By Trey Alessio
I just finished the third episode of “The Young Pope,” and Lenny Belardo has to be one of the deepest, darkest, most complex, corrupt and manipulative TV characters I’ve ever seen. I don’t know if it’s the corrupt mafioso in me, but I just love a good puppet-master when it comes to TV, and this “Young Pope” got me thinking: “Who is the most corrupt, manipulative TV character out there?”
(This contains spoilers from each show)
Lenny Belardo - The Young Pope
First off, when this trailer initially came out, I was instantly intrigued. It’s duly noted that my family and I are Catholic, so when I showed my mom this trailer, she called it sac-religious. Well, I guess I’m a sinner because this show is amazing so far. So what does Lenny have going for him in this contest of corruption? Well, Pope Pius XIII is a leader of the Catholic Church who doesn’t believe in God. What?! Could you even imagine? But does his lack of faith really make him worthy enough of our beloved crown of corruption title? While Lenny has brought up his lack of faith twice in the first three episodes, he really hasn’t shown any true signs of corruption. Yes, his homily was very brash and assertive, but I think Lenny truly believes in his mysterious methods—not showing his face to the crowd or media. Only time will tell, but I don’t really believe Lenny is trying to take down the Catholic Church…yet. Honestly, Cardinal Voiello might be even more corrupt than Lenny. We won’t know for sure until this HBO limited series has ended, but for now, we’re just going to chalk Lenny Belardo a.k.a. Pope Pius XIII up to a glorified dick.
James "Ghost" St. Patrick - Power
Ghost is the swaggiest character on our list. By day, he’s a popular club owner, and by night, he’s a drug kingpin. This man has to be a master manipulator as he dates a high school sweetheart who happens to be a FBI agent while continuing his run as New York’s biggest drug dealer. Ghost has multiple internal plans to save himself and his business as he starts to feel the heat from law enforcement that are revealed throughout the show in the perfect of ways. For example, Ghost plots to get his partner Tommy pinched and keeps the faith that Tommy won’t rat on him in order to keep himself safe. When Tommy doesn’t rat, Ghost schemes a way to free Tommy—a master move. However, Ghost does not take home our crown of corruption simply because in the most recent season he drops his Ghost persona and attempts to go fully legit for his girlfriend.
Tony Soprano - The Soprano's
The true head of the modern-day New Jersey mob was one of the best puppet-masters in TV history. Tony always looked 10 steps ahead and plotted his every move with such precision. For example, Tony suggests that his mafia friends put their elderly family members in a certain nursing home in order to hide their dirty money and weapons. The nursing home also served as a safe spot for mob meetings without the threat of the Feds listening. It stems from Tony. He’s the leader and the most manipulative of the mobsters on “The Soprano’s.” The man even had his friend’s restaurant burnt down because of an unwanted hit. Tony avoided the unwanted hit and his friend Artie picked up the insurance money. The list of corrupt, manipulative schemes goes on and on, but he doesn’t take home our corruption crown—which kind of pains me because Tony Soprano is one of my favorite overall characters of all-time.
Frank Underwood - House of Cards
Drum roll… This leaves the one and only President Frank Underwood. Francis is our winner because every move he makes his diabolical; every move he makes is a behind-the-scenes scheme to further his role. He starts as the whip and plots his way to the Oval Office. The man has the first season’s president Garrett Walker impeached. He pushes his fling-of-a-girlfriend/reporter Zoey Barnes in front of a train. Could you imagine? A president who has a body count? Frank Underwood is the ultimate master manipulator. I think the best part about Frank Underwood and “House of Cards” is the fact that it has made me believe a lot of this corruption really goes on in real-life politics. (See tweet below from the most reliable source EVER.) I hope we never see the fall of Frank Underwood. The new season of “House of Cards” comes out on May 30.
Do you agree with our list? Did we crown the right character? Let us know!