Why Do We Love Watching Narcissists On TV?

Marlena Bontas
3 min readJun 15, 2022

Some TV shows with narcissists might remind us of familiar figures in our past and the interactions we had with them.

Michael Imperioli, Steven Van Zandt and James Gandolfini in ‘The Sopranos.’
Michael Imperioli, Steven Van Zandt and James Gandolfini in ‘The Sopranos.’

I am guilty of watching too many TV shows where the main character (or perhaps the secondary character) is a narcissist. I’ve started re-watching The Sopranos a show where the lead is a sociopathic North Jersey Mob leader with a touch of charisma and charm.

It is clear to me that my attraction to this show is based on my own beliefs and past experiences.

Before The Sopranos, I was watching You, a tv series where the main character is a sociopath. I couldn’t finish watching it but I do appreciate the effort that was put into creating a Cluster B personality that takes the central stage in a sitcom.

Recently, I got deeply involved in Amber Heard’s defamation trial.

When I realized that the entire trial is televised (which is not normal), I thought that something must be wrong with the person who ordered the trial to be public.

Heard’s and Depp’s marriage is a very personal matter and whatever happened between them should not be used as a source of entertainment by others. Unfortunately, the damage has been done and as we speak, blogs, magazines and news corporations, are profiting from the pain and suffering of these two.

But, despite my repulsive reaction to the trial, I kept watching. Why?

The topic of narcissism is familiar to me. My family is made of narcissists who would never miss the chance of garnering attention from their loved ones. Even if that attention is negative.

Thus, I have concluded that perhaps I and others like me enjoy watching narcissistic people on TV because narcissism comes too close to home.

It might remind us of people we have yet to go no contact with. Of people who disappointed us and betrayed our trust repeatedly.

Or of people who are no longer in our lives.

Maybe, watching these sitcoms helps us understand our parents, caretakers or ex-partners better. Understanding a topic that caused so much harm to us is perhaps better than feeling the extreme pain of abandonment from them.

It is much easier to think about the abuse than to feel its emotional effects.

I don’t know when I’ll stop watching these shows but one thing I am sure of: Cluster-Bs are the most complex and multi-faceted people in the world and it takes a team of psychiatrists to understand their behaviour. (Think about the fact that a good number of trained psychotherapists have no understanding of NPD)

If TV shows use narcissists to spice up their stories, perhaps we can take it as a good sign. These shows can educate us about Cluster B personalities so that, when we’ll bump into them later in life (and we will), we’ll not be shocked by their actions. And perhaps, we’ll be able to disengage from them quickly.

What TV shows with narcissists are you currently watching?

Leave a comment below.

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Marlena Bontas

Content writer, tea drinker, English-Romanian girl living abroad. Writes about NPD, relationships, health, finances and business.