American Greed is CNBC‘s flagship show, and also its most addictive. Now in its 14th season, the series tells incredible stories about crimes in the business world, all perfectly narrated by actor Stacy Keach. There’s a reason that the show is in reruns in near-perpetuity: once you start watching, you can’t stop.
The caveat of that, though, is that the bar is set pretty high and so American Greed is ripping some of the biggest stories out of the headlines. Tonight’s season premiere focuses on Michael Avenatti, the high-powered attorney who became a national sensation when he represented Stormy Daniels in her lawsuit against President Donald Trump. Likewise, it’s a fairly sensational episode.
“The Trials of Michael Avenatti” follows the usual format of starting off with a major hook, then working backwards to show you who the subject is and how they got to where they are today. One of the interesting segments digs into his former business relationship with Grey’s Anatomy star Patrick Dempsey (though, for motorsports fans, it doesn’t really go into how Avenatti was at one point a co-principal of Dempsey’s race team).
Another eyebrow-arching moment comes when CNBC reveals a lengthy letter from Avenatti’s own attorney that shows up on-screen as simply a massive wall of text. It ends with the sentence, “We demand all of this be included in the episode.” Well, it technically was, but it looks ridiculous to see the entire screen covered in fine print (which is possibly the point).
American Greed has done some massive stories over the last two seasons, from this to the College Admissions Scandal, and so chances are you already know at least a little of what you’re about to see. In fact, some of it hasn’t been resolved yet. But the episode accomplishes its goal of showing how Avenatti’s fame, and his legal issues, extend well beyond the infamous Trump lawsuit. It points out his involvement in several major stories over the last decade. And, of course, Keach’s narration is still spot-on perfect.
That’s why this series has gone on so long and why it’s still so watchable: it puts together pieces that the audience didn’t even know they were looking for. Once you’ve seen this episode, you won’t look at the Michael Avenatti story in the same way.
American Greed airs Mondays at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT on CNBC. You can watch the first ten minutes of this episode below.
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