she’s selfish. This is so far from the truth. She is in fact selfish in the sense she is pursuing her own values to further her life without intentionally hurting anyone else.

She feels guilty and ashamed that she is so self-interested. As she explains to Eddie, she pours out her feelings and responds to him in a sulking fashion.

Both of these shows, Snowfall’s series finale “The Struggle” and the middle of the second season of Abbot show little to no clue in the way to demonstrate selfishness. They don’t make the cut when they portray characterization and theme plot and style. They ought to have shown that selfishness is the only ethical way of approaching interpersonal relationships. It’s like a drain of blood circling further down and down as the storytellers denigrate and degrade those who choose to be rationally self-interested.

That is the key word: rationally. Everyone is at least a little selfish. Not everyone can be completely unselfish or altruistic, otherwise they would be dead. And you can be completely selfish.

In the end, it does matter that our art displays selfishness and the ability to function as human beings of reason.

Snowfall ended with a whimper instead of another drug drama Breaking Bad (2008-13) which went out in a bang. It also tussled with the main character’s sense of self and his own destruction because of his selflessness. Abbott is still active in production. It is almost expected that the show will continue to explore ideas that will rail against the true meaning of selfishness.

In fact, mostly all of TV and movies and novels and other pieces of art will have the fallacy of bringing mixed or completely corrupt characters who haven’t a clue about moral ambitiousness.

If there is to be a revolution in ethics, it has to start with Rand. That will make every movie and episode focused on compelling characters who are all about the self.

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Skyler Saunders

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