WHITE HOUSE PLUMBERS
Starring: Woody Harrelson, Justin Theroux, Lena Headey, Domhnall Gleeson, Judy Greer, Kim Coates, Gary Cole, Rich Sommer, and Toby Huss
Creators: Alex Gregory and Peter Huyck
White House Plumbers could have been great. An interesting look at the Watergate scandal could make for some engaging TV, but between talented actors seemingly forgetting how to act (I’m looking at you, Woody Harrelson) and really rough character work, the incompetency of this show is on full display. Ultimately, though, what really sinks the series is the tone. The creators clearly were aiming for a Veep meets Succession tone that they were incapable of pulling off, which made the show a cringey and laborious experience to sit through weekly. All in all, just a whole lot of wasted opportunities.
After having watched Starz’ Gaslit last year, I wasn’t entirely sure that I needed another star-studded miniseries about Watergate, but I decided to give it a go based on the talent involved and HBO’s reputation. This was a mistake. I understand that the true story has an inherent stranger-than-fiction quality, but the approach taken here is almost one of pure farce over satire. Imagine The Nice Guys meets the Coen Bros’ The Ladykillers, but in a cringey, try-way-too-hard kinda way. The humor just doesn’t land, which creates a tone that undermines the historical facts. It’s only five episodes, but they are genuinely hard to watch.