Review: HBO’s ‘Ballers’ Hits Its Stride In Its 4th Season
Summer is the time of year where there tends to be an overwhelming amount of reality shows dominating just about every channel on broadcast and cable. HBO’s Ballers chose to take up the difficult task of airing on Sunday nights. Sunday is the golden day for HBO.
Being the lead-in to Insecure and Last Week Tonight With John Oliver ensures a top-notch level of comedy and civil discourse to try to liven you up after the dark mini-series Sharp Objects.
Does it succeed? Yes. Why? The cast is led by one of the most loved stars in Hollywood: Dwayne Johnson.
In this new season, it picks up where it left off: Spencer (Dwayne Johnson) is continuing his dream of success post-football, but his past may come to haunt him when opportunities take him where he doesn’t want to go; Joe (Rob Corddry) is trying to expand their business into those places that Spencer is reluctant to go; Charles (Omar Miller) is starting his new job as the GM of the Rams; Ricky (John David Washington) is trying his hand at the retirement life with his girlfriend despite wanting to make a comeback.
As with past seasons of Ballers, each episode has the ability to burn by so quickly that the ending credits catch you off guard. This season continues with that tradition of making you want more with each passing episode.
Joe has a business opportunity in California with a guest star who owns an action sports channel, but needs capital to really get it going. Joe is all about it, but Spencer has major hesitations about the idea, and that may be made more complicated because of his traumatic history with California. Joe, being Spencer’s best friend and business partner, has to figure out what he will do when Spencer confides in him the reason of his apprehension.
MORE BALLERS: Interview With Ballers Star Omar Benson Miller
I’ve had the chance to interview Omar Benson Miller, and I’m convinced that he’s still the heart of the show. Sure, you have big agents, financial advisor’s, sports superstars, and these powerful people in the show, but then you have a former player who isn’t at the level of Spencer trying to figure out his life after the game. He’s gone from working at a car dealership to being the GM of the Rams. Not only that, but Ballers didn’t simply write his progression as simply falling into luck, no, he had to bust his ass the entire time to prove he’s worth it.
Ricky is really trying to hold on to settling down with his girlfriend and starting his family. The only problem is that everyone else he knows hates the idea. Even if he thinks he can jump back into the game, his girlfriend, Annabella, says that if he goes back to the game, she will be at every game. No more secret fun for Ricky if that becomes the case.
While Ballers is known for its flashy clothes, sets, locations, and sexy people, it also touches on issues in the news: PTSD, Suicide, opiates, sports related injury, and depression. It has the ability to jump from subject to subject without missing a beat. If I had to compare it to another show that has the ability to do that, I believe the FX show Rescue Me would be an adept comparison. A round could be cracking jokes one moment, then one character will go off and be suffering without anyone having any idea. It’s the ability to flow in and out of that situation that makes Ballers shine.
The first episode of season four really sets up the plot for the fourth season. A casual viewer can get caught up quickly, which will make it easier to jump right back in on the during the crowded TV slate of Sundays. The rest of the season goes to places you won’t think it will go, and that’s why it will be a great experience as you kick back and watch.
Ballers was created by Stephen Levinson; executive produced by Stephen Levinson, Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson, Dany Garcia, Peter Berg, Rob Weiss, Denis Biggs, Karyn McCarthy and Julian Farino; producers, Janace Tashjian, Dave Levinson, Julie Camino, Rashard Mendenhall and Joey Krutel; co-producers, Olivier Arnesen and Spencer Strasmore; executive story editor, Jason Lew.
Ballers airs every Sunday night on HBO at 10 p.m. EST. Check out the trailer for the new season below, and go catch up on past episodes of HBO or HBO GO.
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Jeff Sorensen is an author, writer and occasional comedian living in Detroit, Michigan. You can look for more of his work on The Huffington Post, UPROXX, BGR, ScreenRant, and by just looking up his name.