According to Why We Love Sociopaths: A Guide To Late Capitalist Television (Zero Books), popular TV characters of recent years, from Mad Men’s Don Draper to South Park’s Eric Cartman to 24’s Jack Bauer, can be loosely defined as sociopathic. They follow their own pleasures, not letting social niceties such as rules of law (Bauer) or true identity (Draper) impede them. Author Adam Kotsko, an assistant professor of humanities at Shimer College in Chicago, theorizes that we envy the unrestrained daring of these characters who defy propriety.
Kotsko undermines the entertainment value of his project by offering yet another superficial analysis of “late capitalism,” positing a connection between the popularity of quasi-sociopathic TV characters and the financial crisis. He never considers that some readers may not be on board with his casual assessment of American society as failing, greedy, and pathetic. His lazy politicking detracts from otherwise amusing thoughts on the true meaning of Homer Simpson. —Lucy Steigerwald