REVIEW: House of Lies (Showtime – Sunday, 10:00 p.m.)

Charming, fast talking Marty Kaan and his crack team of MBA-toting management consultants are playing America’s 1 percent for everything they’ve got. They put the con in consulting as they charm smug, unsuspecting corporate fat cats into closing huge deals, and spending a fortune for their services. Twisting the facts, spinning the numbers, and spouting just enough business school jargon to dazzle the clients, there’s no end to what this crew won’t do to and for each other, while laughing all the way to the bank. Starring Academy Award® Nominee Don Cheadle and Kristen Bell, nothing is sacred in HOUSE OF LIES, a hilarious, irreverent send-up of corporate America today. – Showtime

22 out of 100

It’s hard to explain exactly how we knew this show was going to be as bad as it was before it even started, but let’s just say that we had an idea based on the general snarkiness that oozed from the trailers that Showtime was pumping down our throats at the end of each episode of Dexter and Homeland.  And even though we knew it would be distasteful based on what we had seen, being distasteful in and of itself isn’t automatic disqualifer as far as television is concerned, especially for comedies.

We enjoy a lot of shows that would be considered distasteful.  F/X’s  Archer is probably one of the most distasteful shows on television and it also happens to be the most brilliant comedy on television.  As far as dramas are concerned, Starz’ Boss couldn’t be any more distasteful but we absolutely love it and of course there’s all of those reality shows that we sheepishly admit that even we enjoy (yes, Celebrity Wife Swap, we’re looking at you). This is what we like to call guilty pleasure programming; we know it’s terrible for us but it’s just soooooooo good. It’s kinda like eating an entire Whitman’s Sampler box in one sitting.

Therein lies the problem with House of Lies.  It’s not a guilty pleasure and we had a funny feeling that it wasn’t going to be because like all of the characters on the show, it just looked too slick for its own good.

Here’s the opening two minutes of the pilot:

An overhead shot of a naked Don Cheadle (Kaan) passed out on a naked Dawn Olivieri (Monica Talbot).  Kaan wakes up in a panic and immediately attempts to revive his “overnight guest” and nothing’s working which seems a little odd for the audience to say the least.  Then the voice-overs and the cutaways begin and Marty explains that naked woman who he is so desperately trying to revive is his prescription medication addicted ex-wife and he dresses her while she’s unconscious and props her in a chair with a laptop because… why?  Get ready for this: he wants his 10 year-old cross-dressing son to think she was doing work.  Charming, isn’t it?

Nope, it’s not and neither is Cheadle’s portrayal of Kaan, or any of the characters on this show or the show itself.  House of Lies is just another in a long line of shows with reprehensible characters behaving reprehensibly under the guise of being charming and clever.  There is nothing charming or clever about this show.

Again, we have no problem with nudity or other adult-audience oriented behavior on premium cable, but it becomes an issue when it’s used gratuitously as a crutch in an effort to hide the fact that the writing on a show is lacking and that’s exactly what’s going on here. House of Lies is using cheap gimmicks to try to hide the fact that it’s not just not a very good show.

HOUSE OF LIES, a hilarious, irreverent send-up of corporate America today.”

No, what House of Lies is is a big fat snooze-fest.  This show is supposed to be a comedy but not only did we not laugh once, it was the longest 35 minutes of TV watching we’ve ever endured.  It was so slow that it honestly felt like over an hour had passed at the 22-minute mark.

Seriously, this is a big fact stinker and we expected a lot more from Cheadle and Kristen Bell.

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