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Dirty Sexy Money - Season 1 (Review)

Dirty Sexy Money

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 3.5 out of 5

AS consistently entertaining as season one of slick new drama series Dirty Sexy Money was, there was a consistently nagging sensation that it should have been a great deal better.

The programme follows idealistic attorney Nick George (Six Feet Under‘s Peter Krause) as he agrees to take over minding the affairs of his late father’s biggest clients, the Darlings, in New York City. Determined not to become a slave to their desires like his father did, Nick’s biggest motivating factor is finding out whether his father was, in fact, killed by them.

But the deeper he gets involved in the family’s affairs, the harder he finds it to pull away – especially given the complex nature of his relationship with Darling patriarch Tripp (Donald Sutherland), an enigmatic man who may or may not know more than he’s letting on about Nick’s father’s demise.

Early on in the season, Dirty Sexy Money appeared to be suffering from the same kind oy syndrome that has affected the likes of Lost and Heroes at various points in their runs… namely too many characters and not enough time.

The pilot episode in particular seemed to struggle with the need to introduce too many characters. Aside from Krause’s Nick, there was his wife, Lisa (played by Zoe McLellan), there were the Darlings themselves, including William Baldwin’s Patrick (a prospective politician struggling to conceal a relationship with a transvestite); Natalie Zea’s Karen Darling, a serial seducer with a flame for Nick; Seth Gabel’s Jeremy Darling, a screw-up struggling to cope with the burden of his family’s expectation; Samaire Armstrong’s Juliet Darling, a society darling who wants both independence from the family, as well as their finances to fund her celebrity lifestyle; and Glenn Fitzgerald’s Brian Darling, a priest with a somewhat less holy outlook on life than he preaches.

Nevertheless, in spite of a ropey start, Dirty Sexy Money did eventually become a high-quality guilty pleasure that eventually gave rise to some tantalising possibilities. Sutherland’s wily Tripp remained the most compulsive reason for watching, gleefully mixing moments of tenderness and fragility with anger and manipulation. His scenes with Krause consistently rated among the best the show had to offer, while the extent of his ruthlessness gradually began to manifest itself over the latter episodes.

Strong, too, was Gabel’s Jeremy Darling, whose attempts to better himself were never less than entertaining (and often very amusing), while Fitzgerald’s Brian Darling emerged as a suitably conflicted soul, who fared much better during his quieter soul-searching moments, than during his OTT outbursts.

Sadly, the likes of Baldwin’s politician and Zea’s temptress failed to leave quite such a lasting impression… although one senses that perhaps the writer’s strike had a part to play in not enabling the show to properly flesh out ALL the characters during a shorter first season than, perhaps, originally envisaged.

Still, if it’s undemanding Friday night viewing that you seek – that has plenty of style much not much substance – then you could do a lot worse. And with a second season that promises to learn from the mistakes of its predecessor and raise the stakes from the outset, now is the perfect time to become acquainted with the Darlings if you haven’t already. It’s unashamedly good fun.

Certificate: 12
Running time: 426mins
UK DVD Release: October 27, 2008