'House of Lies' Review: How Cool Is Too Cool?
'House of Lies' Review: How Cool Is Too Cool?
Laurel Brown
Laurel Brown
Senior Writer, BuddyTV
House of Lies can't help but be good.

The show has a winning premise, the best actors imaginable and a solid home on Showtime. It's funny, edgy and quite entertaining. If only House of Lies didn't know just how cool it is, the show might be perfect.

As it is, House of Lies tends to get a little bit cocky.

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Not that the show doesn't have things to be cocky about. The cast of is to die for -- Oscar-nominee Don Cheadle stars, supported by a host of beloved TV actors including Kristen Bell (Veronica Mars), Ben Schwartz (Jean-Ralphio from Parks and Recreation) and Greg Germann (Ally McBeal). We're talking about actors that would be entertaining even with the most boring premise -- I would watch Don Cheadle and Kristen Bell sit in an empty room, reading phone books.

House of Lies definitely does not have a boring premise. The show focuses on a group of high-end management consultants led by Cheadle's Marty Kaan. They're slick professionals who basically con small fortunes out of corporations desperate for a quick fix. When even boardroom meetings turn into performance art, there's nothing boring about that.

Want to watch the House of Lies premiere now? Click here for Showtime's YouTube version.

The fun continues in the off-hours, when the consultants run up bills at their clients' expense -- think strip clubs and super-expensive sushi -- while mocking the very premise of their careers. It's a satisfying takedown of this country's much-despised corporate overlords.

So what's the problem? Simply put, House of Lies is too cool for its own good.

The show knows it too. Because House of Lies will air on Showtime, the actors can engage in graphic sex, extensive swearing and every other bad behavior. And they never miss a chance to remind us of this. Do we need to see characters engaging in acrobatic bathroom-sex? No. But House of Lies can give this to us, so it does.

It's not just on the salacious side that exhibits House of Lies' too-coolness. The show's one glaring weak point occurs when Marty Kaan breaks away from the action to address the camera directly. While it's helpful to learn the jargon of the management consulting world, it's also kind of annoying. House of Lies would do better with more story and less dictionary.

The coolness of House of Lies even prevents getting to know a stunning supporting cast. Kristen Bell's Jeannie gets in a few lines, but Marty's other underlings -- Ben Schwartz's Clyde and Josh Lawson's Doug -- almost fade into the background.

But none of this is disastrous for House of Lies. The show still works, and it's very much worth watching. Having watched a few episodes beyond the pilot, I was pleased to see a marked decrease in Marty's camera-talks, while the supporting players become more prominent.

If you're cool with over-the-top coolness, you may just love House of Lies. Even if you do have issues with just how cool the show is, House of Lies is worthy of some patience.

After all, House of Lies is legitimately cool. And we can't let this cast go to waste.

House of Lies premieres on Sunday, January 8 at 10pm.

(Image courtesy of Showtime)


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