One of the things that we’ll give “Ballers” at present the most credit for is trying to be as authentic as possible when it comes to its storytelling. If you want to see real NFL talent integrated into a show all about the subject matter, you don’t really have to look any further than here.
With that being said, we were somewhat surprised that the HBO show decided to entrust so much of the premiere to Terrell Suggs, a Baltimore Ravens star who’s known for playing the actual sport than acting. Yet, he did a decent job of anchoring what was at times an exciting story about his longtime feud with Spencer, one that erupted in particular on a Jay Glazer show with the two parties getting into a fight. As a result, Anderson is furious, but Spencer’s now intent to get him over onto his financial team. For him, it’s about turning a really clear negative into a positive.
Here’s the issue with this particular story: It feels almost like a carbon copy of season 1. Spencer flies off the handle at an inopportune time, and has to course-correct somehow to ensure that he still gets his way. It’s too predictable. If Spencer’s going to have a problem, we want it to be due to something other than his temper. How about him dealing with business-related frustrations, or going on Glazer’s show and making a false promise or a mistake in that direction? Or, how about finding a different angle that allowed Suggs to be more comedic?
Elsewhere in the half-hour, there was not too much time to focus on other matters beyond Rickey Jerret having the worst birthday ever after he realized the Dolphins’ apparent plans to go Alonzo most of his money. His hope of getting to finish his career there went up in smoke. We figure that Vernon and Charles will get more of their chance to shine later, and we’re not going to hate the show too much for having too much on its place.
In the end, we’d argue the premiere was fine. It was authentic, and for diehard football fans there were probably a few laughs. Our primary issue is that the show can do better than its main storyline tonight, a sitcom-like argument between two grown men over trash talk that wend down exactly like you would expect for it to. Grade: C+.
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