Review: Big Shots 1.1

Big Shots

In the US:
Thursdays, 10/9c, ABC

In the UK: Not yet acquired

It’s hard to work out what kind of hate drives this “Sex and the City for men”. It’s clearly misogynistic: it has an extremely low opinion of women, thinks they’re all cheats or stupid or sex objects. But despite supposedly being pro-men, it’s clearly misandristic (is that even a word?), arguing we’re all cheats or stupid or put upon wimps. Misanthropic, maybe, since it must think we’re all rubbish, but with different reasons for hating each group, is it really the blanket hatred misanthropy suggests?

Whatever the hate, Sex and the City for men it is not. After all, Sex and the City was about four relatively likeable, initially single women trying to find love/sex/initmacy. They had interests of their own, talents, sense of humour and more.

Here, we have four “big shots” – CEOs and high flying execs of various companies – who are married or formerly married, all being extremely rubbish to everyone around them. Their one common interest appears to be being bitter and being pampered at a club for rich people.

Prepare to hate them back.

Plot (picked up on a side street near the ABC web site)

The lines between boardroom and bedroom blur in Big Shots, the story of four friends who are at the top of their game… until the women in their lives enter the room. These competitive but dysfunctional New York CEOs take refuge in their friendship, discussing business, confiding secrets, seeking advice and supporting one another through life’s twists and turns.

James Walker (Michael Vartan, Alias) is the group’s moral center, but his professional life almost crumbles in an instant, thanks to a corporate shakeup at AmeriMart Industries. However, his work woes pale in comparison to what he later learns about his wife.

Brody Johns (Christopher Titus, Titus) is Senior Vice President of Alpha Crisis Management. Despite his professional success, his wife will be judging him by how magnificently he can put together her birthday party.

Karl Mixworthy (Joshua Malina, The West Wing) is the sweet yet always nervous CEO of a large pharmaceutical company. He has a loving wife and a cunning mistress who is beginning to monopolize whatever free time he can muster.

And Duncan Collinsworth (Dylan McDermott, The Practice) is the sexy, divorced CEO of Reveal Cosmetics. Having built his company into the industry leader, he now finds his personal life threatened by rumor of a personal indiscretion — which is actually a fact — that could turn his world upside down.

The concept for Big Shots sprang from creator Jon Harmon Feldman’s desire to explore, in comedic and dramatic terms, what it means to be a man in 2007.

Also starring in Big Shots are Paige Turco (Rescue Me) as Lisbeth, Duncan’s ex-wife; Peyton List (Day Break) as Cameron Collinsworth, Duncan’s 19-year-old daughter; Jessica Collins (Tru Calling) as Marla, Karl’s high-strung mistress; Amy Sloan (The Heartbreak Kid) as Wendy, Karl’s wife, who hopes that therapy can restore his desire for her; and with Nia Long (Premonition) as Katie Graham, James’ “work wife.”

Created and executive-produced by Jon Harmon Feldman (Reunion, Tru Calling, American Dreams, Dawson’s Creek), Big Shots is from Warner Bros. Television. The pilot was directed by Charles McDougall (Desperate Housewives, Sex and the City). Co-executive producers are Michael Katleman (Primeval, Tru Calling), Emily Whitesell (American Dreams, Once and Again), Danielle Stokdyk (Veronica Mars) and Jennifer Gwartz (Veronica Mars).

Is it any good?

Nope. Apparently, according to the good old ABC web site, this is supposed to be an examination of what it means to be a man in the year 2007. I’m not exactly sure if they’ve come anywhere in the vicinity of the right answer, if having characters whine about their lots – oh woe, you’re only worth millions of dollars. Can it, yappy – and say things like: “We’re the new women” is its attempts at examination.

How insightful.

Neither entertaining nor original, instead it’s the tale of three idiots and one semi-idiot, all feeling sorry for themselves, all being over-promoted beyond their level, judging by the skillsets on display, all failing to give even basic morality a glance and then wondering why things go wrong for them.

Worried that the transvestite hooker might grass you up to a journalist? Maybe you shouldn’t have gone out with a prostitute then. Worried that your wife might find out about your affair? Maybe you shouldn’t have had an affair then.

Yet apparently, this is what it’s like being a man in the year 2007. I know it’s not like that for me, and I hope it’s not like that for the guys reading this either. I suspect that it’s not. I suspect, instead, that certain people have lost touch with reality, have no idea how to write male characters and palm us off with stereotypes.

Odd that, isn’t it, the idea that male scriptwriters might not know how to write male characters? If in fact there’s a message here, it’s that male scriptwriters in the year 2007 don’t have any positive ideas about masculinity themselves. I would refer the read to films such as Knocked Up, Superbad, The 40 Year-Old Virgin, Anchorman, et al for further reading on the subject. Perhaps the producers would be better off hiring some of Sex and the City‘s writers because there are more positive things about men in one of those episodes (or in Men in Trees, say, which is by an ex-Sex and the City writer) than I suspect are going to be in an entire season of Big Shots. Or there’s always Animal Attraction if they need inspiration.

Rant over.

Big Shots is mostly played for laughs though, right down to ‘comedy music’ – you’ll know it when you hear it – so maybe I would let some of that pass, if it were funny in any way for anyone with an IQ greater than 80. It really is wretched. It also loses points for being yet another show (cf Gossip Girl) that plays Peter Bjorn and John’s Young Folks like there’s no tomorrow. Fortunately, there’s no iPhone product placement, but I’m sure it’s just a matter of time.

Here’s a YouTube trailer so you can stare at the horror – although not too long lest it stare into you.


James Walker (Michael Vartan)

Brody Johns (Christopher Titus)

Karl Mixworthy (Joshua Malina)

Duncan Collinsworth (Dylan McDermott)


  • I’m Rob Buckley, a journalist who writes for UK media magazines that most people have never heard of although you might have heard me on the podcast Lockdown Land or Radio 5 Live’s Saturday Edition or Afternoon Edition. I’ve edited Dreamwatch, Sprocket and Cambridge Film Festival Daily; been technical editor for TV producers magazine Televisual; reviewed films for the short-lived newspaper Cambridge Insider; written features for the even shorter-lived newspaper Soho Independent; and was regularly sarcastic about television on the blink-and-you-missed-it “web site for urban hedonists” The Tribe. Since going freelance, I've contributed to the likes of Broadcast, Total Content + Media, Action TV, Off The Telly, Action Network, TV Scoop and The Custard TV.