When word came that Ballers was coming to HBO, I was pretty damn stoked. Game of Thrones isn’t for me. It’s about wizards, right? – Just not my bag. The Newsroom was so ham-handed that I lost interest. Those other HBO offerings never got me excited, But Ballers! I mean – its Ballers! Let’s throw together things I really like and produce it slickly. Good job, HBO. I really don’t know what it is. I love its essence, the idea of it. From what I gather The Rock (Dwayne Johnson to you, but to men of a certain age he will always be The Rock) is an ex-football player in Miami and…I guess its HBO so F-bombs and boobs. I like me some Project Runway and documentaries on The Passionate Eye. After the end of Letterman, Charlie Rose tucks me in bed some nights. It makes me feel high falutin. I’m so fancy, we already know. But little had me jacked as the concept of Ballers. But I dropped the ball. I don’t have HBO. I don’t know if I would be able to take Ballers a week at a time. I would need a good binge. The scuttlebutt on the street and blogsphere is that Ballers is this generation’s Entourage, an egregiously hyper male program illuminating all the negatives of wealth and machismo, But at this point I know I will love it. I have taken to it like my favorite sports team. Despite how bad they play or their on and off field blunders, I’ll still cheer ’em on. Blindly, with it resembling a relationship with nicotine. – some minor glimmers of enjoyment outweighed by a hulking morass. So I’m not going to write about Ballers because I have not seen it. But it’s awesome. The Rock wears a linen suit. Does Kimmy Schmidt wear any kind of linen? I really don’t know haven’t seen that either.
The program that I have been watching intently is Consumed on CNBC. It’s a reality show about various restaurants in New York City. It reminds me more of a Canadian business show Venture than standard reality fare. Venture would follow small Canadian business’ and watch them grow and struggle and not ultimately succeed or sometimes, just get by. Often they would go out of business. There were some feel good stories but failure was common too. It was more a look at the brutality of entrepreneurship. Consumed is far better produced but captures that slogging spirit. The show ping-pongs back and fourth between a few restaurants and how they try and make it in the cut throat NYC food racket. The main theme is how awful it is to run a restaurant. The stars of the show are the owners of the “Meatball shop”. A hipster causal dining spot that got momentum and now they have several locations around the big apple. Dan and Mike had business get hot, trendy, and successful. But now its initial buzz has quieted. Copycats surrounded them and quality of the original location is suffering. Mike is the paunchy, nebbish, control freak. Lack of sleep and stress have left him bald and heavy, but he is bright and diligently working on the business. Dan is a character out of Ballers. Slightly douchey, as he has taken to Adam Levine as his fashion beacon. He’s the rock star-esque handsome charming fast talker. He builds the hype and gets the glory and Mike toils away. They were friends when it all started, but Dan wanted to go national and Mike wants to keep calm and carry on. Mike’s jealousy is all round the show. They both work hard at the restaurant as it slowly beats them down. Eventually Dan splits to try and run a hipster seafood restaurant. And we watch his struggle at being the only boss. Trading in suits for his skinny jeans , he is now in the awful world of building a business from scratch – where his looks and style can only get him so far.
The other business is a self-made woman who we are supposed to cheer on as a plucky underdog. She doesn’t trust banks so she keeps her money under her mattress until she runs out and has to get loans. Melba, owner of the joint of the same name has her struggle to write a cook book with a history of just eye balling recipes. There are feuding Italian brothers trying to keep a third generation Italian place going, with the stereotypically Italian “ma” doting about. The Italians were pushed to the side several episodes in to make room for Rohini Dei and her restaurant Vermilion. A high end Indian/Spanish fusion spot. She is ethnically ambiguous and I don’t mean to draw the ire of Beyoncé, but she is bossy. She has no people skills and operates the restaurant the same as if it were a widget factory, coal mine, gulag.. etc. She is not portrayed as the villain, but she is quite unlikeable. She is a looker though with an ambiguous Gabor/Huffington/Sgt Deklerk-esque accent. She is attractive in her cold bloodedness. She says the word “brusk” a lot in a manner that I enjoy. The villain itself is New York. Our heroes’ everyday fights with this loud and dirty city. Deal with its utility troubles and tangle with real estate vultures. There is little in terms of NYC glamour shots. It’s not quite the Charles Bronson out for revenge New York. It’s not dangerous, but it is lumbering and unforgiving. . Nowhere are my favorite sights of TV NYC – where hoboes play chess in the park, wickedly talented street musicians rock out in the subways, very well dressed people buy newspapers at kiosks, avuncular deli owners make sandwiches that almost collapse on themselves and such. Here the city is a ball of endless construction noise and large city trucks air braking haphazardly. The restaurateurs are always frazzled and tired. We learn the 900,00$ isn’t that much. The city comes across as a big ugly bully in more ways than I am used to on TV. I’m just fine with that. My main fascination is the operators themselves. Why would anyone do such a thing? You are throwing a dinner party, every day, all day – for strangers. Those who pursue such a folly are destined to have their frustration be my entertainment. Unless season two has a Ballers themed restaurant. Than that would be baddass .The best restaurant since Fuddruckers.
Raphael Saray is an aspiring househusband who wears formal attire to office staff meetings as parody of the lack of formal attire that is commonplace for the office.