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'House of Lies' fan recap: Peace and magic in San Francisco

Season 4 | Episode 5 | “The Urge to Save Humanity Is Almost Always a False Front for the Urge to Rule” | Aired Feb 8, 2015

This episode of House of Lies opens with the song “San Francisco,” which sounds like it’s a ’60s folk tune but was actually released in 2013 on an album titled “We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic” by a band called Foxygen. It really sets the stage, because OMG HOW MUCH WOULD THE POD HATE THE TITLE OF THAT ALBUM. And not to harp on the opening song too much longer, but it’s definitely in striking contrast to the show’s usual soundtrack, and it’s a pretty good joke.

It’s not the ’60s (and the song is current, too), San Francisco is a tech hub—a cash machine, seriously—and it might be on-brand for SF to welcome “ambassadors of peace and magic,” but … no. Let’s be honest: If there’s one thing this show is brutally, coldly, apocalyptically honest about, it’s that cash rules. It’s why the Pod is there, along with Kelsey (who’s looking for the venture capital she needs for her app), and it’s the purpose of the event. Don’t put any flowers in your hair, people, unless they’re made of hundies.

But they’re in San Francisco for a fundraiser that Maya Lindholm is throwing, and opening with that song, just like, gets Maya’s vibe, man. She’s what we’ll call an “earth mama,” also known as “exactly the type of thing that K&A does not give a shit about.” We already know that she was developing an electric car that would be priced for an average consumer. Jeannie sold her on partnering with Gage based on the promise that her car would have a shot at success by using their pre-exisiting infrastructure to quickly scale production. Marty, Doug, and Clyde sold Ellis on the idea that Maya’s car would never make it out of R&D. Let the love-in begin! What a great way to spend a beautiful day, bringing together two people your company has lied to, throwing them at each other for a nice hug and seeing what happens!

In under three minutes of the show’s start, Maya whips out a breast—mid-conversation—in front of the Pod to breastfeed her approximately 3-year-old son. The looks. On their faces. Are priceless. She then asks “where the fuck” Ellis is (while holding her aforementioned son), berates Marty, and makes it clear that Ellis had better show.

Oh, snap, this flower child is a Venus flytrap! (Sorry.) Just a guess, but K&A might have underestimated Maya. Compared to Ellis, everyone seems like a saint, but there’s something about Maya that’s just under the surface. Is it “crazy”? Is it “vicious”? Is it … “actually worse in some ways than Ellis”? We’ll all find out together, yay!

In short order: Marty convinces Ellis to come to the event; Clyde tricks Doug into admitting that he breastfed until he was four; Kelsey shows up to try to secure her seed money (and eventually does); and Marty learns that Maya has given partial ownership of her company to the grad students who work for her. This leaves Maya vulnerable to our good friend Cash Money, and Marty quickly brings in someone with barrels and barrels of the stuff that could snatch up those grad students, and Maya’s company, in a heartbeat. The Pod’s “sponsor” for the $10,000/table event, Denna Altshuler (Mary McCormack), calls an oil magnate, and that’s that. Oil magnates don’t care for electric cars, or “hippies,” or anything but money and oil and weird tiny sunglasses.

Well, “that’s that” doesn’t exactly happen so quickly. Jeannie is not on board with Marty’s plan: She’s convinced that the Ellis and Maya merger can be coaxed into some type of workable situation. (Read: She isn’t ready to sell Maya out at the drop of a hat.) Is that you, Jeannie? Has the “pregnancy brain” you referred to when you met Maya reemerged? Because otherwise, something unimaginable might be happening: You’ve grown … a conscience? Or disagreeing with Marty just feels right. Or both.

Oh, Jeannie, your heart might be in the right place, but Ellis Hightower is a ridiculous man-child. There’s really no way to salvage the damage he does each and every time he opens his mouth. He’s extremely fixated on the fact that the bids for the silent auction are being written on paper, on a clipboard. He makes a speech during which he both donates a million dollars to Maya’s charity and quotes H.L. Mencken (a really questionable person to quote) with the sentence that gives the episode its title. That’s right! He gives her a million dollars and then says that she “very well may be the exception to the rule” that all charitable people want to use their generosity to rise to power. Game over, Jeannie!

To be fair, we don’t know that Ellis is wrong. Maybe Maya’s motivations are pure, and maybe Ellis is just a “pompous prick.” But one doesn’t necessitate the other. Either way, their union is forced when Marty plays his hand. Maya is furious and teary-eyed as she writes a check to return the money for the cost of the table, on the spot. She also tells Jeannie that motherhood won’t change her, because “people like [her] don’t change.” Burn. Really, though, Jeannie is worried, and Marty sees it.

Oh, and Ellis outbid everyone at the auction, on every item. And he apologizes for the clipboard at the podium. Because he really is a ridiculous man-child.

This season started with a lot of room for change, and five episodes in, K&A is absolutely the same underhanded, bottom-line business that we’ve come to expect. The Pod? The jury is still out, but all four of them remain in the game. Our little team could become real, live people who care about other people. But who knows, we might not even like them if they did change. This is a house of lies, after all, and K&A are never going to be 21st-century ambassadors of peace and magic.

House of Lies airs Sundays at 10/9C on Showtime.

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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