I watched the season finale of House of Lies S01 last night and can finally review it here for you. [Hmm, I just realized an important point for fellow bloggers: Nine Inch Nails is terrible music to listen to while trying to write – mental note taken. Nightmares on Wax, much better!]. Another quick introductory comment, I found this show so awesome because I work in the corporate world and loved many of the examples they used (particularly the ERP example) and because having a friend who worked for a period at McKinsey, and from everything he told me, Galweather & Stearn is a pretty scarily accurate picture of the micro-universe of management consulting.
Let’s look at the central characters and then I’ll write about the show itself.
Marty Kaan is our tour guide into the world of corporate management and both the most insincere and yet lovable character on the show. He is charming, sexy, funny, and extremely dangerous as he will stop at nothing to close. He is a very difficult boss though. Other than the sexual tension between himself and Jeannie (no spoiler I promise), he treats her, Clyde, and Doug like shit most of the time. That being said, he does turn around and give them credit at the end, but the pressure on them is massive. And again, he works every bit as hard as they do…I think that working for him would be exhilarating but that a normal person would not last more than 18 months without burning out. All things being equal, he makes for an excellent anchor on this show and he is so fun to watch – particularly in the freeze-action scenes.
Jeannie is one very hot management consultant. OK, so Marty’s ex is more sultry and curvy, but we can see Jeannie’s humble background and desperate climb to power in her pouty smile. She is a complex character mixing unabashed ambition (Rainman) and sincere vulnerability (the fiancé). I find that even her slight cross-eyed glance grew on me – and I found that particularly amazing that despite this handicap, she was still portrayed so prominently – bravo to the writing staff because I think other shows (Nip and Tuck, Dexter, etc) would not have taken that risk. It was fascinating to watch her evolve even during the 12 short episodes of this season into a fuller, more intriguing character and I am really looking forward to what happens with her next year.
It was a bit unfortunate that Clyde and Doug were stuck with the supporting roles as kind of a dorky Oliver and Hardy in this first season. Both had this incredible mix of being awkward looking and yet super confident (well most of the time). The division of labor in the Pod was hard to see but what isn’t to like about a show where characters argue about PowerPoint! Of the two, I preferred the arrogant and sleazy Clyde to the uptight and occasionally sheepish Doug but they were excellent foils for each other. One of the funniest aspects of the show was their constant bickering and picking on each other. Hopefully in S02, there will be a little more on these two as we saw nearly nothing of their lives outside the Firm.
Overall, I loved the punchy aspect of this show, its outlandish sexuality and language, and the hilarious dialogs. Jeannie trying to be one of the guys and yet also using her feminine charms where necessary, Marty being, well, Marty, and the comedic relief of Clyde and Doug kept me riveted for the whole season. It was also interesting that the style changed a bit where the early episodes were almost like a mystery show and the later ones were more on the pending merger and its impact on Marty and the Pod. It kept me interested and guessing. Probably the funniest bit was the sex toys episode and the least interesting, the party at the Rainmaker’s house. The best shows for me were the opener and the closer and that’s probably how it should be. Can’t wait for S02.
A little credit going out to fellow bloggers and their posts that I found on Google about House of Lies: tvfanatic and television without pity. This sort of negative article on Slate was interesting and I agree that the further development of the principal characters in S02 will be critical for this show to survive to S03.