Review: Trust Me 1×1

Mad men? No. Very slightly dotty men? Yes

Trust Me, with Eric McCormack, Monica Potter and Tom Cavanagh

In the US: Mondays, 9/8c, TNT

Over the years, there have been surprisingly few shows set in the world of advertising. Given that it’s a sexy, sexy industry, filled with volatile creatives, loads of money and gadzillions of product placement and sponsorship opportunities, you’d have thought it would have been a no-brainer, but apparently not. Bewitched and Mad Men and that’s about it, really.

So, finally, at last, comes the show we’ve all been waiting for (?). Produced by former advertising execs and current producers of The Closer, Trust Me stars Eric McCormack (Will in Will and Grace, who recently had a brief sojourn on The Andromeda Strain), Tom Cavanagh (JD’s brother on Scrubs and Eli’s father on Eli Stone) and Monica Potter (Boston Legal and Martha in Martha, Meet Frank, Daniel & Laurence).

While the lack of class A drugs probably disqualifies it from being called a realistic portrayal of the advertising industry, in many ways it’s a reasonably accurate look at the egos of the creatives in the boys’ club that is the modern advertising industry, right down to the fact there’s only one woman in it.

Pity it’s not as funny as it thinks it is.

Eric McCormack (Will & Grace) and Tom Cavanagh (Ed) return to series television in TNT’s TRUST ME, a sharp, witty drama series that centers on two best friends working as creative partners at a top-ranked Chicago ad agency.

Joining McCormack and Cavanagh in TRUST ME are Monica Potter (Boston Legal), Griffin Dunne (Law & Order: Criminal Intent), Sarah Clarke (24), Mike Damus (Lost in Yonkers) and Geoffrey Arend (Garden State). The show from Warner Horizon Television is executive-produced by THE CLOSER‘s Greer Shephard, Michael M. Robin, Hunt Baldwin and John Coveny . Baldwin and Coveny are also writers on the show. TRUST ME premieres Monday, Jan. 26, 2009, at 10 p.m. (ET/PT) , following an all-new episode of THE CLOSER.

Set against the backdrop of the high-pressure world of advertising, TRUST ME focuses on Mason (McCormack) and Conner (Cavanagh), a pair of ad men whose strong creative partnership has served the firm of Rothman Greene & Mohr extremely well over the years. Mason, an art director, is a responsible, workaholic family man with a beautiful wife, Erin (Clarke), two children and an undying loyalty to the brands he helps sell. By contrast, his writing partner, Conner (Cavanagh), is a single, impulsive copywriter with the attention span of a teenager. Their yin-yang relationship is put to the test when Mason is named a creative director of the agency, making him Conner’s boss. The series follows the changing dynamics between the two friends, who are better together than they are apart.

Also working in the same creative group is new hire Sarah Krajicek-Hunter (Potter), an award-winning copywriter whose forceful personality has a tendency to rub people the wrong way. Hector (Arend) and Tom (Damus) are a junior creative team with untraditional ideas that don’t always sit well with their new boss. The entire team is supervised by Tony Mink (Dunne), a man who lives and dies by the advertising business but has a growing sense his days in this young person’s business may be numbered.

TRUST ME follows these memorable characters as they try to navigate the waters of inter-office politics, personality conflicts, easily bruised egos, professional jealousies and unreasonable client demands.

TRUST ME was created by Hunt Baldwin and John Coveny, who have a combined total of over 20 years of experience in the advertising world having worked for J. Walter Thompson and Leo Burnett Advertising in Chicago . Baldwin and Coveny are also co-executive producers on TNT’s THE CLOSER.

Is it any good?
Again, not as good as it thinks it is. While I spent most of the first episode with a slight grin on my face, that was mainly because I recognised some of the characters (having worked in companies not too dissimilar to Rothman Greene & Mohr), rather than because the jokes and situations were desperately funny or original.

At its heart, there’s a problem, which is the central double act of Eric McCormack and Tom Cavanagh. While there’s nothing wrong with either of them, the forced wackiness of their interplay just isn’t as wacky as we’re all supposed to think it is.

Meanwhile, as we watch this boys’ club in action, Monica Potter is being far more interesting than the both of them put together, except her character doesn’t really have much to do apart from complain about not having an office and how crap her job is. In fact, if the producers had paired Eric McCormack with her instead of Tom Cavanagh, you’d have probably had a vastly more entertaining show, judging by their scenes together.

It’s a relatively conventional first episode in which everyone learns a lesson about themselves before the happy ending arrives. The acting’s a little less than subtle, with even guest star Jason O’Mara from Life on Mars hamming it up (again, his character is far more entertaining than either McCormack’s or Cavanagh’s), and you’ll have had more than a few Nip/Tuck and even Studio 60 déjà vus by the time the end credits roll.

If they can find something of note for Monica Potter to do, synchronise the supposed wackiness and the actual wackiness of the two central characters in some way and come up with some decent jokes, it might be worth watching. At the moment, it’s not great, but I’ll be sticking around for Monica at least.

Here’s a YouTube promo for the show, followed by a sneak peek at next week’s episode and a tiny wee TNT embed with Monica Potter’s interview being sabotaged ‘spontaneously’ by Eric McCormack and Tom Cavanagh. You can also see numerous videos at the TNT web site:


  • Rob Buckley

    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.