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House of Lies Creator/EP Matthew Carnahan Talks Season 4 

Photo Credit: Michael Desmond/SHOWTIME
Photo Credit: Michael Desmond/SHOWTIME

Warning: Spoilers Ahead

The Marty Kaan I know and love is back with a vengeance and I couldn’t be happier. Creator/EP Matthew Carnahan tells us what we can expect from Marty and the rest of Kaan & Associates this season, gives us some intel on this season’s guest stars and previews what’s going on for Marty at home.

Photo Credit: Michael Desmond/SHOWTIME
Photo Credit: Michael Desmond/SHOWTIME

On the heels of his imprisonment, how is Marty recovering from his fall from grace and Jeannie’s double-cross last season?

Matthew Carnahan: “In season 4, Don Cheadle‘s Marty has come down from the mountain, where we last saw him, resolved to be bigger than ever. He’s doubling down. Any ‘enlightenment’ he may have reached last season as the wreckage of his actions crumbled around him now stands in the shadows of his grandiosity.

The desire to grow bigger than ever before, to go global and drive a truckload of explosives through the management consulting world, has set Marty into hyperdrive. It’s Marty at his most Marty: astute, guileful, artfully deceptive, and full-on Machiavellian in his take-no-prisoners approach to wealth-building on the backs of others.

That desire to be huge naturally forces Marty into tangled and emotionally-complex negotiations with Kristen Bell‘s Jeannie. Her shrewd actions last season brought Kaan & Associates under the Department of Justice’s scrutiny and ultimately landed Marty in handcuffs, charged with collusion for insider trading. We start season 4 with Marty and Jeannie working together again.

Everything seems back to a new ‘normal,’ as if there is no bad blood between them. As if Marty hadn’t fallen into bed with Jeannie for the first time and confessed his love for her hours before discovering in the most publicly shameful way she betrayed him on the business front. Gradually, we learn that the well is still poisoned. In fact, during the many months between then and now, Marty copped a plea deal with the Feds that has allowed him a chance to return to consulting work in exchange for a stint in Federal prison.

Photo Credit: Michael Desmond/SHOWTIME
Photo Credit: Michael Desmond/SHOWTIME

This way forward has complicated everything meaningful in Marty’s life. It’s severed business relationships and cut deep into his bottom line. The thick air of distrust surrounding Jeannie in the fallout also threatens what little business they’ve managed to secure. And perhaps the most difficult compromise for Marty is it forced him to be away from his son, Donis Leonard Jr.‘s Roscoe, during a critical transition in his mid-teens. In Marty’s absence, Roscoe developed a life of his own away from home and became a bit of a wily entrepreneur like his father.”

Photo Credit: Michael Desmond/SHOWTIME
Photo Credit: Michael Desmond/SHOWTIME

What is happening at Kaan & Associates?

Matthew: “Kaan & Associates is dying. Many of Marty’s clients jumped ship in the wake of his arrest and imprisonment, leaving him and the Pod scraping the bottom of the barrel to keep the lights on. This means the shop is taking on second-tier clients it never would have given the time of day to before in lieu of bigger engagements.

Marty’s even had to rent out a big section of his downtown office space to a start-up company, ‘Yo, Where’s the Party?’ App — two very different species attempting to coexist in the same ecosystem — much to his displeasure. But Marty has his sights set on a very big fish in the beginning of season 4 who promises a payday that could set everything back and breathe new life to K&A’s fortunes.”

Photo Credit: Michael Desmond/SHOWTIME
Photo Credit: Michael Desmond/SHOWTIME

Jeannie is pregnant! Will we learn who the father is? How will her pregnancy affect her life with Marty and her work at Kaan & Associates?

Matthew: “Jeannie’s super pregnant, for sure. We will learn who the father is this season in a way that hopefully turns the well-worn ‘Who’s the Daddy?’ trope on its head. For one, we come into season 4 well into Jeannie’s pregnancy. There’s a lot of fun to be had with leaning into some of the gross and uncomfortable moments women experience during pregnancy — a particular treat with Kristen Bell’s acerbic wit and comedic timing.

There’s also a unique opportunity to explore questions that powerful women in the corporate world are forced to ask. Seldom does one quiz a top male executive on how he plans to balance work and family. Is it fair that businesswomen are still held to a different standard? What remains of Jeannie’s hard-charging approach to life throughout the pregnancy, and how the pregnancy itself impacts her relationship with Marty, we want audiences to tune in to discover.

Tell us about guest stars Demetri Martin, Valorie Curry, Mary McCormack and Alicia Witt. How will their characters affect the Pod this season? 

Matthew: “Demetri Martin joins House of Lies this season as maverick inventor and electric car scion, Ellis Hightower. He’s a man-boy genius with a messiah complex. If Marty can close business with Ellis, it will not only rake in millions for K&A, but also give Marty’s shop the legitimacy it so desperately needs to get back on top. Alicia Witt plays a brilliant Earth-mother engineer. Valorie Curry plays a young and edgy code writer for the app company housed in K&A’s workspace. She strikes up a new business venture and a complicated friendship with Doug  and Clyde. Mary McCormack plays activist investor Denna Altshuler, who operates a voracious billion-dollar hedge fund.”

Photo Credit: Michael Desmond/SHOWTIME
Photo Credit: Michael Desmond/SHOWTIME

Ellis Hightower seems like Marty’s saving grace. What will he contribute to Marty’s bottom line?

Matthew: “In the world of corporate high stakes, nothing is as it appears. Certainly, Marty is betting on Ellis Hightower’s Gage Motors to save K&A from bankruptcy. However, shepherding a company on the verge of disruptive innovation in the automotive industry to bigger profits, headed up by a megalomaniac drunk off his own press, has its challenges.”

Younger brother Malcolm the activist is back to aggravate Marty. How will his return alter the fabric of the Kaan household? How is their family unit unique to today’s television landscape?

Matthew: “It’s a thrill to have Larenz Tate returning in his role as Marty’s younger brother, Malcolm Kaan. Malcolm has always been sort of a mirror to Marty. While he ostensibly shuns Marty’s worship of material success, Malcolm relishes in some aspects of it whenever convenient and, in his own subversive way, is every bit the opportunist.

It’s always a little bit unclear how much of Malcolm’s activist rap he actually believes and how much he’s using simply to achieve some secret agenda. It’s that particular shade of gray that adds another interesting layer to Marty’s family life. This season, Malcolm resurfaces on the cable news circuit in the wake of Marty’s imprisonment, pimping out a book he wrote touching on the subject.

While the tastes of television audiences are constantly evolving, there’s still a dearth of complex, nuanced portrayals of black multi-generational families on television. Absent especially are portrayals of black men at the heart of a show allowed to be themselves without race or class as a constant lodestar.

Sometimes, raising a teenager and co-parenting with a grandparent looks the same in anyone’s family. That said, in the deeply polarized society we live in, even when race isn’t an issue, it’s an issue. To shy away from the truth of that would be akin to robbing our audience of an opportunity to find emotional truth in our stories, wherever we may find it.”

Photo Credit: Michael Desmond/SHOWTIME
Photo Credit: Michael Desmond/SHOWTIME

Any hints you can give viewers about what’s to come this season?

Matthew: “The Marty Kaan many know and love is back, more ruthless than ever, pulling off some of his most elaborate business heists yet. Jeannie is having a baby! Clyde explores love outside his comfort zone. Doug’s relationship with Jenny Slate‘s Sarah takes an even more unusual turn. Roscoe becomes king of his school in a move ripped right out of his father’s playbook. Malcolm returns to Los Angeles, further aggravating tensions at home for Marty.”

“At the end of the day, reality wins” synopsis, from Showtime:

In the season 4 opener, Marty is back with a vengeance – ready to grow Kaan & Associates and conquer the consulting world.  Revelations of what has occurred since last season begin to explain the ‘new normal’ at K&A. Marty lays down the law to a pregnant Jeannie on her future with the company, and the Pod leaves one client in pursuit of a much bigger payday.

Season 4 of House of Lies premieres Sunday, January 11th at 10/9c on Showtime.


Series recap:

This season on House of Lies:

Season 4 premiere (full episode):

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