Ballers: S03E06 “I Hate New York”

Grade: B

For those who aren’t watching, Ballers is a fun show. It’s got The Rock and Rob Corddry and Richard Schiff. It has well-phrased financial advice:

It’s even Elizabeth Warren’s favorite TV show!

Underneath all the football hijinks, it also has something interesting to say. Ballers is, primarily, an exploration of the difference between social class and economic class. The tension between them is what drives the show. All the ballers on Ballers are talented, driven, hardworking people, and that’s made them rich. But, as the show constantly points out, money still isn’t the same as power.

Every episode hammers that home in a different way. Last night’s episode was all about how arbitrary the idea of social class can be. We’re used to the idea that Spencer and Joe are excluded from it. But Bret Anderson — who they’ve always considered the epitome of social class — turns out to also be excluded, by his own brother.

This is what, ultimately, drives their rejection of his funding offer. At first, I was right there with Joe — why turn down money you don’t even have to work for? But Spencer and Bret aren’t in it for the money, they’re in it for the acceptance. They don’t want to hand this project over to entrenched power. They want to be the new power.

Charles’s plotline plays into this too. I don’t know enough about football to know how realistic this front office/head coach feud is, but at the end of the day, Charles is also realizing that what he thought was powerful about his job is an illusion. He’s just there to make his manager look good, whether by giving him credit for good picks or by taking the fall in firing the coach. It rankles, and honestly, it should. (Although I am never not here for Julie Greane’s indignant dismay.)

Also, I’m glad we’re finally getting a plotline around post-concussion syndrome. It always felt like a cop-out when Spencer didn’t have it in season 1, so I hope Ballers sticks with it this time.

Anyone else watch this? What did you think?