FYS: ‘Black Monday’

Black Monday is a lot of things. It’s a Showtime series that celebrates gluttony during what was called the Decade of Greed–the 1980s. It’s the preamble to the infamous Black Monday on Wall Street, when an anonymous trader caused the world’s largest financial institution to crash. It’s also another excellent vehicle for the incomparable Don Cheadle, who is fresh from five seasons as Marty Kaan on Showtime’s House of Lies.

Created by David Caspe and Jordan Cahan, and executive produced by Caspe, Cahan, Cheadle, Seth RogenEvan Goldberg, and James WeaverBlack Monday is a classic Showtime series. And five episodes in, it’s a throwback that’s a delight to watch. 

What ‘s the 411? I’ll let them tell it…

“Black Monday” chronicles the 31st anniversary of the worst stock market crash in the history of Wall Street. To this day, no one knows exactly who caused the Oct. 19, 1987, stock market crash — until now. Join some outsiders as they take on the blue-blood club of Wall Street. Join them as they cause the crashing of the world’s largest financial system, a Lamborghini limousine, the glass ceiling, and Don Henley’s birthday party.

The series stars Cheadle, who is at his comedic best as Maurice “Mo” Monroe, the boss of the surly outsider group of traders that are poised to unintentionally take down Wall Street. Andrew Rannells (Blair Pfaff) might have found his perfect role as a deer in headlights junior trader, and Paul Scheer (Keith) is brilliant as usual as a trader who thinks he’s so much better than he is while not even being sure what he really is.

The real star, however, besides the shoulder pads and jheri curls, is Regina Hall as Dawn Darcy. As one of two women in the office, Dawn must not only hold her own, but also find ways to get the old boy network to take her seriously. There’s a scene during the fifth episode where she attempts to run a scam on a pair of investors that not only seems plausible, but you believe that it’s the thing to do just because Hall is so, so good at what she does. The chemistry she has with all of the cast members is electric, and every scene with Cheadle is a comedy master class.   

So, we know Cheadle is at his apex in this environment, poised to chew up all of the scenery as he dons one of the worst afros in television history. What makes his performance so good is that he refrains from that, actually finding a way to restrain himself from going too far over the top, even as he enters and exits that incredibly tacky Lambo limo during many episodes.  He’s as flamboyant and insane as you would think as the boss in the wild, wild 80s Wall Street universe, using and abusing his power to manipulate his crew, yet restrained at the same time.

We see the first cell phones ever invented, and the first fax machines and paper shredders and microwave ovens. We see lots of cocaine and pills and bad toupees and excessive graffiti. If PC is what you’re looking for, do not pass GO. It’s vulgar. And crude. And has more curses than a witches’ cauldron. Sometimes a lot of it doesn’t make much sense. Just like the 80s we remember. None of that will make you long for that era, unless of course you were working on Wall Street then, which is hopefully the point: we’ve come a long way and only bad things happened during the decade. 

Black Monday is a comedy that count downs to one of the greatest collapses in American history. How the two marry each other is where it finds its genius. It’s a series that Showtime does very well. It’ll make you glad that the network and Cheadle are still in business together. Please check the trailer below and see for yourself. 

For Your Saturday… it’s Black Monday

Black Monday airs Sundays at 10 PM on Showtime.

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