By the Blouin News Politics staff

TV meets reality: ‘House Of Lies’ & U.S.-Cuba Relations

by in Americas.

(Source: Nick Kenrick/flickr)

(Source: Nick Kenrick/flickr)

In addition to periodic coverage of geopolitics in Latin America, W. Alejandro Sanchez has previously reported on substance abuse in Netflix’s ‘Jessica Jones’ and whether cyber warfare is accurately depicted in the USA network’s ‘Mr. Robot.’ 

The series finale of the Showtime series ‘House of Lies’ will premiere this Sunday, June 12. The episode, entitled “No Es Fácil” (“It isn’t easy”), will have the team of four “rapaciously cutthroat management consultants,” led by Don Cheadle and Kristen Bell, travel to Cuba in order to “capitalize on Cuba’s emerging market.”

Case in point: Carnival Corp.’s Adonia docked in Cuba’s Cienfuegos port in early May, becoming the first U.S. cruise to visit the island in four decades. This was a major victory for cultural diplomacy. Meanwhile, as explained in a March 25 article in Los Angeles Times, various U.S. companies (including importers of agricultural goods, Paypal and airlines) regard the island as a new market with major potential.

But while the Obama administration has managed to lift several restrictions on U.S.-Cuba relations, a process that began with President Obama’s historic December 17, 2014, speech, most trade-related aspects of the embargo remain in place.

For the record, the embargo only affects U.S.-Cuba relations, as the rest of the world maintains commercial relations with the Caribbean island. For example, the Brazilian government invested in the upgrade of Cuba’s Mariel port. Meanwhile, Japan’s Mitsubishi Corp. recently opened an office there to beat American industries. Even the British government, the other half of the “special relationship,” has maintained trade relations with the Communist regime. In 2015 a delegation of 32 British companies travelled to Cuba for an economic forum – the British media stated that said industries will invest USD$400 million in projects in Cuba “in areas that reportedly include agriculture, tourist infrastructure and energy.”

It is worth noting that thanks to the December 2014 Obama speech and the reopening of embassies, Hollywood is increasing its activities in the island. ‘House of Lies’ can boast of being the first U.S.-scripted show to film in Cuba, but another U.S. network already taped there in 2015. Last year, the U.S. talk show ‘Conan’ filmed an episode in the country – Time explains that “the last time an American show of its kind visited the country was in 1959, when Jack Paar of the Tonight Show interviewed Fidel Castro.” (The Discovery Channel filmed a docu-series ‘Cuban Chrome’ in the island, but its website notes that “production access was granted prior to the United States announcing it would restore full diplomatic relations with Cuba”). It may be just a matter of time before we see some big-budget Hollywood production film in the Caribbean island.

As a final point, it is important to stress that a degree of government censorship will be at play in the show’s finale. CBS This Morning reported that the show’s producers had to obtain both U.S. and Cuban government authorization for the trip. Even more, ‘House of Lies’ producer Jessica Borsickzy acknowledged that “you don’t just come to Cuba and shoot whatever you want,” hence the show submitted “a script and an outline” which was reviewed by Havana. In other words, we will see plenty of Cuban cars, music and neighborhood parties but probably no reference to dissidence or anti-government organizations.

‘House of Lies’ will come to an end after five seasons. While it was not a mega TV hit, it enjoyed a following and obtained awards like a 2013 Golden Globe and a 2014 Emmy. The show followed four strong-willed, no-nonsense, backstabbing management consultants that stopped at nothing in order to make a (multimillion dollar) profit. Hence, it is fitting that its final episode will take them to what is arguably the final frontier of U.S. investment nowadays.

Early in the series, Don Cheadle’s character Marty Kaan philosophically declared “I just taught you the most important thing that I know. You never ever trust anyone. Until you know their angle. And now you know” (Episode “Veritas”). Soon we will find out if fictional management consultants can trust the Cuban government, while we continue to observe if real life Washington and Cuban policymakers can trust each other.

 – W. Alejandro Sanchez, researcher
@W_Alex_Sanchez | Blog: Geopolitics