Competence Porn

I’ve always been drawn to people (fictional and real) who “get the job done” as  Saul Goodman was described in a recent “Talking Bad” interview (“He is good at what he does. That’s why people like Saul… People in America are looking for somebody who can do their job.”). So it’s not just super smart people (Will Hunting, Alan Turing, John Nash, Sherlock, Sheldon Cooper)  but people who work hard, know what they are doing, and get results. Book smarts v. street smarts. Innate genius v. struggled-and-achieved expertise. Whatever the profession, sushi chef, survivor man, fixer, (Winston Wolfe Zindabad!) I dig it.

the-wolf-i-solve-problems

It’s also the folks who appear not to be able to cope with every day trials and tribulations but if you just give them a chance, put them in their element, they shine. Shy but vocally brilliant Little Voice. Shy but culinarily skilled Big Night. Extrovert but not as dumb as she seems Legally Blonde and My Cousin Vinny.

Especially delicious is when someone has to fake being incompetent – even though they really are intelligent – just to get the job done. The Scarlet PimpernelHis at Night. The Raider (who not only had to play the buffoon but also had to pretend to be obese). Mr. Impossible.

That said, I also love it when someone seemingly “dumb” one-ups the “smart” one. When Dee Dee or Penny wins a contest over Dexter or Sheldon.  When anyone (including super competent in her own field Joan) has to look to Peggy Olson to close the deal. When the Companion solves a problem that The Doctor cannot. The entire premise of Love is a Fallacy (one of my favorite stories from high school).

Who is your favorite competent hero?

 

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