'Black Monday,' Cheadle Win A Big Windfall By Shorting Subtlety NPR TV Critic Eric Deggans says the new comedy about the stock market crash of 1987 is heavy-handed, profane and outrageous — and completely worth your time.


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'Black Monday,' Cheadle Win A Big Windfall By Shorting Subtlety

'Black Monday,' Cheadle Win A Big Windfall By Shorting Subtlety

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NPR TV Critic Eric Deggans says the new comedy about the stock market crash of 1987 is heavy-handed, profane and outrageous — and completely worth your time.


When stock markets around the world crashed in 1987, Some newscasters called it Black Monday.


TOM BROKAW: October 19, 1987, when the stock market went into a freefall, losing more in one day than it did on Black Tuesday in 1929.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: That was NBC's Tom Brokaw in the 1980s. Now a new series premiering tonight on Showtime tells the story of a fictional African-American stock trader who just might have caused that crash. It's also called "Black Monday." NPR TV critic Eric Deggans says it's profane, outrageous and worth your time.

ERIC DEGGANS, BYLINE: Don Cheadle's flashy stockbroker Maurice Mo Monroe has a unconventional reaction when his company is named the 11th-biggest trading firm in the Wall Street Journal. He snorts a line of cocaine, throws everything off a nearby desk and delivers a mission statement.


DON CHEADLE: (As Maurice Monroe) Eleven is one one too many. It's been the same Monopoly man at the top of Wall Street for a thousand years. Impossible? This is simple. What goes in your pocket when that bell rings at the end of the day comes directly out of some other sucker's, right?

DEGGANS: We meet Mo in 1986, a year before Black Monday. He's a high-living risk taker with dreams of building an empire on Wall Street by hook or crook - mostly crook. Cheadle plays him with a kinetic ferocity. Mo meets a socially awkward, super waspy aspiring trader named Blair Pfaff, played with geeky enthusiasm by Andrew Rannells. Blair has developed an early computer algorithm to trade stocks. But Mo and his team are a little skeptical when he hires Blair.


CHEADLE: (As Maurice Monroe) You're about to learn a valuable lesson that your MBA could not teach you. The only algorithm that a real trader needs is the algo-rhythm (ph) of the night.

PAUL SCHEER: (As Keith) Ooh. You just got DeBarged (ph).


DEGGANS: The '80s references are heavy-handed and constant in this series, which promises to tell viewers who started the Black Monday crash. As the first episode begins, we see someone jump from a building onto Mo's Lamborghini limousine - remember, it's the '80s - giving us another mystery to consider - who killed themselves? And why? Executive produced by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, who collaborated on the film "The Interview" and the TV show "Preacher," "Black Monday" gives us lots of great moments with other characters from Mo's firm, too - for example, Regina Hall's Dawn Darcy, who's Mo's only female executive. She gets an odd reaction from her mother and husband when she tells them that Mo promoted her.


REGINA HALL: (As Dawn Darcy) I just wanted to tell you guys that I...



KADEEM HARDISON: (As Spencer) Yes.


HARDISON: (As Spencer) Oh, my God.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #1: Should you drink?

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #2: Well, although I did smoke a ton of ganj with you, I guess it's OK.

HALL: (As Dawn Darcy) No. I'm not pregnant. I'm partner at my firm. That's my big news.


HARDISON: (As Spencer) We're not also pregnant by chance, are we?

HALL: (As Dawn Darcy) No. And please don't be one of those guys that says we. I just - I don't like it.

DEGGANS: I hope the series may eventually tell us something to explain today's turbulent economic times. Otherwise, it's a huge missed opportunity. But the first few episodes are having too much fun lampooning the rampant sexism and crude behavior of these greedy, yuppie knuckleheads. When it comes from a crew this entertaining, it adds up to a pretty fun ride just before the crash. I'm Eric Deggans.

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