LIVING IN A REAL WORLD
HOUSE OF LIES: How Do We Foreclose?
By Danny Schechter, Author of The Crime Of Our Time
If you go to the corner of 8th Avenue and 42nd Street near Times Square in Manhattan, just down from the Wax Museum and around the corner from the bus station, and look up, you'll see an oversized billboard for Showtime's, fast -paced "House of Lies," a new cable TV series that is more like a realistic docudrama about the world of hard-charging management consultants.
Don Cheadle stars in this tightly written challenge to the popular Mad Men glorification of Madison Avenue in the 1950's, spiced with the insertion of pretty graphic hot sex that makes Janet Jackson's Superbowl moment seem like it belonged on the Disney Channel. An actor on the series laughingly downplays the explicit physical grappling as "naughty."
At a time when Mitt Romney, a former management consultant himself in his years at Bain, is running for president, this show offers insight into just how vulgar vulgar capitalism can be.
In one scene, the team headed by Cheadle who plays the superslick Marty Kaan (a.k.a. "King Kaan") is pitching a bank president on how to win over the public by offering no interest loans and guarantees to keep customers in their homes.
When his prospective client rejects the idea, it is explained that very few of his customers will end up" qualifying" for the "benefit" which is designed as a phony image-enhancer to allow him and his cronies to take big bonuses without any criticism.
When he understands that he can get richer by appearing socially responsible, he hires the team.
It's all a clever flim-flam, but sounds suspiciously like what most of the big banks did when pedaling fraudulent loans.
The Internet Motion Picture Data Base calls the series, " a subversive, scathing look at a self-loathing management consultant from a top-tier firm. Marty, a highly successful, cutthroat consultant is never above using any means (or anyone) necessary to get his clients the information they want."
Cheadle's work in this series is very political even as it is promoted as only entertainment, and comedy.
Perhaps that is why snarky reviewers in such high level publications like Entertainment Weekly attack it by acknowledging that the issues it raises are appropriate, but. of course, not the way they raise them.
Ken Tucker writes, " And at this time in history, who doesn't want to see undeservingly wealthy people get fleeced, or at least brought low by their avarice? In practice, however, House of Lies becomes a zero-sum game: Creeps conning creeps, and the creeps we're supposed to root for -- Cheadle's gang at Galweather & Stearn, led by their boss, The West Wing "s Richard Schiff -- don't seem all that much more interesting than the clients they're gouging."
Au contraire. New York Magazine gets closer to the truth by writing:
"Marty and his clients portray the one percent at their very worst: "You look at the pilot and go, "Man, these guys helped these a**holes be happier and keep doing their business,' " says Cheadle. "But they give themselves the out that "we're not the ones doing it. They're doing it. We're just helping them do it better.'"
"The timing, between Occupy Wall Street and the presidential election, couldn't be better for a sendup of corporate amorality and the kind of M.B.A. capitalism Mitt Romney, at Bain & Co., helped perfect."