The Company You Keep released to ABC in late February and now has a handful of episodes to consider for review. Often for a new show, if the first episode is too difficult to grade. The Conservative Critic will let the show warm up a bit to see where it falls. In the case of The Company You Keep, letting the show play out a bit did it a lot good.
An odd couple caper, The Company You Keep is Milo Ventimiglia’s first show since he stole America’s heart as Jack in This is Us which concluded last year. So for the sake of his millennial fans who have loved him since Gilmore Girls, many are hoping The Company You Keep works.
The Conservative Critic asks, is it entertaining? Does it have artistic/intellectual value? And is it liberal propaganda?
The Conservative Critic Meter Check: The Company You Keep
Overall Rating: A fun cat and mouse
The premise of The Company You Keep, a CIA agent and a conman unwittingly falling in love, feels pretty forced and done to death (not to mention how stupid the title sounds). So viewers will need to give The Company You Keep more of a chance than the first episode in order to get into it. The first episode is focused primarily on building a reality where the flimsy premise could happen and was pretty absurd, not to mention a little boring. But as the show progresses, the layers of the main characters’ families and personal situations add quite a bit of flavor to the otherwise tired storyline. Milo Ventimiglia as Charlie Nicoletti takes on many personas as a sophisticated con-artist and a local barman and he’s great as all of them and the Nicoletti family has the most to offer viewers as a family of loveable con artists complete with a deaf con artist daughter. As the Nicoletti’s interact with other crime organizations, the show becomes something more interesting. The relationship between Nicoletti and CIA Agent Emma Hill played by Catherine Haena Kim fades out of focus which is greatly to the benefit of the story telling.
Overall, The Company You Keep is a classic cat and mouse with a lot of merit that will be worth watching for a couple of seasons while the story plays out despite its celebration of deep state which is frustratingly common for popular television.
Is it entertaining?
Rating: Delightful caper
Capers are fun. For The Company You Keep, think low rent Ocean’s 11 in a good way. The Company You Keep has rival crime families pitting underdogs versus big bosses with both internal and external politics and rivalries at play. Because the Nicoletti family, unlike Frank Ocean, is not successful in their schemes 100% of the time, there is the added thrill of not knowing exactly what the outcome might be of any given hustle. The romantic story between Emma and Chris is fine but not really the fun part. The entire CIA element of the show could be written out and it would still be a fun show to watch. But the CIA hunting down the crime families with the FBI gives one additional wrinkle to the fabric of the capers which makes them just a little bit more fun.
Does it have intellectual/artistic value?
Rating: Highs and lows
The storytelling is a little lazy. There are a lot of nonsensical details that the writers threw in for the convenience of plot. For example, Emma Hill’s brother, David Hill (played by Tim Chiou) is running for Senate. He is doing so from Washington, D.C. Senators do not run for Senate in Washington D.C. they run for Senate in the state for which they’re running to represent. But the story needs him to be in D.C. where CIA agents would be. So they just pretend it’s fine and have him in D.C. There are a lot of unrealistic or illogical things like this that can’t quite be excused by the fantasy of the overall storyline. This will ultimately be what disallows The Company You Keep from having longevity.
The acting is perfectly adequate and definitely enough to suspend disbelief. Milo Ventimiglia is familiar and strong as a lead. Catherine Haena Kim is weaker but not a trainwreck. The pair has enough chemistry to be believable but it isn’t exactly leaping from the screen. Felicia Terrell as baddie and rival crime leader, Daphne Finch is the strongest of the female leads in the ensemble and her character build out is growing over time.
Overall, it’s got highs and lows that make for a perfectly adequate TV show.
Is it liberal propaganda?
Rating: More deep state than strictly liberal
There is a sense that the feds are the good guys. The show consistently depicts Emma Hill going off book and stretching the bounds of her legal authority (like wire-taping an American citizen with no criminal record) because of hunches and a sense of moral righteousness. The show celebrates this like it’s the kind of tenacity that proves Emma is good at her job. But really it’s just the kind of thing that has put America in such hot water with these unelected, unregulated bureaucrats running around with guns deciding what rights are real and which aren’t. This show, like many on TV, is deep state shill.