Sunday, February 10, 2019

REVIEW: 'Black Monday' - Mo Takes Blair on a Wild Adventure While Keith Tries to Keep Everyone Happy in '339'

Showtime's Black Monday - Episode 1.03 "339"

Mo attempts to create a father/son bond with Blair. Dawn and Spencer have a lively dinner with Dawn's parents. Keith finds his secret increasingly difficult to hide.

In 2018, there were 495 scripted shows airing amongst the linear channels and streaming services. The way people are consuming content now is so different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, there is less necessity to provide ample coverage of each specific episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site is making the move to shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the next episode of Showtime's Black Monday.

"339" was written by Jim Brandon & Brian Singleton and directed by Charles Stone III

There is such an over-the-top performative component to Black Monday. All of the main characters are inherently selfish. Everything they do is to serve their own agenda. As such, every single interaction sees them putting on some kind of a face in the hopes of getting the other person to do exactly what they want. It's what informs many of the dynamics on the show. Mo is honest with his trading partners. They are in on his plans for the Georgina Jean Company. However, Dawn is the one who has to keep them all focused on the meeting they should be having as well as the fact that they have to keep their purchases a secret for now because they don't have the strength to takeover the company. That means Mo, Dawn and Keith all have to find someone in their personal lives to pass these stocks to with the understanding that they will buy them back in a few months without it being a big deal. Of course, it will be because they'll be backstabbing them in the process. As such, everyone is just putting on a brave face to close the deal not caring who gets hurt in the process. That's the way that this firm conducts its best. If it's good for them, it's great. It doesn't matter how much they get hurt personally so long as they continue to make a ton of money. But all of this makes it so difficult to care about any of the individual relationships or characters because it's hard to track what is actually meaningful. Everything pertaining to Mo and Blair's crazy night out together is a performance. Mo is trying to woo Blair just like he would a date. He wants to be seen as a father figure to him even though he refuses to admit that he is a middle-aged man. He wants Blair to love and respect him so much that he will sell him his shares in the Georgina Jean Company. That's the underlying motivation throughout all of this. Meanwhile, Blair just wants to be liked and get a promotion. He wants to provide for his wife even though Tiff is quick to spend her family money like it's no big deal whatsoever. As such, they increasingly come across as an unstable couple. They may only stay together because Mo will need to manipulate them into doing so. That's the only thing he truly cares about at the moment. And so, he concocts a story about being a poor orphan who miraculously got a job at the diner that Blair has wanted to try since he moved to his apartment. That's just too convenient and further proves just how much a showman Mo is. But again, there seems to be moments where the show just wants to be outrageous to see what it can get away with. And so, Mo and Blair witness someone be killed by the state followed by a montage of them snorting cocaine. It's all crazy but there is nothing really too deep under the surface that adds any nuance to the situation. Meanwhile, Dawn explains to her parents that it's because of their hippie ways that she feels like she deserves to make as much money as she can. She is perfectly fine flaunting that because she knows exactly what she's doing. She is eager to make a big show. Plus, Spencer is such a sap. There is no follow-up to him learning about her past with Mo. Instead, he is right there signing the paperwork for Dawn. And finally, more time is spent on Keith's affair with another man. However, it comes across as such a stereotypical story of a man refusing to leave his wife despite how unhappy he is and how demanding she is. It's a story that is only really enjoyable because of Melissa Rauch's committed accent work. But there is no depth to her character beyond a stock character trope. As such, Keith admitting his feelings to Mike despite previously stealing from him and falling down the stairs doesn't land because the audience simply can't trust any of these characters at their word because of how crazy things will always be with them. That's just extremely difficult to build a show around.