Evil Corporations on TV
As globalization makes it difficult for TV to turn allies into villains, we turn to corporate America for evil help.
Perhaps Occupy Wall Street and the movement's concern for corporate greed should not have been summarily dismissed. There is evil lurking in the boardrooms of television series and their shows' fictional characters. Many of these corporations are based in reality. With the Cold War a distant memory and a country hard-pressed to let the silent enemy of terrorism become a character on a hit TV show, producers and show-runners have turned their eyes on fictional oligarchs of corporate America. From Mr. Robot's E Corp, and yes, the E actually stands for Evil, to Calista Flockhart's Catco Worldwide Media, based firmly on The Huffington Post, corporate characters have become an integral part of contemporary TV.
If Christian Slater's Elliot is to be believed then there’s no worse company than E Corp, which he refers to as Evil Corp. As one of the largest multinational conglomerates in the world, Evil Corp controls the manufacture of computers, phones, tablets, and maintains a banking and credit card division that owns over 70% of the global consumer credit in the world. It’s no wonder why Elliot wants to take Evil Corp down to free Americans from their ever increasing debt. It’s almost like the ending of Fight Club, except the audience never really knows if Elliot is actually right about Evil Corp or if it’s all just an illusion thanks to his deeply seeded issues of mental psychosis.
Run by Cara Grant, Catco is the media conglomerate in the universe of Calista Flockhart's Supergirl, directly competing against the Daily Planet. Catco is kind of like the evil love child of Gawker and The Huffington Post. Poor Supergirl is forced to work there as her day job while maintaining her secret identity as beleaguered twenty-something personal assistant. Worst yet, unlike her cousin Clark, who’s a respected reporter at the Daily Planet, poor Kara Danvers is an abused executive assistant forced to be at the mercy of her bitchy boss. Any company that can force the mighty invincible Supergirl to go get coffee at Starbucks is well deserving of making this list.
Empire Entertainment is the ultimate music conglomerate on Fox’s Empire. Primarily a multiplatinum recording label studio, Empire also has it’s own fashion line, high-end liquor brand, sports management, print publishing, and line of electronic games. Empire might not seem evil, but since it’s run by Lucious Lyon, a former drug dealer who built his empire through murder and extortion, and is willing to use just about any underhanded tactic to maintain control of his Empire. It’s no wonder he found himself in jail at the start of Season 2 for murder. Empire might not necessarily be evil, but as long as it’s under the control of the vicious Lucious Lyon, then it’ll maintain it’s place as one of the most evil companies ever to appear on TV.
Run by The Simpson's eccentric billionaire Charles Montgomery Burns, the Springfield power plant is easily one of the most negligent organizations ever seen in film and TV. A surprise inspection found 342 violations, including luminous rats in the basement, pipes leaking radioactive waste, disposal of nuclear waste in a children’s playground, and a rod of plutonium used as a paperweight. It would easily cost $56 million to bring it up to safety regulations, but Mr. Burns refused to pay that, despite easily being able to afford the cost. It doesn’t help that he has Homer as his safety inspector. Burns is more evil then the company itself, but his indifference towards the safety of his employees and the residents of Springfield for nearly 25 years of the Simpsons run time nets him a place on this list.Hooli embodies all of the worst aspects of real life Silicon Valley. The self-righteous sanctimonious attitude that’s complemented by ruthless business practices. In the world of HBO’s Silicon Valley, there’s no company as big or as insufferable as Hooli. Just imagine the worst parts of Google and Facebook mashed together and you got Hooli. Not content to just own everything they also love to steal and reverse other people’s original work to claim for their own. Just like everyone’s favorite real-life Silicon Valley pirates Steve Jobs and Bill Gates. Good thing we’ve got the Silicon Valley gang with their pied piper software to stick it to the man and take them down a peg.
Arrow's Palmer Technologies took over Queen Enterprises. Thankfully, Oliver Queen was able to keep his stock to fund his vigilante affairs, but let’s be honest, Arrow flat-out murders people. Sure, most of them may be criminals, but Queen Enterprises and Palmer Tech are essentially responsible for creating gadgets and weapons for illegal vigilantes to go about murdering whomever they please. Those thugs have families and children, and maybe if Ray Palmer or Oliver Queen used their vast wealth to address the social and economic issues of inequality in Starling City then there wouldn’t be a need for a vigilante like Arrow. But no, instead these companies help contribute to murdering people with advanced technology and lots of high-tech arrows. It’s no wonder why even the best intentions can have the worst consequences whenever Queen Enterprises and Palmer Tech get involved.
The crisis management and communications firm of Scandal consists of the self-proclaimed gladiators in suits ready to manage any image or PR crisis. They are warriors at handling damage control for the worst excess of our esteemed politicians. In many ways they are enablers, helping people within the political system not own up to their own terrible behavior. They are willing to go to any extreme including legal and physical intimidation to get what they want. If you get caught with a dead hooker before going to attend congress then Olivia Pope & Associates are the PR warriors you want to call, but if you find yourselves against them then you’d be prepared to hide yourself in a hole, less you face the wrath of Pope and her gladiators hardened by years of experience working in the trenches of Washington DC.
The management consultant firm run by Marty Kaan in House of Lies is a manipulative immoral, and will do just about any dastardly deed possible to close a deal. Kaan & Associates will lie, cheat, steal, in order to manipulate their way to profits. They will say and do everything with no consideration about any potential repercussions. Their company motto is “we’re stealing your watch to tell you the time.” The only thing remotely redeeming about Kaan & Associates is that at least they're managing to prey upon the 1%. It’s kind of like watching a bear get devoured by a shark. Both of them will kill you if they get the chance, but at least the shark is keeping the bear from mauling you at sea. Doing any kind of business with Kaan & Associates will only leave your conscience and wallet worse for ware.
One of the biggest ad agencies in Mad Men, if there’s one company you could blame as being the forefathers of manipulative advertisements, it’s Sterling Cooper. These are the kings of manipulating emotions in order to trick the ignorant masses into buying products they don’t need. Not to mention the numerous tobacco accounts they had despite the fact they knew how highly addictive cigarettes were and their detrimental effects on health and safety. The Mad Men of Sterling Cooper don’t care what they’re selling as long as the money is good they’ll peddle just about anything. Sometimes being evil isn’t the worst thing in the world. What’s far more terrifying is an amoral company that doesn’t care who or what they work for. If the money’s good you know Sterling Cooper would have no problems taking the Nazi account to try and rebrand Hitler and find a way to sell him to America.
The Strain's Stoneheart brings new meaning to term bloodsuckers. Run by Eldritch Palmer, the Stoneheart group is deeply entwined in working with the evil Master and his strain of vampires as they slowly take over New York City and prepare for their larger plans of dominating the rest of the world. Eldritch believes if he can aid The Master then he might share with him the gift of immortality. To achieve this Eldritch has put his considerable fortune and resources to handing over mankind on silver platter to The Master and his kind. As evil as some of the other corporations are on this list only one is actually proactively working to build slaughterhouses to treat humans like cattle and process them for the sake of feeding our new vampire overlords.