TV Show Review

TV Review: HOUSE OF LIES: Season 1, Episode 1: The Gods of Dangerous Financial Instruments

Don Cheadle, House of Lies

House of Lies Season 1 Episode 1 The Gods of Dangerous Financial Instruments ReviewHouse of Lies: Season 1, Episode 1: The Gods of Dangerous Financial Instruments is hilarious and outrageous but not sleazy or over the top. The show introduces an aspect of the business world that few ever see or knew existed. Because of that, unlike with over-saturated lawyer shows, House of Lies has a freshness to it. Along with that freshness is refreshment: the show is completely self-aware, breaking the third wall constantly. Series star Marty Kaan (Don Cheadle) looks at the viewer to explain industry jargon all the time, acting as both a character in the series and as a teacher giving practical, working examples of consultant slang. This is both a strength and a weakness: taking time to explain what was just said could diminish it and the show (talking down to the viewer) but in a comedy/drama like this, it works.

One of the best parts of the show thus far is the real business infused into the business meetings and business presentations of the House of Lies. The episode’s Powerpoint presentation combined with the Kaan speech it ameliorated are highly effective and persuasive.

If the first episode is indicative of the rest of the series, fans of comedies and dramas will be in for an entertaining dose of both. The opening scene for the episode is hilarious: both actor (Don Cheadle) and actress (Dawn Olivieri) are bravely naked, but its not hot, for the most part, so much as funny. Example: Olivieri’s butt is clearly visible, Cheadle slips putting on her dress and his face lands on it, much to his chagrin.

The rest of the cast initially bolster Cheadle and his performance (he is having a large amount of fun with Kaan) but begin to break off and lay the ground work for their own characters.

With Jeannie Van Der Hooven (Kristen Bell) being a business psychologist, the team, whether they know it or want it, has a potential morale center. Like in the film Tropic Thunder where the black face character could have been seen as derogatory were it not for his foil, the actual African-American, Hooven is Kaan’s foil. Clyde Oberholt (Ben Schwartz) and Doug Guggenheim (Josh Lawson), at this point, are only Kaan’s retainers.

What adds to the drama of the show and Kaan’s life are Kaan’s cross dressing son and his school life, intermingled with his ex-psychologist father and how he looks down on Kaan and his ex-wife’s parenting abilities.

Besides the drama in the show there is levity, lots of it. There is a strip club scene in the episode that is particularly humorous: Kaan’s team dances in the vip room, each getting their turn, each with varying degrees of rythme and grace while Kaan is enticed by a comely stripper that ends up being his breakfast and dinner date. In other, non-recreational venues, the characters display various degrees of unscrupulous behavior all to land a consulting contract and garner the holiest of holies: afterwork.

House of Lies is starting off as strongly as the third season of Californation, balancing humor with emotional, dramatic moments.

 

About the author

Rollo Tomasi

A Political Science and MBA grad who started FilmBook during an eCommerce B-School course in 2008. Cinema and TV addict. Former writer at Empire Movies, Blogcritics, and Alternative Film Guide. In addition to writing for FilmBook, he also edits the copy published on the website, manages its writing staff, manages the back-end operations, site finances, its social network accounts, and works with publicists, actors, and companies on press coverage and promotions. He has also created ProMovieBlogger.com and Trending Awards.com.

  • Californication is a good comparison considering the likeable, but roguish main character and the focus on sexy shenanigans. I wish they would prioritize the consulting aspect a bit more and drop some of the more misogynistic female portrayals (crazy ex, stripper, lesbian wife and randy drama mom in 30 minutes?). It’s a bit much.

    Thank goodness for K-Bell! Like her and Cheadle, so maybe if they flesh out the guys the ensemble will be stronger. Worth watching, but I wasn’t as positive as you.

    My take: http://wp.me/p1VQBq-ia

  • “I wish they would prioritize the consulting aspect a bit more”

    So do I. They prioritized more and more the collation of data in Rubicon (great show) and that show got canceled in its first season

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