15 October 2008 | Miles-10
The Best Show That (Practically) No One Is Watching
This is the best show on CW currently IMHO. Jeff Hephner reminds me a little of Matthew Fox on "Lost" and he could even carry this show, but he doesn't need to because the rest of the cast is so good.
The subject matter is off-putting. It's about seedy shylocks. If half the people who might otherwise watch this show owe money to such people themselves, why would they want to watch a show about them? Even so, you have to admire Morgan, Hephner's character, because he refuses to physically hurt anybody who owes money. Instead, he uses psychology and, yes, under-handed trickery to get money from his customers. The trouble is that you see the look on their faces, and you know that even though he didn't break their bones, he hurt them all the same. (In the case of a customer named Yapp, there is nothing subtle about his pain, he is comically over the top with it.) Making Morgan sympathetic would seem a hard sell, but this show does make him seem like someone who is in a dirty business who nevertheless tries hard to keep it as clean as he can. Maybe the addition of the Mamayo brothers to the cast of characters helps: these rival loan sharks are NOT above breaking a deadbeat customer's legs. Even Morgan's crooked mother seems honest compared to them.
Against this unhappy drama, the comic aspect of the show is of such a dry nature that when I was asked if the show is funny, I had to think about it. Yes, it is funny, but so was the Sopranos right up until Tony murdered someone with his bare hands in an early episode. The grim subject matter of "Easy Money" is so, well, grim, that the dry humor, which is funny when it happens, is forced into the back seat by the high stakes drama. Morgan doesn't really want to do what he is doing or be who he has been as long as he can remember. In the second episode, his friend who works at the mall's book store tells Morgan that what he is agonizing over is an opportunity to become whatever he wants to be. Apparently the friend has heard Morgan express the desire before to leave his way of life before, but he has always thought he was trapped by his family ties.
The people Morgan deals with are either crooked or miserable or both. There is humor in their behavior, but it is sad. A lot of them are too stupid to know that they are doomed. Their antics are only comical as long as you forget that, in the long run, they will end tragically.
All of that is reason to understand misgivings about this show, but it so well done that the show rises above the material. Both episodes seen so far have been as good or, often, better than what is on the big networks.
Don't write this show off without giving it a chance.