Marty Kaan (Don Cheadle) and his gang of management consultants are back for a third season but after the events of season 2 the members of ‘the pod’ have gone their separate ways. Marty has finished setting up his own firm but he is struggling to get along with his new apprentices or continue the success he was having at Gallweather-Stearn. Meanwhile, Jeannie (Kristen Bell) and Doug (Josh Lawson) are still at the old firm continuing to be successful but they cannot stand the other members of their new group. Finally, Clyde (Ben Schwartz) is working for Marty’s psycho ex-wife Monica (Dawn Olivieri) and he is beginning to realise how big a mistake he has made. The ‘pod’ will inevitably reunite later is the season but, for now, the writers have done well to maintain the show’s tone and ensure that House of Lies is as funny as ever.
It is always a risk to split up a group in a show that relies so much on their on-screen chemistry but the new series of House of Lies has managed to do so successfully whilst giving the main characters a chance to express themselves individually. That may be due to the four new groups being almost carbon copies of the old one, meaning the constant childish interactions are still present, maintaining the show’s signature tone. Also, with Marty, Jeannie, Doug and Clyde all being miserable after the split viewers are given a chance to see another side of every character with Ben Schwartz’s Clyde benefiting the most from this.
Clyde has always been under developed as a character and his appearances are often limited to flirting outrageously with every female character or insulting Doug. He has gone from being high and mighty after beating Marty in season two’s finale to regretting his decisions whilst working for the psychotic Monica. The only female member of his pod is rejecting all of his advances, as her only wish is to impress her boss, denting Clyde’s confidence further. We have never seen Clyde seem reserved in any way but it is a refreshing change for a character that has developed very little over the last two years. It also gives Schwartz a chance to show off his undeniable talent more than has been possible before now.
It may only be one episode but House of Lies seems to be overcoming one of its biggest flaws. Over the first two seasons the show never stuck to a single genre and it could be: a workplace drama; a romantic comedy; a drama about family life and a corporate procedural in a single episode. This meant that it was often difficult to pin down where the show was going and what the viewers were actually supposed to care about. Now, though, House of Lies appears to have settled into a rhythm that focuses on the workplace lives of the four main characters with family life taking a back seat. That does not mean characters such as Marty’s son Roscoe are no longer important to the show but that their subplots are unlikely to take up long sections of episodes, and that can only be beneficial for the show’s future.
In short, it is a surprise that House of Lies may even be better now that the ‘pod’ has split up. The writers have managed to ensure the show is still funny and dramatic whilst fleshing out the characters and maintaining it’s signature tone and style. The ‘pod’ will inevitably be reunited as the season progresses but hopefully the episodes will continue to be as strong as this one.
House of Lies can be seen on Sky Atlantic, every Friday at 10:00pm.