American Gigolo: Jon Bernthal could not be more sexy in the most useless show of the year | Television & radio
I I think I should tell you about a few things going on with me right now, since we’re friends (we’re friends, aren’t we?). The first thing is this: I’ve been through the first 30 endless episodes of Better Call Saul, running to the mythic part where you keep telling me “it’s getting really good”, and second, I read a lot of short stories. As you can imagine, my perception of time is quite clouded by the consumption of these two art forms in tandem: first, a strenuous 30-hour walk through the desert that sometimes, like a treat, turns into a non-dramatic and non-funny legal proceedings; and the other, the most succinct way to get to the point beyond a newsletter. Inside me are two wolves: one is convinced that every great TV show requires more than a day of viewing to get its ideas across; and another thinks a good writer can do more with a page of a short story than most people with an entire novel.
This was exacerbated by watching American Gigolo (Paramount+), the Jon Bernthal-led remake of name-maker Richard Gere from 1980, which – for an exhilarating 40 minutes of the pilot – promises to be one of the most frantic and fast. , sexy TV ever made. Act 3 then arrives. Then episode two, then episode – oh no you’re not. You won’t believe it. There are seven hours left of that.
We’ll start with the good bits: Jon Bernthal is very hot, and I don’t even think that’s a political statement to make. He looks sexy in a suit, and he very often takes the suit off and looks at him lying on the bed, as if threatening him. He looks sexy when he’s in jail for a wrongful conviction and when he pops out of there and shaves his mustache. He looks sexy walking around in a black T-shirt tucked into black pants because he’s humble now. There’s very little actual sex — almost none, oddly — but sometimes Bernthal just oiles his hair a bit and you’re like, ah, yeah. Good enough.
It is more or less that. The problem with remake culture – “What if we took a 42-year-old neo-noir crime drama about a high-flying LA escort involved in a murder and forced it through 2022’s premium TV lens, so it has looks terrible, and does it last 10 hours for no reason? Would that be good?” – isn’t it the fact that everything is a remake and nothing is original. The problem is that to fill enough source material protein with enough fiber to make it a TV meal, you have to give each character a backstory, a flashback, a motive, an inner life, and you have to play all of these along to easy TV beats that If they gave that treatment to Taxi Driver, for example – another classic written by Paul Schrader – they’d fill it with the same shit: too many nostalgic scenes about Travis Bickle’s mother, a long cold open where 14-year-old Bickle touches a steering wheel for the first time times as the music turns up, a series finale where a wide-eyed young Bickle watches a guy with a mohawk ride up a gas station, enchanted.
In American Gigolo, this materializes as a completely wasted story about Gretchen Mol’s son, some why-am-I-watching-this? scenes where Bernthal’s Julian Kaye befriends his landlady, and a lot of him wandering around places, remembering things. There are flashbacks to his teenage years that threaten to be interesting and then turn out not to be. There’s a murder mystery running through all of this, and I’d like to say it’s complex, but it’s actually just “stretched and poorly told”. For some reason, each episode contains lengthy edits of footage we’ve seen before, often in the same episode. Rosie O’Donnell is another highlight of the series: she does a really interesting new flavor of blunt, gruff detective, and she and her character deserve the 10 more hours than Bernthal getting a job in a kitchen and then remembering how he went to brunch once.
So it sucks, then. It is very good. In recent years, television has moved into a place where many shows are designed to be half-watched while staring at your phone, and American Gigolo may be threatening to push that concept even further: you don’t even have need to watch it. with sound on. Just check out Instagram once in a while whenever Jon Bernthal is on screen.