Tuesday, June 11, 2024

Television Tuesday: The First Two Episodes of, "Clipped," Build Suspense Expertly

"Clipped," is a six-episode series by FX on Hulu and is based on a real event when audio was leaked of the owner of the L.A. Clippers, Donald Sterling, saying a whole lot of racist stuff. The show is based on the ESPN 30 for 30 podcast, "The Sterling Affairs," and as it is a dramatized version of events that means some parts are a bit fictionalized of the 2014 event but other aspects are disturbingly true. Episodes drop early in the morning on Tuesdays, so the third one is actually viewable now but I have not yet seen it. That said, I am excited to watch it as the first two entries are superb at building suspense and setting up the messy downfall of Donald Sterling.

To summarize what happened, Donald Sterling had an assistant (known as V) whom he had some sort of relationship with (not exactly even sexual, but more almost like he was coddling and infantilizing her) and when things went sour she leaked a lot of audio of him saying some really racist and otherwise offensive things. There was a ton of fallout and episodes 3-6 will clearly cover that. Such a short summary does a disservice to a number of complexities the podcast and now show dig into, however.

The primary cast is fantastic. V is portrayed by Cleopatra Coleman and comes across less as the evil opportunist some tried to paint her as and instead seems a bit scared, worried about her own livelihood, and dangerous enough to cause a lot of trouble if she feels threatened. Jacki Weaver plays Sterling's wife, Shelly, and is superb in showcasing a mix of rage, sadness, and abject terror at what will happen if the things her husband has said on tape are revealed. Ed O'Neill portrays Sterling and nails a solid blend of seeming a bit like a buffon but also having a scary and nefarious edge lurking below his aloof surface. 

 Laurence Fishburne absolutely kills it as Doc Rivers, however. Everyone has praised his portrayal as the coach of the Clippers, and he puts in work. With the way he walks, gestures, and does the voice he truly is showcasing some acting chops. That said, some of the actors portraying athletes have had it noted they don't look much like the people they are meant to represent. It isn't too distracting, but Blake Griffin really does not look like Blake Griffin.

"Clipped," and its first two episodes build a bundle of suspense while moving at a nice breezy speed putting the pieces in place for the infamous P.R. fiasco. There is a bit of a trashy soap opera feel to it all, but the show leans into that vibe with little Instagram montages and such between scenes. This was a social media event right as social media really began taking off a decade ago, and, "Clipped," doesn't show away from that. I am excited to watch the next four episodes of this series as I only vaguely recall just how messy everything got and taking a deeper dive into what occurred should be interesting and entertaining!

5 out of 5 stars (for the first two episodes).

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