A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What 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.
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.
Talk to your kids 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?