Thursday, April 12, 2007

Riches of Riches

Okay, when I first read they'd cast two Brits to play southern travellers in a new show on FX called The Riches, I was very skeptical. When one of them turned out to be Eddie Izzard, I jumped for joy. I LOVE Mr. Izzard's comedy ("Do you have a flaag?"). Seeing him do stand-up live is one of the best nights of my life. He's just hysterical. His acting is pretty decent too, though I haven't seen him in much more than The Cat's Meow and Ocean's Twelve, and both were minimal. Anyway, being able to see him on a regular basis was a going to be a good thing. Then I saw the actual show and it turns out to be a great thing. I was pretty unfamiliar with the concept of travellers or people who generally live outside "the grid", and at first thought it would be hard not to portray them in a cliched, racist way. But The Riches is so well written and conceived that it manages to avoid creating any sort of broad sterotype, and presents really nuanced individuals, who conveniently fall on either good or bad sides of likability, rather than good or bad morally. The acting in the first 2-3 episodes was a little weaker, with Izzard falling into a little too much improv stuttering and his very funny, drug-addicted, recently paroled wife, Minnie Driver, dropping her accent on a fairly regular basis. However, in the most recent few episodes it's just become terrific, with constant surprises as this traveller family tries to live as "buffers" (the traveller equivalent of "Muggles") and what it takes to fit into a suburban town and impersonate real people. They seem to navigate the line of "identity theft" pretty carefully as it's a fairly sensitive subject these days and not to be ignored lightly. Thankfully, FX is running the entire season so far tomorrow (FRIDAY) night at 9. Definitely check it out if you've missed any - it's worth watching, just to think about a whole different culture of people, how they live, and then what it means to be part of a community and what you present as your "identity" to prove who you are. It's terrific - check it out.

1 comment:

Cat said...

I like the sound of questioning the basis of community and identity. I feel like we all sometimes wonder how we establish who we are vis-a-vis a group and what status symbols we care about and which are not meaningful.