Shame. It’s a house of shame, obviously
House of Lies Season 1 Episode 7 recap
So this is TV. While movies historically have been used to tell stories about the fantastic, incredible people who existed only in our wishes or trumped-up, watercoloured memories, television was always supposed to show people watching who they were. Who they are. It’s why movies take place on other planets and television shows take place in living rooms.
But not everyone likes this window into their houses, of course. A lot of people prefer to see everything shiny, happy, and light. And so to trick them, you call it humor or satire. But the best humor and satire makes you realize you’re looking at yourself.
House Of Lies is not a perfect show. But it’s working really hard to tell us the story of Marty, a guy who has absolutely no scruples about screwing over all kinds of people in his work environment, but who is, for whatever reason, trying to be a person in his personal life. Not just because we see him committing to no sex for a full few days away (and are we supposed to believe Marty was a sex addict who would otherwise have banged Brenda? Or is he allowed to have some taste in the matter? I know he said he’s done her a bunch, but he seemed…not interested, at best) but because we know things about his family. We care about Roscoe and the threat that a custody battle poses. We worry about Grandpa’s Parkinson’s. Dammit, we even like April making various meals in the box-in-the-sky apartment. Or at least I did, and I didn’t particularly want to. But I find the actress ridiculously endearing.
So as usual, while Clyde and Doug are comic relief (despite showing us that Clyde, anyway, is worried about his job), it’s Jeannie who has to walk the line of being Marty’s protégé. Every day she makes decisions about him. Should she follow his brilliance and go towards ‘Daddy’s’ money? What is this persistent worry she keeps having? This…conscience of hers?
To be clear, I think Jeannie suffers from what a lot of us do in the workplace – the utter shock that your boss is asking you to do what he is, and then the silent one-on-ones with yourself. Are you doing this? Can you actually live with yourself if you do? Sleeping with someone on Marty’s say-so isn’t in Jeannie’s moral code. Roofie-ing her is (and somewhere, Veronica Mars is PISSED right now).
But when it all came to a head at the end – when Jeannie was right, and Marty tap-danced for Graeme Chase – I wanted her to be a little more vindicated. To feel better – that she’d drawn an accurate line in the sand – or worse, that she shoved her feelings down and then they were proven right. That’s the most nauseating workplace feeling. hat you knew that wasn’t right but went along with it anyway. And yet, she seems content, at the end…even though last week she told Marty what a f*cker he is.
To me I guess, this is what’s missing from the show. Every week they want Marty to change, and clearly he does by the end of each episode – looking at himself in a mirror, either literally or metaphorically. But then at the beginning of the next …no continuum of terrible-person-to-successful-consultant graph.
Is this speaking to anyone else? Am I in a bubble here? Please feedback me. Terrible people shouldn’t mean terrible show, but I’m not sure who we’re hoping on. And even though Cheadle is so unfailingly charming, neither is the show.