TV ReviewShowtime drama House of Lies,' starring Don Cheadle, is mildly disturbing but totally watchable
By David Hinckley, New York Daily News
- Jan. 6, 2012
Like many of Showtime's most cherished series, House of Lies can be annoying and entertaining at the same time.
Don Cheadle stars as Marty Kaan, whose last name is not the most subtle thing about the show. Marty heads a slick management consulting firm that fully grasps the bottomless corruption in corporate America and gets rich by figuring how to skim off its own share.
As long as you don't get distracted by minor concerns like morality, ethics, fairness or human compassion, Marty figures, there's enough free-floating cash to go around.
In the pantheon of dark Showtime satires, this one is a little more disturbing than Weeds and a little less disturbing than Dexter, if that helps.
The show's strongest asset, out of the box, looks to be Cheadle, who plays the Marty role with the right mix of fire and ice.
To prospective clients, he comes off as a can-do guy, unshaken by pressure and always attentive to the bigger picture.
At the same time, he plays them the way they play their customers, with cynical flattery.
In the first episode, for instance, he and his team are pitching a mortgage company called Metro Capital that lured millions of people into mortgages they couldn't afford and now is the target of national wrath.
Marty's solution is every bit as sleazy as Metro itself, and of course he becomes their white knight.
It's not the most subtle satire on corporate greed, but coming by coincidence right after the Occupy protests, it is at the very least timely.
It also suggests, on a quasi-serious note, that the problem isn't just a few Gordon Gekkos at the top, but the army of wanna-bes they attract.
In Marty's case, his posse includes Clyde (Ben Schwartz), Doug (Josh Lawson) and Jeannie (Kristen Bell). Jeannie gets a few sympathy points because she has to keep fighting off Marty's unsubtle advances, but none of the three shows much concern for anyone outside their portfolio.
House of Lies is not, however, only about corporate scammers who collect bonuses and disappear into tax shelters.
Marty has a personal life that's as tangled as Metro Capital's books. His ex-wife Monica (Dawn Olivieri) is alternately one of his toughest professional rivals, the pill-popping mother of their son, Roscoe (Donis Leonard Jr.), and his partner in angry vengeance sex.
Roscoe also emerges as a key character, because he's the apple that has fallen directly from the tree. Before he's a teenager, he's already Marty, working the angles and looking out for number one. He demands, for instance, that Marty apply some muscle to the school principal because Roscoe can't play Sandy in the school production of Grease.
Kids. Here, as in Weeds, Dexter and Shameless, they are our most precious resource.'HOUSE OF LIES'
Sunday at 10 p.m. on Showtimehttp://www.nydailynews.com/entertain...icle-1.1001403