Alfred Hitchcock’s masterpiece moves between different heroes and heroines while Norman Bates, the murderer with the mommy-issues, mainly serves as the outside threat. However, after the famous shower murder scene, the movie pauses and gives Norman, of all characters, a moment of pure empathy. In a long, quiet scene, he cleans the shower of the blood, and we meditatively watch him as he washes away the horrors we have all just witnessed.
It’s a deep and beautiful scene, and for a fleeting moment it unites us and the psycho killer through complete identification, silent and clean like the shiny shower tiles.
The ultimate show that takes us into the mind of a psycho killer. Our journey through Dexter’s psyche is simple and direct, his voice follows us in a nonstop dialogue through the show – it’s its main goal and greatest achievement. The identification starts already in the fantastic intro, that turns a regular morning routine to a bloody celebration of concealed violence. The theme of Dexter being a 'good' serial killer is problematic, but it helps to ‘market’ him to the viewers.
And so the show has to delve into some unconvincing psychological explanations about his becoming a psychopath, but despite this, it succeeds in its mission and makes us understand, identify with, and – against all odds – even love Dexter.
9. Taxi Driver
On the surface, this movie seems to be about a lonely person who takes law into his own hands. But, as the movie progresses, we realize that Travis Bickle is not just a well-meaning weirdo with a violent streak, but an obsessive psychopath, who luckily chooses a relatively ‘appropriate’ victim (a pimp). The movie ends with Bickle being hailed as a folk hero, with which the film's mission is complete: We dive so deep into the mind of a violent psychopath that we come to fully identify with him – and justify his violent acts.
One can argue whether Bickle is indeed a psychopath, or just a madman who happens to kill people from time to time, but this differentiation is a good example for the blurred lines that lie in the bottom of the movie.
10. The Sopranos
If Dexter begins with the protagonist declaring himself as a psychopath, and then we get to know his complex, real personality, The Sopranos does the opposite: at the beginning of the show, Tony Soprano introduces himself as a soft-hearted mafioso, who sometimes suffers from panic attacks because of his ‘work’. Like Dr. Melfi, we fall in love with him and his charm.
But by the end of the show, Melfi realizes that their therapy was an act, and that Tony played her – and us – the whole time; and that he doesn’t really care about anyone else in the whole world, a world in which others are just pawns on his chess board.