Thursday, September 20, 2012

Taxmen (a much awaited Accounting Drama)

There's no legal show out there that hasn't gone through real life cases & dramatized them for television. Also there are crime scene investigation drama shows which have so far shown, in vivid detail, how to kill a human being. Sometimes I wonder how many more ways a person can die & how many unique murder weapons would be used? I have also watched an amazing medical drama & throughout its 8 season run time, all I could care to understand about medicine is that Lupus is a very common diagnosis, Auto-immune diseases are like the wild cards of medical cases & projectile vomit is simply awesome, without knowing absolutely anything about what Lupus & auto-immune diseases are. But one thing I am yet to watch, solved in meticulous detail with all the grit, drama & excitement of reaching to the conclusion is doing a tax audit.

I have searched the length and breadth of the internet & I must have definitely left a few spots, since I still haven't found a dramatization of accountants in a multi season TV show. They do get side jobs in legal dramas but there isn't one show which shows the glitz and glamour of going through some person's or a corporation's books. Especially when they are wonderfully cooked. OK, I can take back the glamour, but there is definitely some glitz-ish stuff. It is so surprising to find a lack of media interest in the profession of accounting especially when some of the most important plots in films have hinged upon accountants.

A few that I care to remember, 

Ben Kingsley in Schindler's List
Will Ferrel's exceptional performance as an IRS auditor in Stranger than fiction
The accountant in Untouchables, he has all the evidence (no accountant, no Capone)
The chubby guy from the film Hitch

Ok, I thought I had an exhaustive memory of accountants in the media, but it seems it has exhausted.

So all these films gave accountants their share of screen time, but what I really really long for is to watch the clacking of calculators & digging out evidence, missing expense receipts, backtracking tax frauds, some exciting time in tax havens, back room dealings with bankers & tracing secret accounts of the super rich. I may have gotten a bit carried away there, but somehow the excitement of solving the number puzzle would make an excellent series on accountants.

I do have some baseless assumptions on why there may not have been any attempt at making a series / film on accountants:

- It is too complicated to show on primetime TV
(duh! so is law, medicine & crime investigation)

- Accountants are dull people 
(well I have a few accountant friends & they know their way out of their numbers. Certainly not dull)

- There can't be much drama in an accounting firm 
(wherever the average age of the staff in a firm is less than 40 you can be assured to have a lot of competition, rivalry, sexual tension, forced hierarchy & finally cut throat colleagues - I thought this is what the legal shows were based on. Also I have nothing against people over 40 doing all those things, but my experience is pretty slim in being over 40 to realize what they would do)

- It is difficult to show people endlessly working on their calculators & make it look exciting 
(well if a show like Numbers can crunch advanced math on TV, accounting is just plain adding & subtracting)

- Finally, accounting shows will give people ideas on how to evade tax & commit financial fraud 
(this is the closest, I think, I have come to making a legitimate case for not having an accounting TV show. But then I remembered watching all those meticulously executed murders in CSI or Dexter & that made me feel better since I haven't had even the faintest urge to plan such an execution. So far ;) )

- There can't be a protagonist
(that may be true, since everyone I know hates the taxman & auditors sometimes have the nasty habit of uncovering a number trail which was cautiously buried causing a lot of inconvenience to a lot of seriously rich people. The taxman always seems to be a metaphorical antichrist)

So this sure does call for a really gritty accounting drama, I don't mind writing the pilot episode for this one at all. :)

But like all great Eureka moments, as soon as I started to bask in the glory of my powers of observation I came across these three unsuspecting links (thisthis & this). These are 3 blog posts that basically say the exact same thing that I have been yapping about here, but in a much better way than I have. One of them also happens to be written by an accountant who has figured out the first scene for the pilot episode. There goes my pilot dream. 

So much for drama. CLICK

(In case you are wondering what the click was at the end of that sentence, it was the melancholy sound of pressing the OFF button on my calculator. If you listen very closely, you might actually hear it.)


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Medisoft said...

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