Showtime’s ‘House of Lies’ Doesn’t Lie [Advance Review]

Showtime’s brand new half hour series, House of Lies, premieres tonight and they promise to tell you the whole truth about what it’s like to be a management consultant.

The series focuses on Martin Kihn (Don Cheadle) a highly-successful and charismatic but very flawed consultant and his team including sharp-witted Jeannie Van Der Hooven (Kristen Bell), womanizer Clyde Oberholt (Ben Schwartz), and awkward but sweet Doug Guggenheim (Josh Lawson), as they land big corporate clients from America’s 1 percent.

But that’s only part of it, we also meet Martin’s crazy ex-wife, Monica Talbot (Dawn Olivieri), who incidentally works in a rival firm, and their effeminate son Roscoe (Donis Leonard Jr.), pretty much raised by Martin’s father.

On its face, the premise sounds interesting but could really go either way, and that’s where ‘House of Lies’ wins. If you’ve seen Showtime’s shows before, you know that they create quality television and this is no exception. Within one episode you will be hooked. In fact, I watched the first three episodes sent to us back to back because I couldn’t stop after one. And it only gets better.

What I absolutely loved about ‘House of Lies’ is its format. The story isn’t rolled in a straightforward manner, instead Martin not only talks to the audience explaining some management consulting concepts as they are applying them and also tends to give stares to the camera (and the audience) here and there. If you’ve ever seen the British series Hustle, then this might seem familiar, it’s pretty similar to Mickey explaining a con technique. It’s pretty brilliant.

In addition to an interesting format, ‘House of Lies’ brings us a team with four very different, yet very intriguing characters. While we get to see more of Martin and his issues, we also start finding out more about the rest of the team in future episodes. While she might seem to have her head on her shoulder, Jeannie (Bell) can also party and go with the flow when needed, even if the flow is quite… let’s say peculiar. Doug (Lawson) is so adorable in his awkwardness and gets teased a lot by the team for his unusual habits. I think he’s one of my favorites. And Clyde (Schwartz), whom I can’t wait to find a bit more about except for the part that he’s pretty brilliant at closing the deal.

Finally, let’s not forget the cast who brings all these characters alive. Don Cheadle, well should I even say it, I mean I was pretty much sold when I heard he was going to be in the show and he’s as brilliant as I thought he would be (award season better watch out for him). And of course Kristen Bell whom I don’t think I can be objective about because I’m such a huge fan, but yes, she’s pretty great. Ben Schwartz aka “Jean-Ralphio” in Parks and Recreation, come on, how can you not love him?! As for Josh Lawson, I’ll admit that I wasn’t familiar with him, but it only took one episode for him to win me over as Doug.

So let’s recap, ‘House of Lies’ has great writing, an interesting format, and a fantastic cast, isn’t that what we look for in a show? It is officially one of my new favorites this 2011-2012 season and you shouldn’t miss it when it premieres tonight, January 8th at 10pm on Showtime.