House of Lies Seasons 1 & 2

House of Lies is a satirical drama depicting the lives of management consultants – Don Cheadle and Kristen Bell star as two of the above, schmoozing, backstabbing, and sleeping their way into million-dollar deals and trying to beat the other management consulting firm (number one in the business) – “McKinsley”.

The series is based on a book by an ex-Booz Allen Hamilton (which is um, not one of the top tier firms), but the TV series plays a bit fast and loose with practice (teams are formed for projects and disperse afterwards – there’s no such thing as a “pod”) and terminology (“counselled out” refers to a consultant being asked to leave, not the firm being fired by the client).

Nevertheless  the most coveted job in industry (perhaps rivalled by investment banking) is a glitzy, high-stakes setting for the shenanigans that develop. Marty Kaan (Cheadle) fights his sociopathic ex-wife (who works at McKinsley) not only for filthy rich corporate clients, but over parenting their kid as well. His father and later brother see him as a neglectful sellout, and his workplace is full of sharks who will sell him down the river to get ahead.

I’m a sucker for shows about corporate skulduggery, and House of Lies is a fun, larger-than-life look into that cynical world. There’s plenty of mockery (clients are uniformly obnoxious, dangerous, but in the end suckers) and humorous asides (the son’s totally inappropriate school dance), and basically no one can be trusted – least of all Kaan himself. Kaan’s ex-wife Monica is a particularly amusing character – she repeatedly turns up naked trying to seduce Kaan and chuckles at everything, because nothing matters to her.

The first season roughly covers one project per episode, with multiple ongoing threads – though I found the final resolution too pat. The second season loosens up, with projects unfolding over multiple episodes. I recommend this series if you like the subject and don’t wish to hang on to your hope in humanity.

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