Steven Seagal: Lawman

Anyone that knows me knows that I can get pretty evangelical about certain TV shows.I will preach the gospels of The Wire and Mad Men, quote endlessly from The Thick Of It and praise the genius that is Nathan Barley. However, last night, a new show entered the pantheon: Steven Seagal: Lawman.

Let's ignore the fact that Seagal's claims to have been a cop for twenty years is, apparently, a pile of bollocks, and the fact that the show is indefinitely suspended after the sexual assault and trafficking suits were filed against him. We can forgive all that because of what he has given us in this show:

Fuck, yeah, Steve! Show those boys how to stage fight! Now, let's take a look at him on the shooting range...

Look, you get the idea: Seagal goes around with his squad constantly fawning over him, busting criminals and doling out increasingly patronising advice to his men and others in between, while the talking heads constantly remind you that Seagal is a movie star. The man himself is as pompous and as up his own arse as you'd expect, but I'll be damned if it isn't extremely entertaining for its sheer awfulness.

The scene in episode two where he visits a children's hospital and explains that he has to wear dark glasses to hide his true emotions from the kids and staff is just so jaw-droppingly patronising, but then, as if these poor fucking kids weren't suffering enough, he organises a benefit concert to raise funds for the hospital! Couldn't you have just done the right thing, Steve, and donated your own money so we didn't have to listen to you "sing"? And, of course, he invites his cop buddies who subsequently fawn over him and proclaim him the greatest musician since Mozart.

All that said, the show knows its audience and plays to them perfectly - it's audience being hardcore Seagal fans who think the guy walks on water, and the right wing, white middle classes of America. It's the latter that the show probably plays best to, though; every criminal they bust is a black guy, usually with drugs, whose voices they subtitle because it's hard to understand them non-white types. Every member of Seagal's squad is an overweight white guy, except for the token black guy (who's also overweight), who seems to fall over himself to praise Seagal at every moment, as if he was some kind of white god.

It is, without doubt, a very, very terrible show, but I'm damned if I'm not going to be tuning in again next week to see how much worse it can get.


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