10 Reasons to Watch Leverage

Compared to other TV shows, Leverage is a really great gemstone obscured by all-too-mainstream  diamonds. There are plenty of TV dramas focused around crime with a team dynamic, but most of those are procedural crime-solvers. And very rare is it that you get a show where every member of the team is treated equally.

But Leverage, and all five of its lovely seasons, has just that, along with a slew of crime-committing. So what’s the story? Former insurance investigator Nathan Ford is asked to lead a group of expert criminals so they can steal back important documents for a powerful client. A one-time only event becomes not only the start of a team, but a family.

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Let’s go steal some reasons to watch Leverage.

1) The Writing

If you dig TNT’s The Librarians, you’ll probably like Leverage. John Rogers and Dean Devlin are the creative minds behind both, accompanied by a majority of the same writers. What I love is that all the characters are fleshed-out and flawed. Parker’s a great thief but emotionally detached after a life of getting by on her own. Hardison wants to run his own crew one day but he lacks subtlety when it comes to planning. Sophie’s the best actress on the planet, but only when she’s breaking the law. She’s spent so much of her life pretending to be other people that she takes time off from the team to rediscover herself. Eliot’s the resident Hitter, who actually tries to avoid violence when he can. He finds guns loathsome and seems like a ladies’ man when, in actuality, he chose  duty over love and refuses to get too close to anyone again. And Nate….oh, Nate. Nate is so gloriously messed up – torn between being a White Knight or Black King on the chessboard of life.

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Best of all, the male and female characters are treated equally. All five leads appeared in the same amount of episodes. Although Parker arguably has the greatest character development, all of them change as a result of the family-team they form. Even though Nate is the Mastermind, he’s not superior to his teammates, nor is he incapable of making mistakes. And if you had to label one a “Damsel”-in-Distress, there’s no question it’s Hardison.

My favorite aspect of Leverage‘s writing is that they KNOW the importance of “less is more.” As fans, we think we want to learn every detail about a character, but the writers know better.

“If we told you [everyone’s timeline] you wouldn’t be able to then have enough flexibility to fold that timeline in with Supernatural in your fanfics, because there’d be no space for that. The space we leave is the space for you to write your slash. And that’s super important for us to do. We do that for you people. The fans appreciate the empty space we leave so that you can write your Buffy/Supernatural/NCIS/Criminal Minds/Leverage crossovers.” – Leverage10 Podcast

2) Age of the Geek, baby

You could argue each member of the Leverage team is a geek in some way: Sophie’s got a passion for theatre, Eliot for cooking, and Nate seems to know a little bit about everything. But the true geek of the bunch is Alec Hardison, played by Aldis Hodge. Hardison’s a prodigy at technological hacking: as a teenager he got the Bank of Iceland to pay his nana’s medical bills (d’aww!) and it is through his modified earbuds that the team communicates during jobs. He loves Star Wars, Star Trek, and slept through a con once because he was up late playing the latest World of Warcraft expansion.

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Judging Parker for liking CGI Yoda

Like Hardison, creators Devlin and Rogers are nerdy as hell. There’s a ton of Doctor Who nods across all five seasons, although one of the earliest was Nate and Sophie using the aliases Tom Baker and Sarah Jane during a con. There was a cutaway scene planned for season two that would have implied Eliot worked in the Stargate program. If you look closely in the episode “The Last Dam Job,” there’s a vault with tiles from the original Stargate film that are actually owned by Dean Devlin.

3) Relationships =/= drama

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Lots of shows make bank on the Will-They-Or-Won’t-They trope. When they finally take the plunge into They-Do, many fans lose interest or at the very least agree the show is no longer the same. Leverage was still Leverage even after two couples formed within the team. Any other show would’ve tried to capitalize on relationship drama  by having their feelings interfere with work. Leverage never took that route: the jobs were always the primary focus, but you were never left feeling like the relationship was being sacrificed in favor of plot. You were given just enough of each to keep you satisfied and wanting the next episode.

4) The fandom

Fandoms are double-edged swords. They can be awesome, inclusive communities and then, at a moment’s notice, they turn into cesspools of ship hate and contentious fan opinion. Despite the fact it’s been two years since the finale, the Leverage tag on tumblr is still active and hate-free. This is the only fandom I’m in where I’ve never seen ship wars, and where we all accept that the series finale pretty much canonized a bi-racial polyamorous relationship.

The writers also developed a really great relationship with their fans. John Rogers answered questions on his blog about episodes after they aired (something he’s started to do again with Librarians), and when the series was cancelled, there was an outpouring of grief online. But the fandom came together and worked to get Leverage nominated for a Best Cable TV Drama: AND THEY SUCCEEDED. Leverage made history as the first cancelled program to win a People’s Choice Award!

5) Mark Sheppard (and other awesome Guest Stars)

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What’d you expect? The man is in everything! Seriously though, Mark Sheppard is a key character in the Leverage universe as James Sterling, an insurance investigator who’s the mirror of Nate. Whereas Nate cares about people being victimized, Sterling’s motivation is money and success. He makes a glorious antagonist (NOT villain) to the team, but he’s not the only famous face you’ll find!  Wil Wheaton had a recurring guest role as Colin ‘Chaos’ Mason, a manipulative hacker; Danny Glover played a WWII veteran who knew the fate of a lost Van Gogh painting the team was asked to retrieve; Richard Chamberlain played Archie; Parker’s mentor and father-figure who “honed her into a perfect thief” but failed her as a parent; and Jeri Ryan, known to Voyager fans as Seven of Nine, joined the team for a brief time as grifter Tara Cole.

6) THAT ACTING

Although Timothy Hutton (Nate) has prestigiously-recognized acting chops, some of the series’ best dramatic moments shone the spotlight on his equally talented co-stars. You’ve got subtle moments like in “The Big Bang Job,” when the targeted criminal dredges up unpleasant memories from Eliot’s past. Or the heavy-hitting “The Grave Danger Job,” where Hardison gets buried alive and it’s Parker who helps him through it. It’s emotionally taxing, not just because Hardison will die if they fail, but because it also forces Parker to evaluate the magnitude of her feelings for him.

7) Competence Porn

This is a term specific to the Leverage fandom. While other fans revel in David Tennant hand porn or BAMF beatdowns on Agents of SHIELD, Leverage lovers get their jollies by watching the team do their jobs. Do I sound insane? Probably.

John Rogers coined the term to describe the scenes the audience loves because the team is doing what they’re best at. The closest example I could offer is watching Sherlock Holmes make deductions, but it’s really something you need to experience. So I offer you, “The Rundown Job.” I recommend watching until the 1:35 mark.

8) Representation

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Please put aside any quibbles about “THE TEAM IS MOSTLY WHITE PEOPLE” right now, thank you. Representation isn’t just about the ethnicity of the leads (although I’m by no means dismissing its importance). Hardison being black is never glossed over. In fact, he admits that he tends to “get by” grifting by playing up Black Stereotypes. The one time his ethnicity becomes a plot point, it’s only because his relationship with Parker is being juxtaposed with the story of a black man and white woman in the 1940s.

Hardison, like Parker, was also a foster kid. Though never seen, all the references to Hardison’s “Nana” indicate he was placed in a good, loving home. Parker, however, bounced around so frequently she never made friends her own age and had a foster father who taunted her by taking away her toys. Despite coming from opposite foster situations, they BOTH turned to lives of crime. So there’s none of that ‘bad circumstances make bad people’ nonsense.

Plus, one of my favorite supporting characters is Cheryl from “The Mile High Job.”  She’s a woman of color working for a business conglomerate that won’t take her seriously. In her off time, she enjoys playing World of Warcraft, something she instantly bonds with Hardison over.

9) Pretzels

Pardison (Parker x Hardison) is probably my personal OTP from the team. From the first episode, everyone else classifies Parker as “insane” or “twenty pounds of crazy in a five pound bag.” Alec Hardison is the only one who sees past that. His interest in her is clear from the start — not only as physical attraction but also as her biggest supporter on the team. When a job involving an orphan boy hits her on an emotional level, Parker nearly jeopardizes it trying to save other kids from ‘turning out like her.’

In season three, Parker’s displaying signs of jealousy when Hardison gets along with a female client. When she finally tries to articulate her problem to him, she can’t do it. Feelings aren’t something she ever learned how to handle, which Hardison recognizes and handles in the best way possible:

10) Hope

 Okay, I’m about to get really cheesy so if you want to close the article right now, I totally understand. Leverage is the one show that just makes me completely happy. It’s not perfect, but it’s PRACTICALLY perfect. I love every single one of these characters. I connect to characters who only pop up for one episode. I will watch re-runs for hours and laugh just as hard the twentieth time as I did the first time. By the time I got to the show’s end (which was an extremely satisfying one), I was ready to binge-watch it all over again. And I guess I just like the feeling that maybe a team like this could exist somewhere in the world, righting the wrongs of avaricious corporations and giving back to those in need.

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BONUS! 11) FIVE SEASONS AND MOVIE

After two-and-a-half years since the show’s conclusion, we just might get a Leverage movie. So check it out on Netflix or Hulu – watch it. Watch it again. Tweet at Dean Devlin and the cast about it! I’m sincerely hoping it’s a good omen that four out of the five leads have returned to television in other programs. Gina Bellman, come back on telly and complete the prophecy!

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I’m happy to answer any questions about Leverage, or even fangirl with you in the comments. Say it with me, folks – MOVIE. MOVIE. MOVIE.

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34 thoughts on “10 Reasons to Watch Leverage

  1. Leverage is the smartest, best-writtn series ever on TV. You really hit every positive about this show. It’s obvious that the cast members enjoyed their work and performed well, but I must confess that Christian Kane as Eliot is my favorite, a complex character who often surprises. Let’s hope that a #Leverage movie becomes a reality.

    1. I can’t even pick a favorite, I just love them all so much! Although I will admit that before I realized Librarians had the same writers for Leverage, I was originally only turning in to see Mr. Kane. 🙂

      I love that he’s been one of the loudest voices about getting a Leverage movie – that man continues to bring us hope.

  2. Thank you for this article, I feel the same way about the series. I just have one question about something you wrote in point four, I know the biracial aspect of the Partison relationship but I’m not sure of the polyamorous aspect. Could you clarify this for me? Thanks again for a great article.

    1. If you read fanfic (Fan written fictional stories), there are many with Eliot/Parker/Hardison as a trio. The writers and cast were aware of this development early in the show, and in the gag reels of either Season One or Two, Christian Kane, Beth Reisgraf and Aldis Hodge actually made a play on that, acting a short and hilarious scene where one of the crew comes looking for them and finds the three together, hurrying away as they pull on shirts, straighten buttons, etc.

    2. Certainly! In that sentence I’m actually referring to the ship of Eliot/Parker/Hardison, otherwise known as an OT3 (y’know, an OTP but made of 3 people). It’s a popuar fandom ship, especially in the fifth season with promises like “We change together” and Eliot’s vow to protect Parker and Hardison until his dying day.

      Plus, John Rogers replied to someone’s comment about the series finale regarding the OT3: https://twitter.com/rsadelle/status/284504310291767296

  3. Absolutely loved this show, own all 5 seasons! Love Timothy Hutton, Christian Kane and fell in love with the other three Aldis Hodge, Beth Reisgraf, and Gina Bellman. Loved that the good guys came out the winners, that sometimes life works out the way it should!

  4. Thank you so much for your great articel! I just love #Leverage!! I am one of those who discoverd that show less than a year ago.
    Like you wrote, you will never get tired of watching it again and again and.. you know what I mean… The characters, the plots, I just feel that there could have been so much more! This is even a show I consider family fun; my kids laugh at Parker, admire Hardison’s ‘age of the geek baby’, Sophie’s funny voices, Nate’s mastermind and on top of it all, Eliot’s howling and growling. #ChristianKane is my favorit and he really brings back memories of the A-teams B.A. :). Like in that show a lot happened but the good guys always won…..

  5. Leverage is the best show not on television anymore. I see shows with mundane writing, lame plotlines and horrible acting, and I wonder how they can get renewed and yet Leverage was cancelled? I would have loved five more years, but having the five we did get was a slice of heaven every night a new episode aired. Thank you so much for this article. Kaniacs, Grifters, and the entire rest of the fandom thank you!!!

  6. I can watch Leverage over and over and over again and see something that I had never seen before. Each episode was so detailed that you couldn’t see/hear it all in just one viewing. Each show developed a new aspect of each character and you fell in love with them again and again. It was Leverage that introduced me to Christian Kane and I eventually became a Kaniac. They’ve talked about a Leverage movie, but so far it’s not in the “works”. I would love for the series to return and I know thousands would agree. Dean if you read these, please make “it” happen. It was the best TV series since 2000 and I haven’t experienced another show that I like better.

  7. For nearly 30 years, M*A*S*H was my favorite show of all time. Leverage almost instantly replaced it. I go back to it again and again. I found it after cancellation, at a time in my life when what I needed most was a sense of hope and power over my own destiny, so you can see its appeal. I have so enjoyed continuing to follow the actors, writers, directors/producers’ careers, especially that of Christian Kane, my favorite.

  8. Looking forward to the Leverage Movie. And no cheesy-reunion-sentiment! Just a straight forward true Leverage Job. Besides, the show left with good ratings and a Best Drama Award. And they’re bringing back X-Files after 13 tears, so why not bring Leverage back? Why did it leave to begin with? Thanks to the entire cast and crew, you did an outstanding job! Hope to see you back soon.

  9. Leverage is seriously one of my favorite shows. I rewatch it a couple times a year and laugh and cry just as much as I did the first time through (maybe more). The character development, the relationships, the back stories (as the author said, just enough), the humor, the drama (enough to keep it interesting, not so much as to ruin the show), and of course the jobs. It’s a show that doesn’t take itself too seriously, yet at the same time manages to tackle tough issues in the lives of the characters (Nate’s alcoholism -and that one major life event that I won’t spoil for new viewers-, Sophie’s identity crisis, Parker’s inability of connect with others, etc). I’m sad it ended, but I don’t know if they could have possibly ended it better (seriously the BEST, hands down, finale I’ve ever seen). If you haven’t watched Leverage, you seriously should. If you have watched it, you should watch it again 😉

  10. “Let’s go steal some reasons to watch Leverage.” Awesome.
    It’s such a great show! And I love that all the characters are relatable in some way. It makes them human.

  11. Someone needs to correct/update this to include Chris Downey, who was the co-creator with John Rogers. The both have about the same number of official writing credits on the show, including combining to write both the premiere and finale. If you list to the fantastic commentary tracks, it’s clear they’re both heavily involved from start to finish of the series. John just has the wonderfully powerful personality that draws our attention, but Chris was wonderful in his involvement in the show as well.

  12. I’ve described Leverage to people as “Mac and Cheese TV.” It isn’t too fancy, but it just hits the spot perfectly, and it’s amazing in almost every situation. Had a rough day? Watch some Leverage, it’ll cheer you up! Just got a promotion? Watch some Leverage, it’s a great way to celebrate! Got a chest cold? Grab your favorite hot beverage and watch some Leverage! Got a date? Leverage on Netflix is an amazing choice, and if your partner ends up not liking Leverage, then it’s good to know that upfront.

  13. I frelling love Leverage. I think I do a full series re-watch about three times a year and I never tire of it. I’d be fine if they just gave us a few TV movies – say a couple or three per year.

    When I talk to people about it the phrase I keep coming back to is that they caught lightening in a bottle with it. It’s the only time I’ve seen the following components merge perfectly: cast, writing, production.

    Miss the show to bits.

  14. It’s still my number one go to show when I need to smile …. What you wrote was so true very word! Still miss it and keep bugging Dean about our movie …. From what I’ve seen from Christian, Beth, Gina. Aldis and Tim they are on board … The fans want it … So get writing

  15. I literally watch reruns of this show constantly when I don’t know what to watch. It hits every awesome point of a tv show. I think I have watched the San Lorenzo Job (one of my favorites) at least ten different times. What I love is finding new things I did not notice before, like them mentioning the Maltese Falcon three episodes before the S2 ending episode. Or they mention San Lorenzo four episodes before the S3 ending. So cool.

  16. All of these things are great reasons why you should watch Leverage, but if you have the DVDs, there is something else: the commentary. Every single episode has commentary that you can listen to while watching. I think my husband and I tossed on an episode with commentary just for background noise once, but it was so great we had to do that with all of the episodes. The writers, directors, producers, and cast are so completely entertaining that I will never be able to listen to commentary on anything else. They point out little things that you may not have noticed, talk about little quirks in the episode and even their technical speak is funny! If that does not convince you to watch at least one episode with the commentary on, did I mention that they are drinking while they talk? You can actually hear the clink of ice cubes occasionally.

  17. What can you say about Leverage, but say that it was a show unlike any other. I don’t know why I fell in love with the characters. Perhaps the writing, perhaps the acting, perhaps the people. I fell in love with the show, and will always hold a certain hate for those that pulled the plug. I loved the last episode.. but hated it at the same time. It meant it was over… perhaps the final lesson. A bittersweet finale, that somehow left you wanting to re-watch the entire thing again… and again… and again. Not many shows can do that. Leverage can.

  18. I agree with everything in this article. Leverage is my all-time favorite show. I am currently watching reruns on Netflix and would love a movie. I discovered this show while visiting my parents. My mom and I watched a marathon. Miss the whole Leverage gang.

  19. Leverage is the smartest and well rounded TV show there has ever been. You have a different type of show each week due to different kinds of clientele needs. It marries drama and comedy perfectly. casting was superb. I can not imagine anyone else playing any of the roles. Writing is so good bit parts became recurring roles for many actors. No other show has so much factual data used in their cons. As I prefaced with the smartest show out there. I do not mention its cancellation because Leverage will never die.

  20. I agree with everything! It was soo fun and just made me completely happy to watch this show! Miss it very much!

  21. You have said everything that I have believed for years. I love leverage I’ve watched it 1 million times and I’m never tired of any episode. Every character is interesting fun and lovable. I am praying for movie and don’t know who to write to keep trying To convince them that a movie would be a great day please keep me informed if you hear anything. Thank you

  22. i fully agree with you. I love Leverage still today. My favourite is Sophie/ Gina Bellman, but all characters are great. The 5.10 Frame up Job… or The Hot Potato Job… OMG!!! It is a pity the Brazilian Netflix doesn’t have it. Luckily I have most of it on DVD, but other (old and new) fans could (re) discover it.

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