On Sunday night, the world saw the premiere of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s HBO show, the football bro-medy drama-doo-bee-doo-bee-doo Ballers. In what felt like the longest short pilot in history, viewers were treated to lesson numero uno in what it means to really ball. Do these guys have what it takes to ball? Let’s find out.
Episode one begins, like all television programs, with what we would traditionally describe as an intro sequence (industry talk). In the Ballers intro sequence we are treated to a football montage (industry talk), which includes real footage of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson playing football, in addition to some other people playing sports, training hard, balling hard, and doing other things with heightened physical intensity. In this montage, we capture a frame of The Rock bestowing his beatific smile on what appears to be a group of adoring fans. In the background, Lil Wayne’s “Right Above It” plays.
This is a one hundred percent perfect, FDA-certified, baller-ass smile. Ten out of ten balls awarded.
As we wade through the show’s muddy writing, we eventually learn that Johnson is some sort of former football player-turned-financial planner named Spencer Strassmore. Spencer Strassmore suffered a painful injury during his former football days, which we know about because this guy is literally chewing pills every time we see him. What pills? Who knows? Do we care? Right now. . .no, we do not. Because it is time to ball.
In the opening sequence, Strassmore wakes up next to a naked lady and pours about 30 to 60 pills into his hand, munching them like they’re Teddy Grahams. This is a very baller thing to do. He is awarded seven out of ten balls for this act of complete wanton disregard for his medical health.
Moving on, we meet a football player—a footballer. This particular footballer is driving a car with an attractive woman in the passenger seat; she is his mistress. In a matter of seconds she has confessed her love for him, grabbed his dick, punched him in the face, and caused him to careen off the road. They both quickly die in a horrific car accident.
This is a terrible tragedy and thus, it is not baller. Zero out of ten balls are given. Death is not a joke.
As Strassmore performs a eulogy for the fallen baller, a woman in the crowd flashes her panties at him. Medium level baller. Five out of ten balls. The man to her right appears smug and solemn all at once. He, independent of the panties woman and The Rock, is afforded one solitary bonus ball for his cool facial expression. Good work.
As a financial planner (or whatever he is, we’re still mostly unclear), Strassmore is also very good about giving advice to his friends and other loose ballers; he doles out this advice liberally and generously, often before anyone has asked. At a hot, exclusive party at one of Miami’s fakest looking nightclubs, Strassmore tells a group of men standing around a valet area with lots and lots of fancy cars, “First piece of free advice, y’all gotta listen. Y’all make millions. Never buy a depreciating asset. If it drives, flies, floats, or fucks, lease it. Let’s go have fun.” That was a weak-ass thing to say before going to a party, but whatever works, man! Ball hard.
Having fun: sounds like they’re about to ball. Free advice? Not a baller move. We’ll give this one four out of ten balls.
Big trouble—as is commonplace in the lives of ballers—is afoot. At the hot, exclusive Miami nightclub where the ballers find themselves that night, good footballer Ricky Jerret gets himself into an altercation with a pink-shirted man who had some fucked up shit to say. If you’re asking me, the pink-shirted goon deserved a punch to the face. Perhaps you aren’t asking me and you’d rather just watch the show. Either way—if you’re on a football team, punching a stranger in the face at the club is not good business. You take the balling with the not balling, and you hope to make it out the other side.
Punching a guy at the club: baller. Getting cut from the team: not baller. Three out of ten balls for Ricky Jerret.
Unfortunately for Ricky Jerret, there is more to the story.
Ricky Jerret’s girlfriend’s shirt has several holes in it and that seems really unnecessary. Things are not looking good for Jerret so far on the pilot of this show. Three balls now seems like too many. Two out of ten balls awarded.
To make things even worse for Ricky Jerret, he shows up at 5:01 p.m. to his 5 p.m. meeting with the coach of the Miami Dolphins. What do you think you are, some sort of superstar baller who has golddust in his pee? No, my friend. You are not. You are downgraded to one out of ten balls.
“Do you think you are some sort of baller, my friend?”
The tide turns for Jerret, however, when he decides to do an unballer-like thing and wait it out for the coach of the Miami Dolphins to return from his boat outing to have a later meeting. This impresses the coach of the Miami Dolphins in that he realizes Jerret is also humble, while still remaining a baller deep down. He gets a spot on the team after professing that the three most important things to him are “God, family, football.” Eight out of ten balls.
Now Ricky Jerret needs someone to handle his cash. He calls up Spencer Strassmore, wearing a big ole Super Bowl ring and a cool blue sweater. Looking fresh as hell: ten out of ten balls.
Strassmore is down, he can do anything Jerret needs. Of course he can! He is the king of the ballers, after all! No problem—let’s do this.
Except, as he chatters on about trust and assuredness, we learn only too soon that—TWIST—the biggest baller of them all is a fraud, a liar, an empty-pocketed scam artist. Strassmore’s bank account is as useless as a deflated football during the Super Bowl. This oversight reduces him to Zero out of ten balls.
Ballers episode one balling average: 6.42 plus 1 bonus ball.