Money problems: Four friends strike it rich in AMC’s ‘Loaded’
Ever since Jed Clampett (Buddy Ebsen) struck oil in the classic series “The Beverly Hillbillies,” television viewers have imagined going from rags to riches in style. Swimming pools. Fancy cars. Lavish vacations. Just about everyone dreams about what they’d spend money on if they suddenly found themselves rich, but a new comedy is serving as a cautionary tale for those who think money can buy happiness.
Four friends struggle with their new status as multimillionaires after they sell their hit iPhone game and video game company in “Loaded,” airing Monday, Aug. 14, on AMC. Unfortunately, the thirtysomethings have more money than sense and end up spending their fortune on frivolous toys, vacations and other nonsensical things as they try to impress those around them.
Based on the Keshet International award-winning Israeli series “Mesudarim” by Muli Segev (“Hayom BaLayla,” 2015) and Assaf Harel (“Shotetut,” 2001), the British comedy was co-produced by Keshet UK, AMC, Channel 4 and Hillbilly Television. Executive producers Kate Norrish (“The Level”) and Polly Leys (“The Full Monty,” 1997) had high praise for the series when the eight-episode deal for the English-language version was announced.
“It is a fresh, funny and pertinent take on four friends trying to cling on to the slats of their friendship in the eye of a hurricane of money and excess,” Norrish and Leys said.
Eight episodes is a pretty short run, even for a summer series, but the talented cast has managed to pack a lot of laughs, and even a little social commentary, into “Loaded.” Jim Howick (“Horrible Histories”) stars as Josh, the leader and moral compass of the group, who almost seems to suffer under the weight of his new wealth.
“No one deserves millions for a cat game that mums play on the toilet,” Josh quips in a trailer for the series.
Still, he hopes to impress ex-girlfriend Abi (Aimee Ffion-Edwards, “Peaky Blinders”) with fancy dinners and charitable donations.
His best friend, Leon, played by Samuel Anderson (“Doctor Who”), is a charismatic snappy dresser who enlisted the help of a barbershop quartet to mock all of the people who refused to invest in the game before the guys hit it big. As the business development director, Leon rewards himself for his success with a Ferrari and other expensive toys.
Jonny Sweet (“Together”) portrays technical whiz Ewan, a sweet and sensitive soul who is in charge of the coding team at Idyl Hands. A stereotypical nerd, Ewan is a tad awkward and feels unrecognized for his contributions.
In contrast, Nick Helm’s (“Uncle”) character, Watto, is a recently sober, over-the-top personality whose artwork graces the team’s hit game Cat Factory. He enjoys the thrill of spending his money flamboyantly, but quickly realizes the things he buys leave him feeling empty.
The main cast also includes American actress Mary McCormack (“The West Wing”) as the guys’ new highpowered boss, Casey, a self-proclaimed “sexy Darth Vader.” The seemingly heartless vice president boasts some of the most memorable lines in the series, including: “There’s only one way to climb to the top: treading on people’s faces.” Scarlett Alice Johnson (“EastEnders”) and Lolly Adefope (“Rovers”) round out the cast.
With people spending more and more time on their phones and tablets, the app and video game business has become a hugely important global industry, and “Loaded” isn’t the first series to take a look at the rise of startup technology companies. Since its North American premiere on AMC Monday, July 17, the comedy has been compared to HBO’s “Silicon Valley,” which also follows friends struggling to develop a product that will make them rich. Created by Mike Judge (“King of the Hill”), John Altschuler (“The Goode Family”) and Dave Krinsky (“Lopez”), the show has been a big hit for HBO, earning a 100 percent approval rating on popular review aggregator website rottentomatoes.com for seasons 2, 3 and 4. Season 4 wrapped up at the end of June, and season 5 is slated to premiere in 2018.
AMC also offers viewers a look at life in the technology industry in “Halt and Catch Fire,” a drama set in the 1980s that presents a fictional account of the beginning of the personal computer revolution. Starring Lee Pace (“The Fall,” 2006), Scoot McNairy (“Monsters,” 2010) and Mackenzie Davis (“The Martian,” 2015), the period piece is scheduled to return to AMC’s prime-time lineup Saturday, Aug. 19.
The “Loaded” collaboration isn’t the first time AMC has partnered with Channel 4. The two networks also worked together on “Humans,” a futuristic science fiction series about anthropomorphic robots known as synths. While “Humans” has been a hit on both sides of the Atlantic, it remains to be seen how the first season of “Loaded” will fare with North American audiences.
The guys from Idyl Hands prove that money may not be everything as they continue to struggle in spite of — or perhaps because of — their newfound wealth. Don’t miss their latest adventure as Leon invites the gang on his luxury yacht in the hopes they’ll focus on developing a new game in a new episode of “Loaded,” airing Monday, Aug. 14, on AMC. What follows is 24 hours of drugs, sex and murder.
Scarlett Alice Johnson in a scene from “Loaded”