So begins molly young, writing for moreintelligentlife.com about Showtime's television show Dexter, a sympathetic portrayal of a sociopath/pseudo-vigilante. The portrayal of Dexter is so sympathetic, in fact, that Young thinks that he is a little too good to be sociopath true:
Dexter makes for a fine host and protagonist: he’s charming and intelligent, with the striking good looks of a handsomely-built monkey. In voiceover narration, he attempts to explain his murderous actions to the viewer, insisting that he is an empty shell of a person. "I love Halloween,” he indulges. “The one time of year when everyone wears a mask, not just me.” The voiceover device allows Dexter to explain his bloody motivations with illuminating introspection. The sociopath, it turns out, is humble and has regrets. He is self-searching and self-questioning. He is, in other words, a really unconvincing sociopath.In typical empath fashion, she continues by suggesting that Dexter is really just a caricature of Joe Anybody:
Here’s the thing: as viewers, we have to believe that Dexter is an aberration––a man totally unlike us––in order to accept his dubious activities. And yet the very qualities that would designate him a sociopath would surely alienate him as a protagonist. The solution? A character who acts in thoroughly lovable ways while telling us that it’s all pretence. If Humbert Humbert's narration was all about providing a beguiling justification of his misdeeds, Dexter's is about convincing us that he’s bad and empty inside, despite evidence that he's really a mensch.
Plus, we want to like Dexter. He’s a caricature of how most of us feel ourselves to be: outsiders some of the time, morally correct most of the time, doing the best we can with the cards we were dealt. Dexter explains that he fakes his likeability in the voiceovers, but the explanations themselves––with their introspection and self-deprecating tone –– don't jibe with the hollow killer he claims to be.This is some interesting faulty reasoning -- this man can't be a sociopath because I love him. And yet there are literally millions of people who love sociopaths. Sociopaths are in a lot of ways very easy to love, at least at first. What Young is demonstrating in her article is the folly of many an individual ensnared in the sociopath's charms -- he can't possibly be a sociopath, can he? He can and he is. In this way, Dexter is one of the most accurate, un-caricatured media portrayals of a sociopath.