House of Lies: Season 5
Serious fans of television have been living in a golden age ever since the premium cable networks such as HBO, Showtime and Starz have begun producing original content. Exempt from the FCC’s restrictions on such aspects as language, adult situations and a degree of sexuality impossible to even consider on the traditional broadcast networks. There is a side effect of this freedom that many people tend to overlook, by attracting some of the best writers, directors and actors both television and movies there is a shortage of fresh ideas ready to become the next hot topic at the water cooler. This greater latitude in content permitted the upper tier networks to become more predisposed to bringing a popular series to a conclusion, ‘House of Lies.' For five years Showtime has provided audiences a glimpse into the surrealistic world of managerial consultants. These are members of the bizarre profession that serve as hired guns for companies need expertise beyond the scope of those within their firm. A Couple of Years Ago, Tea Party Content, Sarah Palin, villainized consultants was spending an inordinate amount on her outside assistance. At its foundation the stories told using the ancient narrative technique of reductio ad absurdum, making a satirical point by reducing the premise of a ridiculous level possible. Within the context of the series this methodology refers to some of the less sociable personality traits prevalent in successful upper tier consultants freeing them from any ameliorating aspects of the typical personality. This allows for the creation of a principal character was so focused on success and personal gain at any cost that is all but indistinguishable from a high functioning sociopath. This provides a platform for an exceptionally talented actor, Don Cheadle, to assume the persona of Marty Kaan. If he had chosen a career in the military rather than consulting, he would have left a path of scorched earth in his wake. Based on the best-selling, semiautobiographical novel, ' House of Lies: How Management Consultants Steal Your Watch and Then Tell You the Time’, this is a dark comedy that is tinged with the frightening understanding that it may be closer to the truth that you’re willing to accept.
One of the many navigational hazards in the field of consulting is the competition. Certainly, within any capitalistic economy, business rivals are potentially dangerous to the acceptance of your services. However, with consultants success requires a steady stream of fresh clients with a perceived need to fill and the financial resources to afford to hire you adequately. Marty Kaan (Don Cheadle) has undertaken the usual career path of first rising to the top of one of the most successful consulting firms to forming his company taking as much of the best talent he could induce to follow him and sufficient top shelf clients to provide the necessary capital to build their business. The problem that Marty faced at the end of the previous season was a byproduct of success; turning his company into an irresistible target for a takeover by a larger firm with far deeper pockets. As this final season commences Kaan & Associates was just appropriated in an almost friendly hostile takeover. It was a final door blessing for Marty and his crew since K&A was on the precipice of corporate oblivion. The face behind the acquisition belonged to Denna Altshuler (Mary McCormack) who swoops in as a corporate savior representing the firm she owns, Global Investments. Marty is getting a lot more in the way of her attention; she is his friend with benefits.
For an individual like Marty any experience, no matter how punitively intended, can be leveraged to his benefit is some fashion. When life gives Marty lemons, he sells them to someone else and then overcharges them for his services consulting on their lemonade stand. Marty’s recent incarceration lead to a potentially lucrative association, Gage Hightower (Demetri Martin), a Great White among salespeople and owner of Gage Motors, a new company hoping to be at the forefront of the migration of the public to electric cars. Part of Marty’s business philosophy, which he frequently breaks the fourth wall to share with the viewers, is that even if someone has the potential to be a substantial source of revenue, you must be aware that they are as duplicitous and self-serving as you are. This description is dead on accurate in its application to Gage. One note that is pertinent at this point is that Mr. Martin is an example of the steadily growing former standup comedians making a highly successful transition to serious dramatic roles.
It only required a couple of episodes for the story to reach the fast pace action that exemplified this series. Unlike most traditionally structured shows attempting to master this degree of consistent intensity, ‘House od Lies’ devoted a mere half hour to each episode. This time slot profile is considered optimal for sitcoms or other lighthearted shows. One of the many paradigms that the elite cable networks have shattered is this artificial restriction of this episode length. In this particular instance, the brevity demonstrates efficiency in writing that neatly emulates the division of a novel into chapters capable of getting directly to the point. The economic use of dialogue places an additional constraint to the actor assuming the character. They have to be able to get the subtle nuances integral to the understanding of their character while consistently keeping up with the exceptionally robust pacing infused in every scene. Fortunately, the cast assembled here are fantastically able to rise to meet the challenge. Mr. Cheadle began as a sought after journeyman actor well suited to the crucial function provided by character actors. He built upon that fertile training ground to become an Academy Award nominated leading man. Mr. Cheadle possesses a range that extends from action hero in the juggernaut known as the Marvel Cinematic Universe to comedic guest appearances on MADtv and a recurring role as Captain Planet for a web based satiric site, Funnyordie. Kristin Bell is another example of an actor so marvelously versatile that I have never appreciated how effortlessly her performances seen to be. She initially came to widespread attention as the titular lead in the television series ‘Veronica Mars.' Ms. Bell is confident in her talent which broadens her highly eclectic range to include guest appearances on a multitude of television shows some films, and to her apparent enjoyment, she also appears in other Funnyordie short videos portraying such characters as Mary Poppins singing her resignation. Ms. Bell most recently appeared in a funny but underappreciated and short-lived series ‘The Good Place.'
Ardent fans will undoubtedly miss ‘House of Lies’ will is a certain wisdom to Showtime bringing the series to an end. It is much better to go out on top rather than realize that originality has begun to wane ruining the fond memories of the series. This has been a series containing an acerbic wit and sharply honed satiric edge. Everyone associated with this show, on both sides of the camera are remarkably talented. It is an integral part of such outstanding ability that they need to branch out and extend their scope with new challenges. It is unreasonable to expect them to remain too long with one project denying the exciting opportunities that await them and their fans.