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Without a doubt, Showtime's "House of Lies" was one of my most eagerly awaited programs of 2012. Headlined by Don Cheadle and Kristen Bell, the previews for this blistering sitcom looked bawdy, over-the-top, and merciless. There's nothing that I enjoy more than brutal satire, dark humor, and pushing the boundaries of traditional television. So my expectations were through the roof. And for the most part, I was completely satisfied (if not instantly blown away) with the end result. By being on Showtime, "House of Lies" definitely makes the most of its adult situations with outrageous language, unrepentant viciousness, and frank sexual discussions and partnerships. In many ways, though, I felt "House of Lies" trying too hard to be provocative. Everything is done at such extremes, the program rarely settles enough to get you to actually care about its protagonists. They are a questionable bunch, to be sure, but I'd have appreciated a few more grounded moments amidst the mayhem to make the show feel a bit more well rounded. Don't get me wrong. I still thoroughly enjoyed this decidedly brutal comedy, it just lacked the fine tuning necessary to make it one of TV's best.

At its most successful, "House of Lies" skewers business culture, office politics, and the cutthroat nature of getting ahead at any cost. Cheadle plays a ruthless business consultant whose team includes Bell, Ben Schwartz, and Josh Lawson. This quartet is the backbone of the show and each episode showcases them finessing the art of the deal using unscrupulous tactics. The role of the business consultant can be varied, but essentially the team is looking to be hired to provide the outside expertise on any number of topics involving efficiency. They will do anything to secure the job and whatever it takes to keep the client satisfied. Although heightened for maximum humor, "House of Lies" actually paints a pretty convincing portrait of this environment! The show, as it progresses, also deals with changes within Cheadle's own firm that may compromise his position as a top dog earner. In these business negotiations, the camera often freezes the action so that Cheadle can school the viewer on the latest manipulation or corporate doublespeak. The dialogue itself is smart, witty, profane, and unexpectedly cutting. It is certainly not for someone with a sensitive constitution.

Cheadle is clearly having the time of his life. Completely unrestrained, he chews the scenery in every take and is wickedly funny. Bell, as an actress, seems to be finding her way and I wish someone would stop trying to make her the next Katherine Heigl in films. She was designed for edgier fare, and this absolutely suits what she should be doing. Smarmy Ben Schwartz gets some of the best lines (and he's perfecting this kind of jerk role) and his childish competitions with Lawson provide some of the show's most memorable moments. And as the dramatic stakes rise with Cheadle's future hanging in the balance, great character actors Griffen Dunne and Greg Germann get a chance to shine as corporate bigwigs. Seriously, anything having to do with a workplace setting really works.

I'm not as convinced, though, by the elements meant to humanize Cheadle. His home life is molded in the only-on-TV model with one of the most precocious, offbeat, and wizened TV kids that you're likely to encounter. I never much believed or cared about the aspects of his private life which never held the zing of the livelier segments. They also try to establish a romantic entanglement, but as she moves in almost immediately to raise his kid--nothing feels very organic. His ex-wife is played with ferocity by Dawn Olivieri (who is also a rival consultant) and the two are constantly at war. I like Olivieri, but this might be one plot point too many. When we're stuck in Cheadle's home life, we miss being at work! Although I didn't always love "House of Lies," I appreciated the chances that it took. As an adult comedy, it's not perfect. But it has huge potential, a great cast, and doesn't dumb itself down for mass consumption. My prediction: if you love the show, you'll really love it and if you don't, you'll really dislike it. But definitely try it for something original! KGHarris, 7/12.
33 comments|29 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on November 21, 2012
If you have a liking for brutally ruthless, highly intelligent, adult humor (including language and sex) in a high stakes, cut throat, big business environment, go no further. My wife and I are absolutely addicted.
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on January 6, 2013
If you have never worked in Corporate America, nor have any interest in it, this show may seem preposterous to you. However, if you have worked in Corporate America, and had to suffer through outside Management Consultants reviewing your business, you will love this show. As an executive who has, on multiple occasions, been forced to teach the business to these people, almost all of whom are actually younger and less experienced than those in this show, I can tell you that this is really what it is like.... with a bit of exaggeration about the drugs and sex to liven it up, of course. Real consultants spend countless hours on planes and in senseless meetings and phone calls with their clients as well. Nevertheless, when Don Cheadle speaks directly to the camera, he is giving a true lecture on Management Consulting that MIT or HBS could use in class. Cheadle's performance is brilliant as is Dawn Olivieri's as his borderline personality disordered ex-wife. The other characters at the office are also solid. The home scenes for me seem a bit off, I am unimpressed with the son and father characters, they seem like an after thought-room for improvement in the second season, I hope. Nevertheless, I would recommend you pour a Martini or Manhattan, sit back and get ready to laugh out loud.
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on May 15, 2012
Is This Why 75% of a Recent Yale MBA Class Applied to McKinsey & Company?

Then there is the follow up work that keeps on paying like an insurance residual! Welcome to the world of Management Consultants.

Marty (Don Cheadle), Jeannie (Kristen Bell) et al work for the #2 rated firm. Every week the team led by Marty travel to a different city to convince a business that they are the solution to whatever ails them. The goal is to sign the deal with a teaser/idea and then ink a long term contract for "after work".

What I really liked:

1.) Having seen management consultant firms in action, I always questioned the value of their ideas, when in most cases they had at best a basic understanding of what "my" business entailed? I have had some fun in this respect in the past

2.) The MA rating allows for no punches to be pulled. Constant sex, foul language and adult situations abound!

3.) Ever since Veronica Mars was prematurely cancelled, I had it on my short list to see Kristen Bell in another program where I could "see" Kristen Bell

4.) The first episode draws you in and is a particular favorite of mine as it culminates by outlining how a major lender can garner positive press by offering a modification program, which is essentially a "shell game"

Some of the story lines are uneven. Marty has a pill popping ex-wife (that happens to work for the #1 consulting firm) and a son that may be sexually ambiguous. Jeannie is engaged to a "Richie Rich", though is seemingly unsatisfied. Oh, there is also a potential merger that Marty opposes.

All in, this is a very good show with an excellent cast.
0Comment|16 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
Without a doubt, Showtime's "House of Lies" was one of my most eagerly awaited programs of 2012. Headlined by Don Cheadle and Kristen Bell, the previews for this blistering sitcom looked bawdy, over-the-top, and merciless. There's nothing that I enjoy more than brutal satire, dark humor, and pushing the boundaries of traditional television. So my expectations were through the roof. And for the most part, I was completely satisfied (if not instantly blown away) with the end result. By being on Showtime, "House of Lies" definitely makes the most of its adult situations with outrageous language, unrepentant viciousness, and frank sexual discussions and partnerships. In many ways, though, I felt "House of Lies" trying too hard to be provocative. Everything is done at such extremes, the program rarely settles enough to get you to actually care about its protagonists. They are a questionable bunch, to be sure, but I'd have appreciated a few more grounded moments amidst the mayhem to make the show feel a bit more well rounded. Don't get me wrong. I still thoroughly enjoyed this decidedly brutal comedy, it just lacked the fine tuning necessary to make it one of TV's best.

At its most successful, "House of Lies" skewers business culture, office politics, and the cutthroat nature of getting ahead at any cost. Cheadle plays a ruthless business consultant whose team includes Bell, Ben Schwartz, and Josh Lawson. This quartet is the backbone of the show and each episode showcases them finessing the art of the deal using unscrupulous tactics. The role of the business consultant can be varied, but essentially the team is looking to be hired to provide the outside expertise on any number of topics involving efficiency. They will do anything to secure the job and whatever it takes to keep the client satisfied. Although heightened for maximum humor, "House of Lies" actually paints a pretty convincing portrait of this environment! The show, as it progresses, also deals with changes within Cheadle's own firm that may compromise his position as a top dog earner. In these business negotiations, the camera often freezes the action so that Cheadle can school the viewer on the latest manipulation or corporate doublespeak. The dialogue itself is smart, witty, profane, and unexpectedly cutting. It is certainly not for someone with a sensitive constitution.

Cheadle is clearly having the time of his life. Completely unrestrained, he chews the scenery in every take and is wickedly funny. Bell, as an actress, seems to be finding her way and I wish someone would stop trying to make her the next Katherine Heigl in films. She was designed for edgier fare, and this absolutely suits what she should be doing. Smarmy Ben Schwartz gets some of the best lines (and he's perfecting this kind of jerk role) and his childish competitions with Lawson provide some of the show's most memorable moments. And as the dramatic stakes rise with Cheadle's future hanging in the balance, great character actors Griffen Dunne and Greg Germann get a chance to shine as corporate bigwigs. Seriously, anything having to do with a workplace setting really works.

I'm not as convinced, though, by the elements meant to humanize Cheadle. His home life is molded in the only-on-TV model with one of the most precocious, offbeat, and wizened TV kids that you're likely to encounter. I never much believed or cared about the aspects of his private life which never held the zing of the livelier segments. They also try to establish a romantic entanglement, but as she moves in almost immediately to raise his kid--nothing feels very organic. His ex-wife is played with ferocity by Dawn Olivieri (who is also a rival consultant) and the two are constantly at war. I like Olivieri, but this might be one plot point too many. When we're stuck in Cheadle's home life, we miss being at work! Although I didn't always love "House of Lies," I appreciated the chances that it took. As an adult comedy, it's not perfect. But it has huge potential, a great cast, and doesn't dumb itself down for mass consumption. My prediction: if you love the show, you'll really love it and if you don't, you'll really dislike it. But definitely try it for something original! KGHarris, 7/12.
0Comment|10 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on June 8, 2014
I really like this show, but I should warn you that it is part comedy and part tragedy. No matter how well things start to go, every episode seems to end with a metaphorical kick in the teeth. Still, it is a fun ride with despicable people whom you love to watch be despicable.
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on March 6, 2014
I like the show. It is definitely entertaining. The acting is really good. You can tell that Don Cheadle has a great time being Marty Kahn. The show is not for the feint at heart. There is A LOT of sex. Which I don't mind at all but I know a lot of people may get offended by it. It has a lot of crude humor, which once again, I enjoy. On the downside, I do have a hard time believing that all of these women would drop their panties for Marty Kahn, a management consultant. Kristen Bell is also great. Her character is believable and it's been entertaining watching her character evolve. Did I mention there's A LOT of sex?

What I can say is that it's different then anything on right now. The concept is great. They push the envelope with different issues that are going on in people's lives right now. From work place racism and sexism to the ups and downs of raising a child who is gay and proud of it! *snap*
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on January 23, 2016
This an almost "perfect" show to stream and binge watch.I'll admit, I never heard of this show before 2 weeks ago, but I was hooked after 2 episodes and have now watched all 2 season within a few days. I do get a little tired of the scuzzy back and forth between the 2 sub lieutenants in the pod, and wonder how the character played by Kristen put up with it, but she is showing her extraordinary acting abilities in this show. Don Cheadle is amazing, and his character definitely develops surprising strengths and weaknesses as the series goes along. This is a fresher and more interesting take on ad agencies and how they have morphed into these single minded attack teams. You might say there are some similarities here with George Cooney's character in UP where he aces himself out of a job and only gets sympathy for those he puts out of a job after his own life seems to shatter. But, I, looking forward to seeing Marty revived, after all he has garnered himself a large post-breakup list of clientele. I love my Kindle Fire for bringing me shows like this.
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on April 27, 2016
It's meant to be over-the-top cynical about the banking ethos in the US, and I usually love Don Cheadle, but this is ham-fisted, insipid, and overly sensational. For example, the pilot's constant stop-action while Cheadle step out of the freeze frame to explain all of his insights, is condescending at best, and just annoying at worst. Though they discarded that device after the pilot, they continue to "explain" things to the audience via conversations. What really pushed me away from this series (I think I abandoned after 4 episodes) was the implausible and yet strangely not hilarious sexual antics. These are designed to add spice the script and work a handy metaphor for the decadence that the owners of the US economy consider normal, but they are trite, uninteresting, and poorly wrought on the screen. The episode in which Cheadle's character and his female counterpart, Jeanie—played by Kristen Bell— go to dinner at the home of the CFO and his wife is painfully uninteresting. Cheadle has loud BDSM sex with the CFO's lonely wife, while the CFO, in a separate room, forces himself on Jeanie's toes. I know it sounds fantastic, but it is so unsubtly written and performed that I could go no further.
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on February 16, 2016
This show would definitely rank 5 stars if it weren't for all the very cliche moments. The problem starts with the core cast of characters. Token female on an all boys team. Nerd that everyone makes fun of. Ladies man. The boss you don't want to cross. While the show rises above this obvious turn-off there are still many scenes that just feel relived. Deja vu of TV if you will that is hard to get past.

Aside from that singular issue, the show is funny and has a fresh backstory. For the most part I like the writing and get a few laughs from each episode. The pilot caught me and now I want to watch each successive catastrophe and near miss unfold.

I really doubt I binge watch through every available episode as I have with other shows, but it has been fun so far.
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