How Leverage Changed My Life
This is dedicated to John Rogers, Chris Downey, Dean Devlin, Timothy Hutton, Gina Bellman, Christian Kane, Aldis Hodge, Beth Riesgraf, Mark Sheppard and Kari Matchett and all of the people behind the scenes, as well as all of the wonderful guest stars who made Leverage our home away from home.
Before I say my long goodbye, please understand that Leverage is not just a television series; for the fans, Leverage became a lifestyle. Leverage cast members tweeted and included the fans in their lives before other shows did; they were accessible and made us feel like family. We held chats and group viewings before GET Glue, all organized on Facebook and Twitter. There is a whole Leverage -Nation, creating fan videos, fan fiction, Wiki’s and much more. Fans went to Portland for Con-Con, for concerts, organized the first Road Trip Job and Stole the AT&T Winterfest for Kane, the band started by Christian Kane and Steve Carlson. One fan started a website to support the charity the Aldis Hodge volunteers for every Christmas. Another planned “Con-1” when the second Con-Con got cancelled.
Look at all of the social media that surrounds TV viewing now; that started with Beth Riesgraf, when she got the Leverage cast to join Twitter. The personal tweets allowed the fans to connect with Leverage and each other in a way that had never happened before. That’s how we met.
I have a social anxiety disorder and PTSD. I don’t talk about it; I just bury myself and hide from view. I have one friend and my kids; that was all I could handle. I disappeared from my family a long time ago and so my kids barely know their extended family. I have spent my life creating different worlds in my head where it was safe to “be”. I became a writer, but I never put anything out there for people to read. I was afraid that I wasn’t good enough.
To those around me, I have a hard shell and a tough exterior; so much so that only my children and my friend ever knew that there was anything “wrong” with me. I pretend to be someone that I am not, in public. That was the only way I could hold a job. I learned a long time ago that I could never form the words required to ask for help; I was raised to be strong and never let anyone see my pain or tears. People have the idea that I am untouchable; no one would ever try to hug me.
Leverage changed my life because in spite of their distance from each other, the Leverage crew works as a team, for others. They took risks even though it was dangerous; in the beginning they did not trust each other. One thing that they did trust was their own skill. Before Leverage I thought that my 360 degree awareness and lightning reflexes were a defense. Leverage taught me that those are skills. I thought that my writing was just a way to escape; Leverage taught me that telling a good story is a skill, too. Even my “pretending” to be something and someone I am not is a skill; Leverage calls it “Grifting.”
The real turning point for me was when a friend told me that I should write about the show because of how it changed me. That was in 2010. I started doing research and I found an interview with Christian Kane. He talked about how he had become an actor; he saw a movie that changed his life, so he got in his truck and drove to LA. It suddenly occurred to me that I had been writing since I was 12; so why was I working on becoming an Electrician?
Leverage brought me out of my comfort zone; once I wrote about the show and the cast I quickly made a lot of “friends who live inside my computer.” They value me in ways that I never believed possible. I value myself in ways I never thought possible. I have come home, to me, to my writing, to my first love. It took Leverage to show me that I was strong, smart, and skilled. My family tried to tell me, so I shut them out. My kids tried to tell me, so I bought them things to show them that being an electrician was safer. Leverage gave me the courage to take the risk. Alex Tucker and TV Film News gave me the chance to showcase my talent. Now I have five employers who allow me to work from home, writing. I have also reconnected with my whole family.
Thank you, to all of those involved with Leverage, including TNT for bringing us this band of bad guys who made the best good guys and Blew Sh*t Up! I am sorry that we are not getting a sixth season, in spite of all the promotion that the fans have done. I am thankful for the 77 episodes that we can watch over and over.
I have asked a few friends to offer their thanks as well, by telling how Leverage changed their lives, as it did mine. First is from Sandra Martinez who brought a lot of us together with her “All Things Leverage” Facebook Page. She organized us for group viewings and so much more; she gave us a place to meet, and a forum in which to be heard. The rest are in alphabetical order.
Sandra Martinez: ”To me, the show came at a transitional point in my life. And it seemed to me that these five people were in the same kind of spot-important choices and changes. And none of them could be called “perfect people”. They were all damaged in some respect; like all of us are. I immediately fell in love with the shows’ action, writing, and a very big thing I think is missing in TV and movies these days: humor. Not mean spirited humor, or the comedies in which the SITUATION is funny, but a real almost self defense type humor that comes not from their circumstances but from people trying to deal with seemingly insurmountable odds-and each other. This rang true.
“I will never forget the feeling I had the first time I saw The Maltese Falcon Job; the true masterpiece of the series in my opinion. Here we had this wonderfully dissimilar group who had only known each other a couple of years. And for Nate, for all his brash talk and personal demons, to not only sacrifice himself for his “family”, but to finally admit to HIMSELF and say aloud “I am Nate Ford and I am a thief”, was a jaw-dropping heart-skips-a-beat moment. If any of the team ever had any doubts about his loyalty and depth of feeling he had for them, it was squelched right then and there. I still shiver when I hear it. So I guess it is that feeling-right there-that I will miss the most. I adore a good con and justice served, but for me, it was the dealings with their FEELINGS that kept me coming back each and every week.
“And lastly, and more importantly personally, I will miss the Grifters, Kaniacs and entire kooky Leverage Nation. I have made friends here that I feel I will have the rest of my life. Something that I never thought could happen in social media. And even so, it will never be the same. I have NEVER become so involved with a TV show in my life and probably never will. This was lightning in a bottle. I wish it would never end but am eternally grateful that it struck.”
Brenda Wilhelm Arendt: ”Leverage was more than a TV show for our family. Each one of us identified with aspects of each character: we all have had Eliot attitude at one time or another, my hubby loved Hardison’s geekiness, I loved Sophie’s characters and we enjoyed Nate’s schemes. My daughter Audrey is a mini Parker, she even dressed like “Pjark” one Halloween. This show was one we never failed to watch. Thank you to the creators, producers, directors, actors, crew, extras, and all those behind the scenes who came together for 5 wonderful seasons of Leverage.”
Vanessa Basil: “Leverage has been a driving force in my life since the day it premiered four years ago. Because of Leverage, I discovered the city of Portland, was introduced to incredible music, inspired to expand my career skills, embarked on adventures, met people who have become close friends, and overall found happiness in my life. Leverage is not just a TV show; it’s a mix of countless hours of hard work, personal sacrifices, and overall brilliance that bring people together with inspiring stories of vigilante heroes righting the many wrongs of this world.”
Mary E. Brewer: ”Don’t know if I can pinpoint a moment or a single episode of LEVERAGE that empowered me. I was late on the scene to LEVERAGE. Only found it two years ago while channel surfing and spotted Christian Kane. He got my attention all right. The rest they say is history. I looked more into Christian and Leverage and realized that I really enjoyed them both as I discovered Christian’s music as well. That lead me to Facebook and to fan groups where I discovered I love to work with other fans of both Christian and Leverage to promote them. I have found many wonderful friends from all over the world I would have never met otherwise. These fan groups give me a sense of purpose and a sense of fulfillment that was missing in my life. So thank you LEVERAGE and thank you Christian Kane.”
Ann Ryce: ”The first episode is when I first noticed it but by the second one I knew. Without knowing the writers had given Eliot border-line personality disorder, something that is caused by PEOPLE, it makes a person withdraw from people, have trust issues, not liking to be touched and take extremely dangerous risks. I know because I have it and felt I was alone in the world. Every time he made an advance I knew I could and it’s been that way for 5 yrs. I thank the writers for making him like that because it gave me the strength to try instead of staying like I was. I haven’t hit anything in over a month, BUT that is GOOD! I’m still moving slowly to learn to trust and even be touched! I still tense up badly and have to get prepared to be touched; it still isn’t safe to touch me while I’m asleep, but I watched as Eliot worked up to being hugged and I knew I could do it. Leverage is the BEST therapy there is, for anyone with BPD; it is very hard to deal with but I felt I wasn’t alone anymore and it was a HUGE comfort, I knew I could learn to do this as well! Thank you EVERYONE from Leverage!”
Jessica Snyder: ”My “aha” moment was during The Van Gogh Job” my dad and I had a strained relationship/not really talking up till then. Aldis’s character played a supply man in WWII, and suddenly I looked over at my dad and he was crying. He said, “That was what your grandpa did right before he died. You know you remind me a lot of him. He would have been proud of his grand daughter.” From then on, we have been able to slowly mend things back together. That is how Leverage changed my life, and made me realize family was important.”
Laurie Starke: ”It is the amazing writers, producers, and actors that took me away for an hour from my own mundane reality. There was a different story each week. There is no other show like it. It also is the only show where we felt connected to behind the scenes. Leverage was our extended family that I looked forward to being with every week and then discussing the show with other fans. I enjoyed it from every angle and I’ve never have felt that way about any show before.”
Tet S. Tiongco: ”There isn’t really any big moment that I can remember right now, but what I’m sure of is how Leverage enabled me to escape from the troubles of life. Watching an episode is always a “fun ride” as John Rogers would always say about that we are in a fun train. It was this year that I have experienced an ultimate low in my life, and to ease the pain and forget the worries for awhile, I would have a mini Leverage marathon. It helped me get thru that bumpy ride in my life. Maybe it sounds shallow, but it really helped me forget my worries and refresh my thinking which eventually helped me get back on the right track. I guess a line that will always stick with me is in the first season. “This is not how the world works…” and Nate answered “So change the world.” We all have the ability to make a difference, no matter how small, to each person we meet and we must not pass that opportunity to pass on kindness to other people. Thank you, Leverage. And if you guys decide to continue the show elsewhere or whatever format, count on me to support you.”
Nema Veze: ”After I joined Leverage fandom, in less than a year, I learned how to make videos, gifs, and I started to write again, this time on English for the first time in my life. In eight wonderful months, I wrote over 230,000 words of fiction and I connected with people from all over the world. Leverage opened one entirely new world for me, and I want it to continue.”
Deanna Werner: ”Thank you for bringing us Leverage! As a culinary student, I have certain times in my day for personal time after school as well as after work. And as one of my many vices when it comes to TV, Leverage is my #1 pick. Because of Leverage, the actors and the execs associated with the show, I’ve made so many new friends. Some I consider family, and I wouldn’t have been able to do so if Leverage didn’t have such an amazing following. All different age groups and walks of life that watch the show is just fantastic to see. This show brought so many people into my life and because of that it’s made my free time from my everyday life a lot more fun!”
I encourage all of you to share your Leverage comments, stories and goodbyes here, in the comments and on line or in person, with your friends. Enjoy the Series Finale this evening at 10:/9: central with an encore at midnight. I’d like to thank Lori Lamb for the picture; she is not saying goodbye, but championing our show to other networks!
Leverage 5×15, The Long Goodbye Job, is the series and season finale; airing on TNT at 10:/9: central, December 25th, 2012.
Follow Faye Constantino on her blog faybebay.hubpages.com or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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