House of Lies



Adults-only dramedy revels in sex, lies, and manipulation.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Manipulation is a common theme -- and a regular business practice -- while money is the major motivator. There's also a sense that most characters would pursue success at any cost.

Positive role models

Characters lie, manipulate, and use sex to get what they want, typically with few negative consequences. The main character does show a softer side as a father who seems to care about his son, but it's a little-seen aspect of his personality.


Physical violence includes punching, fist fights, etc. Minimal blood.


Visible nudity, including bare breasts and buttocks. Characters also have simulated sex on camera with multiple partners (including lesbian sex and violent sex that involves choking) and use sexually charged terms like "angry-bang," "getting head," etc.


Frequent unbleeped swearing includes "f--k" in all its forms (including "motherf--ker"), "s--t," "c--t," "t-t," "c--k," "cl-t," and "c-m." Characters also use labels like "slut," "nancy boy," and "homo."


A few logos are visible in the background, including MasterCard.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Characters binge drink and use hallucinogenic drugs to blow off steam -- and sometimes entertain clients.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this adult-oriented dramedy runs on a steady stream of sex and unbleeped language. That means you'll see bare breasts and buttocks, as well as characters -- particularly the main character -- having sex with multiple partners; you'll also hear words like "motherf--ker," "s--t," "c--k," and "c--t." Characters binge drink and use drugs recreationally, too, and occasionally resort to physical violence.

Parents say

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What's the story?

Based on Martin Kihn's no-holds-barred memoir chronicling his time at a top-tier consulting firm, HOUSE OF LIES centers on a skilled team of management consultants -- led by hotshot closer Marty Kaan (Don Cheadle) -- who spend their days crisscrossing the country in pursuit of corporate clients and billable hours. Members of the team include ambitious player Jeannie Van Der Hooven (Kristen Bell), womanizing prankster Clyde Oberholt (Ben Schwartz), and Harvard grad Doug Guggenheim (Josh Lawson). Meanwhile, Marty's battling his ex-wife Monica (Dawn Oliveri) for important clients -- and custody of their cross-dressing son, Roscoe (Donis Leonard Jr.)

Is it any good?


On first viewing, the pilot episode of House of Lies feels a bit like a briefcase to the head, propelled by so much sex and unbleeped language that you naturally wonder whether that's the only thing the series is about. But as the rest of the story begins to take shape, a far more interesting character study emerges that gives lead actor Cheadle some great material to work with.

It's jarring at first to see him tackle the role, since he's typically cast in kindler, gentler parts (see: Boogie Nights, Hotel Rwanda). But, in the end, Cheadle's take on the shark-skinned Marty is effective enough to make us hate him -- which is actually the point.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how the show's presence on pay cable allows it to push the envelope when it comes to language and sexual content. What would the show look like if it were to air on network television? How would it have to change?

  • Does hearing so much unbleeped swearing and seeing so much onscreen sex dilute the impact of what you're seeing and hearing? Are the show's writers deliberately pushing the envelope when it comes to language and sex, or are the characters merely written as a reflection of the way real people behave?

  • How accurately do you think the show portrays the world of management consulting? What are the real-life consequences of these characters' actions?

TV details

Cast:Ben Schwartz, Don Cheadle, Kristen Bell
TV rating:TV-MA
Available on:DVD, Streaming
Award:Golden Globe

This review of House of Lies was written by

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Teen, 16 years old Written byjm97 March 26, 2013


This is a really great dramedy series for ADULTS ONLY. Intense swearing, full-frontal nudity, and sex all occur in 32 minutes. It's a really great show, but put the kids to bed first.
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much consumerism
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking


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