Hit or Sh**: AMC’s LOADED

In this Crossfader series, our intricate and complex rating system will tell you definitively whether new television pilots are worth your valuable time. We call it: HIT OR SH**.

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Winning the lottery sucks. Yes, being poor objectively sucks more, but as studies of lottery winners have shown, a poor person’s demons rarely die from a cash injection. The message there is that money doesn’t change one’s personality; it merely amplifies it. This magnification of character composes the heart of LOADED, AMC’’s latest series about a British crew of childhood friends who earn 14 million pounds each by selling a mobile game to an American tech giant. With its characters and premise largely borrowed from SILICON VALLEY with a splash of ENTOURAGE, LOADED does very little to distinguish itself from its powerful comedic ancestors.

Lack of individuality weighs this pilot down more than anything. Our core quartet of techie heroes consists of: Josh (Jim Howick), the joyless wet blanket that inexplicably holds the status of de facto leader; Leon (Samuel Anderson), the energetic wild card who cops a Ferarri and a mansion on his first day of wealth; Ewan (Jonny Sweet), the extra-awkward coder who’s feeling uncomfortable in the limelight; and Watto (Nick Helm), the slovenly addict who’s coasting off of having the one idea that made them rich. The first three are carbon copies of SILICON VALLEY’s Richard, Erlich, and Jared, respectively, while Watto is a blend of Big Head and Gilfoyle. The unoriginality of these characters would be more tolerable had they been given funnier jokes.

I do wonder how many burnout best friends have been told, “No, you cannot vape in the Ferrari.”

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I can’t say that LOADED is outright laughless. There were a few lines, mostly from their new hardass American boss Casey (Mary McCormack), that brought a smile to my face. But some of the character’s schtick just doesn’t seem like it could ever live up to expectation. Ewan’s awkwardly robotic politeness just can’t shake the feeling of Dollar Store Zach Woods, and Leon’s big gag thus far has been hiring a barber shop quartet to sing “suck my balls” at investors who passed them over. Maybe I’m jaded, but that seems so tepid for a wild card’s grand “fuck you” move.

The distinguishing element that gives this any distance from SILICON VALLEY is supposed to be the money. While Richard and company have fruitlessly toiled for four seasons, Josh’s band of nerds were given blank checks on day one. The writers reduce the impact of that wealth to hackneyed “what a wacky thing to buy” jokes, with Leon and Watto making reckless purchases that will bite them in the ass later because I guess we still pretend that karma is not only immediate but always perfectly ironic, though the less traditional wealth jokes given to Josh and Ewan don’t work much better. An extended joke about Josh buying his parents an unwanted luxury vacation comes across far too dry for an opening joke, and Ewan getting pressured into giving away half a million pounds in bonuses works at first, but ultimately feels weightless. What’s left is jokes about the character’s personalities, which again are too indistinct to make jokes about.

Jared eats these motherfucker’s lunch. He literally eats their food

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Normally I’d avoid using the greatness of one show as reason to bash another. There’s always room for more television, and the intricacies of an industry that’s existed for a mere decade is hardly an exhausted subject. But so much of LOADED feels like an audacious aping of the SILICON VALLEY formula, and their occasional efforts to deviate from that formula fall painfully flat. I can’t say with surety that LOADED will be a stinker; Casey announces at the pilot’s end that she’s coming out to London, which could be the adrenaline shot to the heart this series desperately needs. But unless she rockets to the show’s forefront and does something incredible, I can’t see this becoming anything more than a show for people without an HBO subscription.

Verdict: Sh**

LOADED airs on AMC on Mondays

Dan Blomquist

Dan Blomquist is a guest contributor for Crossfader and writes about important things sometimes, but mostly about television. He believes that memes are the future and that free will is an illusion.

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