FURTHER REVIEW: Episode 6 Shows Glimpses Of What ‘Ballers’ Could’ve Been
I noticed something about "Ballers" during "Everything Is Everything" that I hadn't realized in the previous episodes, perhaps because I was distracted by how the show desperately sprints past any chances for meaningful dialogue toward scenes where they can show #tits and #a$$.
The show's best moments come when Dwayne Johnson and Rob Corddry are commenting on the absurdity of the NFL lifestyle. It's funny. It's real. It highlights the show's moral center -- which is otherwise hard to find with all that booty flying around.
At it's best, their quips are clever, original and give their characters some distance from the show's overarching glorification of coping mechanisms disguised as womanizing and financial recklessness. At worst, they sound like a bro-y version of "Mystery Science Theater 3000," not so much commenting on the glorification of said coping mechanisms but contributing to them. In Episode six, we had a funny little glimpse into what this show should've been all along: Joe and Spencer clowning knuckleheads like Vernon Littlefield and his sidekick Reggie without turning the scene into an argument. Arguments aren't very fun to watch, especially when they're easily solved (it makes them feel contrived) and this show is stuck in a cycle of creating conflict and making it go away before the episode's credits roll.
Funniest line in Ballers thus far... pic.twitter.com/28KUDFeLgU
— Jake O'Donnell (@_JakeODonnell) July 27, 2015
Too often, the show's writers try to make us laugh then cry, then get a boner, within the span of 180 seconds -- bouncing between the ever-changing drama following an ensemble of mostly boring characters. Accomplishing that ain't easy, but "Everything Is Everything" does it better than the previous five episodes.
Amidst yet another potentially career-ending scandal -- this time revolving around his tumultuous relationship with Alonzo, which we saw resolved in the last episode -- Ricky Jerret gets a chance to publicly explain his locker room beef in a live TV interview with Jay Glazer that Spencer has arranged. Sensing the risk he is taking in having to confront the sobering personal bullshit that motivates his immaturity (on television, no less), Ricky spends much of the episode freaking out (which ends up being fun to watch) as Spencer does what he's meant to do and helps him put it in perspective.
Glazer takes Jerret to task about violating the sacred locker room rule of "Ye shalt not fuck anyone's mom," which prompts Ricky to respond with those perfunctory clichés we've come to expect when a professional athlete wants forgiveness without having to be vulnerable. When Glazer presses harder, Ricky finally reveals the genesis of his beef with Alonzo -- the jersey number -- and how "18" symbolizes his desire to be the opposite of his father, a professional football player who wore #81. John David Washington delivers the best performance of the entire season, which brings his character to life in a way that the rest of the show's roster has yet to do.
EPISODE 7 PREVIEW:
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