The Showtime series Black Monday contains a lot of elements that indicate it should be an upper-echelon prestige cable series.
It was created by David Caspe, whose previous series was the deservedly beloved sitcom Happy Endings. It features 1980s fashions and is set against the backdrop of the titular stock market crash in 1987.
Its cast, also, is first-rate, led by the great actor Don Cheadle, who’s surrounded by the likes of Regina Hall, Andrew Rannells, Paul Scheer, and Casey Wilson (who co-starred on Happy Endings and is married to Caspe). Also on board are talented performers like Ken Marino, Horatio Sanz, June Diane Raphael, and the long-missing A Different World actor Kadeem Hardison.
It’s just too cute, and too on the nose, with all of the humor broad, broad, broad
However, Black Monday, which just wrapped up its third season… just isn’t good. It started off mediocre and, as of the end of its third season a couple of weeks ago, hasn’t gotten any better since. I also don’t get the sense that the show has much buzz about it. Few major sites recap it, and it isn’t often the subject of much prominent social media chatter.
It might be because it airs on the same network as Billions, another series about Wall Street that lands much sharper satirical blows, even though it’s not actually a comedy. The two shows even had their seasons overlap for a time. The difference is, Black Monday isn’t particularly interested in the mechanics of stock trading and hasn’t been since the first season.
Subtle as a Sledgehammer
However, the biggest problem with Black Monday is the writing, both in terms of dialogue and structure. It’s just too cute, and too on the nose, with all of the humor broad, broad, broad.
Take the running joke in Season 2 about Regina Hall’s character being confused with Regina King ― yes, they’re both Black actresses of about the same age who have likely been mistaken for one another for years. But her character, Dawn, isn’t named Regina!
The plotting isn’t so great either. Everything has to be a huge swing, with murder plots, betrayals, serial killers, and people faking their own deaths constantly. And not only that, but the characters are constantly betraying one another and forgiving each other way too quickly.
Yes, the actors are talented, Cheadle and Hall especially, but it’s not clear if the show will be returning for a fourth season. Though, there isn’t an actor on the show who I wouldn’t rather see in something else.