TV REVIEW: SHUT EYE – THE DARK ART OF FORTUNE TELLING YOUR ASS OUT OF MONEY

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I’ve definitely had moments in my life when I would vegetate for hours watching Law & Order marathons, eating cold but microwaved Pizza Rolls and drinking watered down Coke from the ice melting after an episode or two.

I’m not very ambitious during binge watching and getting up to freshen a drink seems useless to me.

Even with a pause button.

Getting emotionally invested in TV shows these days is difficult. The formulas for most television programs are so outdated and blatantly rehashed that they’ve become unbearable to watch. I’m not even sure how the hell Reality shows have become totally unrealistic but they absolutely have.

Let’s be honest, TV sucks.

Sometimes, I stumble across a new series that keeps me interested for more than just the first two or three episodes. Hulu’s new original series, Shut Eye, just might be one of those.

THE SHOW

Shut Eye revolves around the world of Southern California psychics and it’s seedy little underbelly. It seems that all things attached to the Psychic industry in this area are ran by the Romanians. From the seemingly innocent little old lady reading palms in a dark and cold room to the full-fledged New Age store in Beverly Hills… it’s all the Romanian Mob.

Jeffrey Donovan played Michael Weston for 6 seasons on the USA Network series, Burn Notice.

Somewhere in the pre-first episode past, Charlie Haverford (Jeffrey Donovan), moves out to Southern California with his wife, Linda (KaDee Strickland). Along for this move is their son, Nick (Dylan Schmid), who goes to high school. Charlie was a magician and inventor/builder of some big tricks in Las Vegas. For reasons not yet fully explained in the show, they bail out of Vegas in hopes of making some cash running scams in Los Angelos.

Once in L.A., they decide to open up some Psychic parlors to test the waters of the con game. Well, with the Romanians cornering that whole Psychic gig thing, they eventually find out about Charlies little unsanctioned parlors and beat the shit out of unlucky Chuck. He ends up being forced to work for the Romanians, essentially still operating the parlors he once owned but now giving most of the profits to them.

This particular Romanian Mob is headed up by a character called Fonso (Angus Sampson) and Fonsos mother, Rita (Isabella Rossellini). Running parlors for this family has certain rules and Charlie seems to be pretty cool at following them. A crucial part of the deal Charlie has with Fonso is that if there is a Long Con to be had, he needs to kick it up to Fonso to handle. This essentially gives away everything to the Romanians and gives nothing in return to Charlie.

This is one of the larger plots of this seasons story arc.

THE PLOT

Shut Eye’s first season revolves around Charlies need to decide if he is going to go behind Fonso’s back and run a Long Con on his own or kick it up to Fonso to handle, per his deal. Charlie and his wife, knowing that this particular mark has millions to be had, wants to take this new grift as their own. They believe that this could be their way of getting out of the con game altogether.

Yes, this particular ‘commit a crime in search of a better life’ story has been done. We know, presumably, that some shit is gonna happen because you can’t have a better life by ripping people off.

Unless you’re watching Oceans Eleven.

…or that one John Cusack movie.

…or anything with Billy Bob Thornton.

THE SUMMATION

A few episodes in and there is already a shit ton of crazy people all up in this cast. I don’t want to share too much about each individual character. Let’s say, though, that the heroes aren’t really heroes and the villains aren’t really villains. Everyone seems, at times, heartless and vicious while being compassionate and understanding. My feelings about each of these characters seem so hard to peg. It’s a big reason I’m digging the show so far.

Charlies wife, Linda (KaDee Strickland) and Charlie (Jeffrey Donovan) talking with a real deal monster and client of theirs, Eduardo Bernal (David Zayas).

Shut Eye has elements of many other television shows but done quite differently. It’s a show about the mob but it’s the Romanian mob, it’s about grifters but not high-stakes glamor grifters, it’s about bad people trying to be good people but maybe not deserving of the change.

There is an underlying element of a hopeless kind of hope and that’s the kind of dread that intrigues me. It’s not a heavy show but it is dark.

I’ve yet to see the complete season, I’m almost done with it but I swear… if Shut Eye ends terribly, I will literally freak the fuck out.

Expectations are high.

I am not above canceling my Hulu subscription and writing one of those super nasty emails old people write to companies and make them refund my money.

I will also punch my television.

Softly.

…cause I’m kinda fragile and stuff.

 

 

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Mark Dubin

Mark spent 25 + years fronting punk and alt.country bands such as the Johnsons, the Hang Ups, and Los Diablos but now wreaks havoc as a Suburban punk rock dad. You can follow him and his misadventures on various sites by clicking on any of those nifty little boxes to the left and begin to amaze yourself at his undeniable ability to stumble over everything around him.

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