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Case Number 26977

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House of Lies: The Second Season

Showtime Entertainment // 2013 // 340 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // February 15th, 2014

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All Rise...

Judge David Johnson lies in his house.

Editor's Note

Our reviews of House of Lies: The Third Season (published January 27th, 2015), House of Lies: The Fourth Season (published April 16th, 2016), and House of Lies: The First Season (published January 9th, 2013) are also available.

The Charge

Pants on fire.

Opening Statement

This stylish, sultry corporate comedy returns for a follow-up to an underwhelming first season. Does the sophomore effort raise its game?

Facts of the Case

Marty Kaan (Don Cheadle, Iron Man 2) is still the man. As one of the most ruthless and sought-after management consultants, he's smack in the middle of some of the biggest deals, making bank and banging hotties. His latest venture gets him in the casino business, and in it he sees a potential career-altering strategy.

Meanwhile, his colleagues are tackling their own life-changing issues: Jeannie (Kristen Bell, Veronica Mars) is dealing with a tumultuous love life; Clyde (Ben Schwartz) confronts the human consequences of his money-grubbing; and Doug (Josh Lawson) meets his dream girl.

The Evidence

I think this show is pretty brutal, but I'd be a hypocrite if I said I hated watching it. It manages to keep my attention throughout, even though I did sort of hate myself for it. Well, that might be overstating things a bit; House of Lies isn't garbage mechanically. The production is stylish, the actors are top-shelf and you can tell there was through put into the writing and plotting.

Where the series faltered was two-fold: 1) it wasn't funny and 2) there wasn't a likable character within eyesight. That's a tough summit to crest if you want to deliver a respectable thirty minutes of small-screen entertainment. The first season? Total failure in both respects. The second season? Total failure in both respects.

Calling House of Lies a "comedy" is employing the word far too liberally than it was designed. There are smarmy elements, but this show is more soap than anything. So, you know, I'll let complaint number one slide. The show is not funny; but I'm not entirely sure that's the point.

The characters? Yeah, I'd assume the writers did want us to give half a crap about their lot in life. If that's the point, then the scope of the show's failure is staggering. Not a single one these stiffs bring anything worthwhile to the table:

This season, Marty looks at leveraging his infamy into a new professional venture while also dealing with his son Roscoe and his suddenly freeloading younger brother. He's smart and cunning, but pretty far up his own tailpipe and can't stop turning to the camera and breaking the fourth wall. I feel this irritating trope was dialed down from the last season, but it happens enough to remind you that the leading man is a dink.

She's supposedly the firm's greatest high-riser, but all Jeannie does this season is attempt to fight through a drunken haze to figure out if she banged Marty at the end of last season. Also, she starts dating a sex toy manufacturer. Frankly, the great Kristen Bell is utterly wasted here. Any of her innate charm is stamped out thanks to the ham-fisted writing. She's also supposed to be this genius consultant, but I can't recall anything she did that was particularly clever.

In Parks and Recreation, Ben Schwartz plays Jean-Ralphio, an oblivious douchebag. In House of Lies, Ben Schwartz plays Clyde, an oblivious douchebag. But where the former is awesome and hilarious because he's an over-the-top parody, the latter is terrible because he's just as douchey, but straight. It's actually pretty remarkable: Schwartz is essentially playing the same character; one just might be the funniest creation on TV and the other the most annoying. We're talking a matter of degrees here, people.

Doug is a not a real person. He makes no decision a functioning human would make, much less a professional consultant.

Actually, none of these detestable morons are real. And when the writers hint at putting them into positions where their smallness is revealed (Jeannie's blind date, Clyde tying a man's death to a deal eh worked), the repercussions are glossed over and it's back to partying and pimping. Are we supposed to be pulling for these ass-clowns?

Twelve episodes, two discs, 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, Dolby Digital 5.1 and cast commentaries on two episodes.

Closing Statement

Perhaps we are supposed to live vicariously through these people? I'd rather live vicariously through a gerbil being digested by a python.

The Verdict

You're fired.

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Scales of Justice

Video: 90
Audio: 90
Extras: 70
Acting: 75
Story: 60
Judgment: 62

Perp Profile

Studio: Showtime Entertainment
Video Formats:
• 1.78:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (Spanish)
• English
Running Time: 340 Minutes
Release Year: 2013
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
• Comedy
• Drama
• Television

Distinguishing Marks

• Commentaries


• IMDb

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