This week, the husband and I finally got around to watching Ballers, a series that we had always wanted to watch but couldn’t because it was only on Sky Atlantic (an exclusive to Sky TV channel), so after getting Sky TV in our new house I went searching through the Sky box sets and there it was!
The premise is something right in our wheelhouse the other side of one of our passions; the NFL. Ex-NFL superstar, Spencer Strasmore is trying to find his way in the workplace as a financial manager for current NFL players in the gorgeous Miami. After his boss Joe instructs him to “monetize his friendships,” Spencer has to try and build his client base up out of young and veteran stars alike, but inevitably both his roles in their lives collide and go further than just money management. Going off his own experiences he also tries to help them traverse the lifestyle of being big-time “ballers.”
The series is created by Stephen Levinson (“Entourage,” “Boardwalk Empire”) and stars Dwayne Johnson as Spencer Strasmore. I think that Dwayne Johnson is great at everything, not only as an actor, wrestler or even just a human being! He seems to be one of the genuinely nice guys of Hollywood. My husband and I will see a film just because he is in it and this is rewarded by his charming performances and Ballers is no different. Johnson is without a doubt the best part of this show, his comic timing is excellent and works well within the show.
Johnson brings charm and depth to the character of Spencer Strasmore and is able to show us that though an NFL player may be out of the game, they still have to live and carry on with a normal life. Could you imagine being in training for and then being in one career for your entire life and either having to leave it through injury or ‘old age’ (usually before you are 40)? Strasmore has issues that much we know right at the beginning of the season, as the series goes on we find out what these are in more detail.
Johnson almost plays himself in the series, or so you would imagine, he has a great range of emotions throughout the show that he is able to work into his character from comedic to highly agressive. But it is not all about him!
The Ballers supporting cast are also a key component of the show, with Spencer’s boss Joe (Rob Corddry), a rookie up-and-comer Vernon (Donovan W. Carter), a notorious veteran (John David Washington) and an early retiree Charles (Omar Miller). I think that these roles are all played well and although some may be cliche… there’s smoke without fire.. some of these stereotypes are real people. But it does make you think about the other side of the NFL and after all the things you read in the news you will not be surprised by a lot of them.
Ballers does have some good laughs in it and I love some of the interactions between characters the banter between them is that of long term friends and really lends itself to more of a comedic side. There is drama in the show but due to it being labelled as a comedy the story line never really goes deep enough for me, but then if you are looking for drama I would highly recommend Friday Night Lights (the TV show).
Something I wasn’t too keen on (and I may be outnumbered here) is the gratuitous sex scenes, some were simply not needed, for instance – where during the first time we meet the agent was the need for a nameless (as all of them were in the first episode) woman to be grinding on him? Women seem to to be treated badly or as objects in almost every scene, the only time we see anything different is when Spencer is apologising for being that guy in the past.
If you can look past that though, there is a good show going on below with many a cameo (even if I did have to ask my husband who some of them were) each week. At only 30 minutes per episode they are in bite size chunks and easily digestible and enjoyable.
All in all, I would suggest that people watch the show, it has promise and i hope that with the second season due to come it will only get better. The season story arcs are good and there’s no ‘problem of the week’ that some TV shows rely on. Like I have said previously,Johnson really steals the show and proves that it is not just the silver screen that he belongs on, the TV world will also be beckoning him to do more!
Have you seen it? What did you think?