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Monday, January 27, 2014

Power Moves and Heightened Ambition on Sunday's 'House of Lies'

"I will not hesitate to throw you under the bus if it serves me in the future."--Jeannie (Kristen Bell)

While House of Lies is entertaining to watch and chock full of witty one-liners, many of which are delivered by the great Don Cheadle as business shark Marty Kaan, the show is known less for its plot and more on its focus on characterization. But in the latter half of season 2, and now in season 3, we've seen the series grow to become more of a theme-driven show. In other words, it's filled with interesting takeaways even when it skimps on story development.

Take for instance, last night's episode titled "Boom" which featured Jeannie (Kristen Bell) getting the upper hand on Marty, much to his chagrin and genuine surprise. After last week's episode, which ended with Galweather & Stearn CEO Julianne (Bess Armstrong) coercing Jeannie into confessing to her who's been gabbing about her behind her back, resulting in Gil (John Carroll Lynch) getting fired, the latest episode sees Gil returning to G&S with a satisfied look on his face as Julianne is ushered out of the company carrying loose items from her office and her tail between her legs. To Jeannie's shock, Gil is back with Jeannie's ex-lover Marco (Griffin Dunne) in tow. With both men having risen in power feeling very proud of themselves, Jeannie is forced to make power moves of her own that helps her win the coveted Department of Defense account. Well played, Jeannie.

Meanwhile, Monica (Dawn Olivieri) is completely inebriated on her own power, becoming a total monster in to all her employees. So much so that one of them, Christy (Milana Vayntrub), stabs her in the leg. It's interesting to see the dichotomy in power between Monica and Jeannie. Jeannie is slick and polish and very, very sneaky. On the other hand, Monica is flamboyant, messy, but a vixen in the boardroom. She uses flagrant aggression and emotion to succeed professionally, while Jeannie is cool, calm and collective, silently eyeing her next conquest.

It's also fascinating to see this female depiction of power balanced with the way Marty is handling his new position--nurturing his family life at home with his father and son, a thriving career and an enviable social life. He's seemingly got that "having it all" memo and applied it to his own life. However, Jeannie is putting all her energy into her job, stepping over toes and climbing up the corporate ladder and approaching her narrow social life in the same sense--like it's something to conquer and not covet. But even though the two butt heads professionally, they finally acknowledge that their ambitions are one in the same and agree to collaborate on the Colossal/Free Range accounts. That's a win/win for both of them.

It's interesting to watch each character take on power in his or her unique way, highlighting the one theme of the show that has remained steady since the series opener--power.

House of Lies airs on Sunday nights at 10pm on Showtime.


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