Show hinges on one's tolerance level for a comedian whose grating style still fills concert halls.
Near the outset of “Eddie Griffin: Going for Broke,” the loud-mouthed comic meets with his accountant (“Morty,” of course), who outlines his problem: While Griffin had after-tax earnings of $4.3 million, his profligate spending exceeded that. What’s a fella to do? A reality show, inevitably, where his mother, Doris, chides Griffin as he goes about pursuing his lavish lifestyle. Staged and unconvincing, the show mostly hinges on one’s tolerance level for a comedian whose grating style, improbably, still fills concert halls.
Based on the show, anyway, Griffin is for the most part an unabashed testimonial to irresponsible behavior, having fathered eight kids by various women — a brood he’s supporting financially, including two ex-wives and an extended posse (let’s not use the word “entourage”) of parasitic family and friends.
Griffin’s mom is presented as the voice of reason, urging him (in the second half-hour) to get a vasectomy and grilling a 22-year-old college student whom the 41-year-old “Undercover Brother” star brings home to dinner.
Based on a “concept by” Griffin, the series somewhat awkwardly features the comic delivering his direct-to-camera testimonials in front of a curtain, as if the show is merely an extension of his standup act. Which, come to think of it, it sort of is.
As is so often the case, though, Griffin wants to have it both ways, ostentatiously flaunting his lavish possessions — such as overhead pool, allowing him to ogle female guests from what appears to be his living room — while gaining a measure of sympathy for his efforts to save money amid all those eagerly digging through his pockets. Beyond mom, it’s a pretty nondescript group, and the question of whether Eddie can get by on the $4.3 mil — or winds up “broke” — is both lacking in suspense and, in this economy, a trifle distasteful.
Exhibiting the producers’ unseen hands, Griffin blanches at the vasectomy suggestion but — because it’s good TV — goes ahead and meets with the doctor.
If VH1 is looking to spruce up its besmirched celeb-reality profile, it could probably start with a judicious snip or two of its own.