As I suffered through the Bobcats’ ill-fated invasion of the crumbling Boston Celtics empire on Wednesday, I was reminded of why I love the Showtime drama Dexter so much. Dexter’s plot had an extremely shaky starting point (a story about an affable serial killer named Dexter) that has only grown increasingly ridiculous with each new season. In this way it’s just like the Bobcats. And just as I do with the Bobcats, I ignore all of Dexter’s flaws and will continue to be a fan no matter what comically implausible conclusion it eventually comes to. But I could say that about lots of shows on TV. Dexter’s great ability, at least for me, is that it gets me to not just like Dexter but to actually cheer for him. And if there’s one thing I know I can count on with Dexter, it’s this: he always—always—wins.
This is obviously in sharp contrast to the Bobcats, and I’m convinced it’s what keeps me coming back for more. It’s extremely enjoyable to root for someone or something that always wins. Sure, Dexter’s definition of “winning” varies slightly from the standard sports definition of “winning.” In sports, “winning” typically means “scoring more points than your opponent”; for Dexter it means “capturing a murderer, strapping him to a table in your ‘kill room,’ laconically itemizing his crimes so that he is fully aware of why he is there (and having 100% incontrovertible truth every time), slicing off part of his cheek so that you can store his blood as a trophy behind your air conditioner, stabbing him with a machete, mutilating his body parts, wrapping them in trash bags, dumping them into the Gulf of Mexico from the boat that you can inexplicably afford with your police lab technician salary, repeating this process at least once a week, and always avoiding suspicion from your police colleagues despite the fact that your mother was murdered by a serial killer, your sister was engaged to a serial killer (who turned out to be your brother, whom you then murdered), your wife was murdered by a serial killer, and the one cop who DID suspect you of murder died in a ‘mysterious’ explosion.” Rooting for Dexter is like rooting for the Yankees is like rooting for US Steel.