A Worrisome Lack Of Balling Mars The Latest Season Of 'Ballers'

 Don’t let Spencer’s fancy accoutrements fool you, the purse strings have tightened on this season of  Ballers .

Don’t let Spencer’s fancy accoutrements fool you, the purse strings have tightened on this season of Ballers.

It brings me no joy to report that Ballers — an HBO “comedy”-drama about the flashy lifestyles of pro football players — has lost its way.

Now in its fourth year, this show exists for two reasons: One, because The Rock has a lot of Instagram followers, and two, because peasants like to gawk at opulence — authentic or otherwise. For a half hour every Sunday night, we shut off our brains and marinate in low-stakes story lines and the fast-paced, luxury lifestyles of a handful of fictional ballers. (FYI the term “baller” is a homonym, in this case referring to both players of ball-based sports and also persons who live lavishly.) Money, cars, clothes, and what have you.

The latest season, like the others before it, focuses on retired player Spencer Strasmore (The Rock), his partner Joe and their efforts to get an athlete money management business off the ground. Or maybe it’s a sports agency. Something with social media? I don’t know, it genuinely does not matter. What’s important here is that the level of balling on Ballers is plummeting faster than sperm counts in the Western world.

Early episodes featured designer drug-fueled parties with big-name guest stars on giant yachts. Wolf of Wall Street stuff. Now the most expensive thing in any given episode is probably Spencer’s pair of sunglasses. Look at these images from the pilot episode:

 Haute living, luxury transportation.

Haute living, luxury transportation.

 Spoiler alert this Range does not feature standard interior.

Spoiler alert this Range does not feature standard interior.

 A proud Super Bowl champion in the driver’s seat of his Bentley wearing the only item of clothing worthy of gracing that supple leather, a designer fox fur vest.

A proud Super Bowl champion in the driver’s seat of his Bentley wearing the only item of clothing worthy of gracing that supple leather, a designer fox fur vest.

 Presumably real gold!

Presumably real gold!

 Fast car, no Tracy Chapman.

Fast car, no Tracy Chapman.

 The chair in the foreground, which appears to be made from a near-extinct snow leopard or perhaps a rare type of zebra, cost more than the home itself.

The chair in the foreground, which appears to be made from a near-extinct snow leopard or perhaps a rare type of zebra, cost more than the home itself.

 Casual afternoon fishing trip.

Casual afternoon fishing trip.

Now try to stay awake as we sift through some decidedly less opulent images from the latest episode:

 These are your ballers on drugs.

These are your ballers on drugs.

 “Hi I’m Derek and this is my partner Braxton. We put cases on our iPads.”

“Hi I’m Derek and this is my partner Braxton. We put cases on our iPads.”

 Baller meeting with the secretary about the importance of maintaining physical records in the digital age.

Baller meeting with the secretary about the importance of maintaining physical records in the digital age.

 From business meetings on yachts in season one to desperate attempts to boost millennial morale at their beach-themed WeWork in season four.

From business meetings on yachts in season one to desperate attempts to boost millennial morale at their beach-themed WeWork in season four.

 An underdressed Charles Greane loiters around a construction site.

An underdressed Charles Greane loiters around a construction site.

 "Relaxing dinner at a modest family home” isn’t what I think of when “Right Above It” hits.

"Relaxing dinner at a modest family home” isn’t what I think of when “Right Above It” hits.

Take a moment to compose yourself. Now you understand the severity of this identity crisis. On a show rooted in eye-pleasing excess, balling has become an afterthought. But it’s not too late to turn this ship around. Bring back the flash or risk losing at least loyal viewer who occasionally tweets about the show. Either that or just do re-runs of the first two seasons, we probably wouldn’t notice. |ES|