Review: Amazon scores with original series Sneaky Pete

Giovanni Ribisi participates in the BUILD Speaker Series to discuss his Amazon series "Sneaky Pete" at AOL Studios on Thursday, Feb. 2, 2017, in New York. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)

SPOILER ALERT: 

I’m relatively new to watching television on a streaming service (I’ve never had a Netflix, Hulu or anything of the sort) and only recently did I get Amazon Prime. Little did I know that when I signed up for a free student trial of Amazon Prime, I would be so enchanted by one of the streaming service’s original series, Sneaky Pete.

Although the pilot was originally released in August 2015, the 10-episode premier season of Sneaky Pete was released in its entirety on Amazon on January 13, 2017. I’m usually not the type of person to binge-watch a show, but after watching the first few episodes of Sneaky Pete I was hooked. I watched the last eight episodes of season one in just about 24 hours.

The series, a crime drama somewhat similar to White Collar, begins with con-man Marius Josipovic, played by Giovanni Ribisi, in a penitentiary listening to his inmate Pete Murphy droning on and on about his wealthy grandparents’ farm house and his perfect life as child. Marius gets sick of Pete’s stories and tells him to shut up, relieved that he won’t have to listen to him for much longer as he will be free to leave soon. Josipovic uses a phone call to make sure his brother will pick him up from the bus station, only to find out that the brothers still owes $100,000 to mob boss Vince Lonigan, played by Bryan Cranston (also an executive producer), which means Marius can’t go back home safely.

After manipulating and finding his way to none other than Pete’s grandparents, who haven’t seen their grandson in 20 years, Marius knocks on their door looking for refuge pretending to be Pete. Marius, using his knowledge from all of Pete’s stories, keeps up his act in hopes of conning the family for their money to pay Vince. However, what he doesn’t know is that Pete’s grandparents are not in fact as wealthy as Pete thought they were. On top of that, Pete’s cousins, who are in on the family bail bonds business, are all insane in their own way, which sets up for a crazy season as Marius tries to get the money.

There are so many good qualities about Sneaky Pete, it’s hard to pinpoint its best feature. I’ll start with the cast, headlined by Ribisi and Cranston. Ribisi, who has played a variety of roles throughout his career (including Phoebe’s brother in Friends), was absolutely incredible. His ability to maneuver his way through the two personalities he played made the show as great as it was. Though Cranston only had a recurring role in season one, he too played his role admirably. Cranston, also known for numerous and quite different roles in his career, stepped out of the executive producer’s chair every now and then, nailing his job as mob boss.

The soundtrack of the show was excellent as well, especially the title theme “Harder Out Here” by The Bright Light Social Hour. It sets the tone of the show superbly, along with several other songs placed in just the right moments throughout the first season. One of my personal favorite songs that came out of season one of Sneaky Pete was “The Look” by Metronomy, which played at the very end of episode three, “Mr. Success.” The brilliance of the closing scene matched with the song playing over it really locked me in to the show, leading to my binge watching session over the next day.

All in all, I have to give Sneaky Pete five out of five stars for its first season. The acting was superb, the soundtrack was fantastic and the cinematography and camera angle choices by the producers were all vital to making Sneaky Pete an all-around incredible show. Amazon Video really hit the bullseye with the production of the series and I will be anxiously awaiting another season, which was renewed within a week of season one’s release.


Chris Hanna is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at christopher.hanna@uconn.edu. He tweets @realchrishanna