I’ve watched five seasons of this show, HOUSE OF LIES, in the last week, and…I feel like it’s not very good. I mean, no, that’s not true. It has its good points. Maybe it’s good. But people act like premium TV is some sort of magic, and it’s really not. Premium TV might be able to avoid some of the traps that network TV falls into, but it’s created new ones of its own.
In this case, the problem was that the show is a sitcom that’s really only intermittently funny. It’s a show about cutthroat management consultants who screw over everyone in sight, including their own clients, in order to make money. And it’s also a show, like Entourage, about a mostly male and very macho culture of huge, sexist douchebaggery. In this case, the show improves on entourage by having a female cast member, Kristen Bell, and one of the main joys of the show is watching her deftly navigate this environment.
But the show gets less and less funny as time goes on. It continually goes for dramatic arcs and serious moral conundra, when really what we want is a solid problem-of-the-week show where this team of consultants jettisons into some weird place (a Mormon hotel chain; a Silicon Valley startup headed by a 23 year old; a chain of nightclubs owned by a pair of douchey Russian–or are they Armenian?–twins.) That’s the stuff, that’s all we need. The other crap–the constant The Good Wife-style maneuvering for control of this firm, and all the family drama, and the will-they-or-won’t-they relationship drama? It’s just not funny. And it’s not intended to be. It’s supposed to be this deep antihero story about the state of Don Cheadle’s soul. But it always seems very pro forma, as if this is only in the show because this is the sort of thing that shows like this tend to have.