Good news, acolytes of Kaan & Associates: This season of House of Lies is considerably funnier and light-hearted, pursuing a path that creator/executive producer Matthew Carnahan has called "less pathos, more ensemble comedy." This go-round, Marty Kaan (Don Cheadle) and his gang of naked opportunists are engaging in more booze and drug-fueled foolishness that's fun to watch, as is their unrestrained, exploitive-laden trash-talking.
This season is all about exploring identity, including new roles, new relationships. Jeannie (Kristen Bell) for example, stepped away at the end of last season to become CFO for a major pharm brand — and she and Marty were set to embark on a new journey as parents to baby Phoebe despite their rocky history. Everything, though, is setting up the gang to explore new territory, both for them and American television, as the season culminates with a trip to Cuba — making House of Lies the first U.S. scripted show to film in the country since diplomatic ties were restored in 2015. Their adventure gets wild way before that though. Check out some of the standout elements below.
Yes, there's lots of stuff happening this season, and yes, you'll see many guest stars, including Keegan-Michael Key, John Cho, Donald Faison and Nicky Whelan. But in a decidedly funny season, Wanda Sykes stands out as a delightful riot. She plays Rita, Jeremiah's (Glynn Turman) new girlfriend and when she first appears, she comes out swinging — literally wielding a weapon against Marty in his own home. From there, she's a nonstop ride of gut-busting insults, perfectly timed one-liners and even touching insights that spur characters to make life changes. A highlight of the season, for sure.
A new Roscoe, Marty and Jeremiah
Marty's son Roscoe (Donis Leonard Jr. ) is the ultimate shape-shifter, having long played with notions of masculinity and femininity in fascinating ways throughout the series. Now, he's gone straight-edge — annoyingly so as he champions a clean-living philosophy that turns meat-eaters and milk-drinkers (hey, Jeannie) into heathens. Of course, since he and Marty are on a veritable endless search for new ways to drive each other crazy, this new turn is creative and fun to watch. We're also seeing a little more of Marty's soft side. After a very trippy experience in which psychedelics prompt spiritual introspection for everyone except Marty, he's just on the brink of resigning himself to being selfish forever when he has a breakthrough. Daughter Phoebe starrts to change him too. And with his dad having, um, a really great time with his new girlfriend, he starts to reevaluate his role in his son's and grandson's lives to pursue his own thing.
New relationships abound
As the season begins, Marty is hooking up with Klare, one of those gratingly pretentious raw vegan, hiking-at-sunset, kinda spiritual people with perfect bodies they flaunt to their zillion Instagram followers. She's a walking collection of clichés and humblebrag hashtags, making her interplay with Marty and Jeannie delicious. Jeannie, meanwhile, gets into a serious thing with her co-worker Mark (Ken Marino) which goes well... until it doesn't and then has Jeannie reacting in a fantastically funny meltdown. Again, the aforementioned relationship between Marty's dad Jeremiah and Rita will be a highlight of the season. While Doug (Josh Lawson) and Clyde (Ben Schwartz) aren't in a hug-and-kiss relationship — although the season's still young — they're at each other's throats as they vie to be Marty's top henchman. But the most interesting relationship of all may still be Marty and Jeannie. As circumstances change, they're thrust closer, both through their daughter Phoebe and then in business. By the time we get to midseason, the pair appear to be cautiously re-forming an alliance — one that sets them up to chase a life-saving deal through the streets of Havana.
See Jeannie accidentally call her new boyfriend Marty in this clip from House of Lies first episode.
House of Lies returns Sunday at 9/8c on Showtime.
(Full disclosure: Showtime is owned by CBS, the parent company of TVGuide.com.)