Review by Camden Ferrell
The Con is a new mini-series directed by Eric S. Vaughan that was written by Patrick Lovell and Vaughan. The series consists of five episodes which each explore the cause of the 2008 Financial Crisis. While this series is well-researched and very informed, it often suffers from its poor execution that muddles its ideas and extensive knowledge.
This series looks at the various aspects that led to the financial crisis, who was involved, and it really tries to uncover why the system failed, and why it’s bound to happen again. This topic is one that has been covered a lot in television in film in the past few years, and this series aims to take it a step further by reaching back multiple decades in its search for the true cause of the crash. While new information is presented, it does seem like it repeats a lot of similar points that are common knowledge at this point.
The organization of the series is mostly coherent even if there are some jumbled up ideas in each episode. Episode 1 focuses a lot on the death of Addie Polk who tragically committed suicide before she could be forcefully evicted from her home. From there, the Vaughan and Lovell start to branch out into related ideas and reoccurring motifs. Most episodes follow this format and have a central idea, but sometimes within each episode, its structure can be inconsistent and fairly draining.
While the main emotional drive of the series come from the interviews that focus on individuals who were directly affected by the crash, the best interviews comes from those with inside knowledge. The interviewees from Wall Street, the SEC, and the like provide a lot of relevant insight into the actions that led to the crash, and this is typically the best part of each episode. However, one can commend Lovell’s own inclusion in the series since the crash personally affected him in drastic ways. There’s a lot of pathos in its rhetoric, but it’s an angle that loses its effectiveness with each episode.
The series quickly becomes a jargon filled mess that can lose focus. It’s clear that the writers are extremely knowledgeable about the events leading up to the crash, but they’re not always the most effective in communicating these ideas. Even though some basic knowledge of the crash will be sufficient, some viewers may still have a hard time with the concepts presented in the series.
The runtime is also very bloated. The five episodes span around six hours, and it doesn’t really feel warranted. Many ideas feel repetitive, and the series consistently feels overly long. There are sections that don’t feel necessary, and it doesn’t seem like time is always allocated properly. Again, this is a series that tries to reach far back into America’s economic history, but it still doesn’t feel like it earns its length.
The show comes off as the equivalent of a really dense textbook. The content is all there, the writers are very knowledgeable, but it’s not necessarily entertaining most of the time even if you are learning new information. It’s a noble attempt at exploring the crisis in depth and warning us of what’s to come, but it’s nothing groundbreaking.
The Con is informational if nothing else. It might be of interest to those who were affected by the crash and want closure or those who are interested in that aspect of the economy. However, this is a series that the average viewer will not particularly enjoy. It’s ambitious, but the result is a series that rehashes a lot of points and feels far too long for what it has to say.
The Con is now available virtually online. A list of participating theaters can be found here.