NUNN'S THEATER HABIT
American Gigolo doesn’t hook audiences like it should
Wed. January 25, 2023 12:00 AM
by Jerry Nunn
Showtime series American Gigolo is inspired by the 1980 film of the same name. Julian Kaye survives 15 years in prison after a wrongful conviction and returns to familiar territory once freed as a male escort. Times have changed in Los Angeles and Kaye explores that plus a lot more over the course of eight episodes.
Actor Jon Bernthal drums up some strong emotions as the lead and really grounds the piece.
Rosie O'Donnell gives a strong performance as lesbian detective Joan Sunday that is reminiscent in some ways of her role in HBO's I Know This Much Is True as Lisa Sheffer. Her dating scene with a gym attendant that she banters with is actually quite absorbing. O'Donnell delivers her lines with a matter-of-fact attitude that translates well.
The Richard Gere movie was the first mainstream film to include frontal male nudity from its star and there is plenty of nudity to go around here in this series. Many men in the business don't limit themselves to just women and that could be explored in future seasons if they happen. Some of the most interesting parts in the series is when Kaye is managing his client's mental health issues. He navigates his own rules while trying to keep his customers happy in the process.
The backstory of Kaye is gut-wrenching as viewers can clearly see how the kid is doomed since birth with troubled family history and environment. It is easy to feel sympathy for Kaye with those puppy dog eyes and a sense of conflict.
The problem is the ending doesn't have the payoff that the series needs and those that have stuck with it may feel gipped. A second season does not appear to be in the works so far from the esteemed network. Is this Gigolo dead in its tracks or possibly have room to grow?