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Don Cheadle is Back on Showtime With ‘Black Monday’

The winning comedic partnership that gave the world ‘House of Lies’ could have another hit in the works.
Don Cheadle House Of Lies
By  · Published on June 15th, 2018

The winning comedic partnership that gave the world ‘House of Lies’ could have another hit in the works.

Don Cheadle hit the comedy jackpot during his tenure on Showtime’s House of Lies. His five-season run showcased a different side of his acting persona than anything his most famous blockbusters and performance-driven drama films have delivered. In House of Lies, Cheadle is front and center, demonstrating an uncanny knack for the most biting of black comedy. He earned the Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy in 2012. He was subsequently nominated for two more Globes and three Emmys over the course of the show’s run.

House of Lies officially came to an end in 2016, but evidently Showtime thoroughly intends to keep Cheadle in-house. And honestly, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. The spark and chemistry of a phenomenal team-up is undeniable, and when a network establishes that kind of trust with a leading performer, I’m willing to bet that good things will come along down the pipeline.

Variety reports that Showtime is going all in on another Cheadle comedy vehicle, Black Monday, which will also star Andrew Rannells (Girls) and Regina Hall (Girls Trip). Initially ordered as a pilot titled Ball Street last year, Showtime has picked up Black Monday for a 10-episode first season, which is due to air in 2019.

Black Monday will take some artistic liberties in depicting the cause of the fateful stock market crash of 1987. The eponymous Black Monday, which fell on October 19, 1987, marked the worst crash in the history of Wall Street. Although multiple possible causes have been cited as explanations for the market’s decline, including program trading and overvaluationBlack Monday seems intent on creating more of a good old underdog story. The show will portray a group of outliers led by Cheadle who work to dismantle the elitism of Wall Street in what Showtime president and CEO David Nevins characterizes as a “scathing comic commentary on the excess of the ’80s.”

Already, there are some welcome differences between Black Monday and House of Lies from the get-go. A narrative about outsiders facing down the system is certainly worlds away from a story about a man who is very much a part of the one-percent. House of Lies focuses on the cutthroat business of management consulting and is anything but idealistic. Its indulgence in the morally corrupt makes the show so gruesomely entertaining yet effective in its commentary. Nevertheless, House of Lies is also strangely grounded in themes of family – in terms of both bloodline and office camaraderie. Despite these factors being a winning combination, I wouldn’t say no to a show that at least sounds more earnest either; one with clearer parameters for its ambitious rewriting of history.

Like House of Lies, Black Monday will most likely hinge much of its appeal on having a stellar cast. Cheadle proved himself a force to be reckoned with when leading the former. As House of Lies protagonist Marty Kaan, he is fearlessly unlikeable. Marty is ruthless and egotistical, but undoubtedly very good at his job. Yet he has a conflicted relationship with his father and son and shows a sense of skewed loyalty towards his core team (played by Kristen Bell, Ben Schwartz, and Josh Lawson).

The role of Marty may be Cheadle at his most ruthless. However, his approach to all his characters seems to remain the same. Cheadle brings a kind of unflinching commitment to all of his roles. He could be playing the uncompromisingly loyal Rhodey in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, any one of his iconic biopic transformations (you have The Rat Pack, Hotel Rwanda, and Miles Ahead to choose from), or someone in his Steven Soderbergh catalogue. Regardless, Cheadle takes the job seriously enough to commit to any amount of ridiculousness or seriousness necessary to get the job done. It’s how he’s so consistently good in practically any genre.

Nobody should be worried about Rannells and Hall being on board for Black Monday either when their credentials are just as legit. Rannells is mostly recognized for a long-running stint on Lena Dunham’s Girls and provided a ton of the laughs on the show. Rannells’s illustrious theatre credits are also of note. He originated one of the main roles in The Book of Mormon, which stands out for its own satirizing qualities, for which he earned a Tony Award nomination for Best Leading Actor. Rannells received a second Tony nomination for his work in the 2016 Broadway revival of Falsettos.

And in a post-Girls Trip world, Hall is definitely having a moment. In fact, all the leading ladies of Girls Trip deserve the Tiffany Haddish treatment, but the Scary Movie alum isn’t doing too badly as it is. She did stumble by starring in the poorly received Netflix comedy Naked, although you can only do so much with a terrible premise. However, Hall’s upcoming comedy flick starring Haley Lu Richardson, Support the Girls, received universal acclaim out of SXSW this year. And although this hits more of a dramatic territory, Hall will likely gain a much wider fanbase with the YA adaptation The Hate U Give. Here’s to hoping that Black Monday will seamlessly fit within the timeline of her renaissance.

Maybe it’s too early to say that Black Monday will definitely fill the House of Lies-shaped void in my heart, especially because it sets out to do something different. Still, that variance makes the show intriguing, and the combination of Cheadle, a promising supporting cast, and Showtime’s unique angle on history could signal a hit in the making.

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Sheryl Oh often finds herself fascinated (and let's be real, a little obsessed) with actors and their onscreen accomplishments, developing Film School Rejects' Filmographies column as a passion project. She's not very good at Twitter but find her at @sherhorowitz anyway. (She/Her)