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Mace & Crown | December 17, 2017

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ABC’s ‘Madoff’ is Trying to Steal Your Time

ABC’s ‘Madoff’ is Trying to Steal Your Time
George Plank
Staff Writer

On Feb. 3, ABC premiered their newest 4-episode miniseries, “Madoff.” The show is based on the real life actions of Bernie Madoff– investment broker, NASDAQ Chairman and Ponzi scheme architect.

The show tells about the events from the point of view of Mr. Madoff. The style is comparable to “The Wolf of Wall Street” where we see the central actor, without any remorse, breaking the fourth wall. Bernie Madoff, played by Academy-Award winning actor Richard Dreyfuss, talks directly to the audience, detailing activities in step-by-step directions, destroying any sense of immersion for the audience.

“Madoff” joins the ranks of FXNOW’s current show, “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story,” and the 2013 film, “The Wolf of Wall Street,” as a drama about controversial, real-life events with a Hollywood spin. Events are altered to protect innocent parties and to facilitate a more straightforward plot, but perhaps these people are put in a better light than they deserve.

The miniseries glamorizes the illegal acts of Bernie Madoff and characterizes him as a plucky underdog fighting the establishment. He revels in the fact that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is too inept to catch him and openly mocks them.

All characters in the show who attempt to defame Bernie Madoff and reveal his illegal undertakings are played as sniveling, pencil-pushing wimps. They are unable to sway anyone’s opinion of Bernie, even though they have decisive evidence against him.

American viewers in the past have reacted positively to this style of media. By painting real-life criminals as rebels and highly motivated people, the filmmakers and producers can spin news headlines to fit their 3-act structure.

“Madoff” is written with the assumption the average viewer has some knowledge of the ordeal with Bernie L. Madoff Investment Securities, LLC. There will be those who have no idea what they are watching is based on a true story or that there were people affected by Madoff’s actions.

Madoff, as a person, ruined the lives and livelihoods of many people. “Madoff,” as a show, is comparatively harmless. If the viewer wants to watch rich people suffer, then this miniseries might be worth their time. If viewers are hoping for something similar to “The Wolf of Wall Street,” they may be sorely disappointed.

Without the humor or even a sense of irony, the show is about as painful as watching Scrooge McDuck get audited. With all of its episodes combined, the show only runs about three hours. “Madoff” aired on Feb. 3 and 4, but all four episodes are available to stream on ABC.GO.com.