In the tradition of “Gigolos,” “3AM” is a Showtime “docu-series” that’s pretty much “docu” in name only – arrestingly shot, but more performance art than documentary. Focusing on five disparate characters who each toil and/or party well into the night (hence the title), this latenight entry takes the “city that never sleeps” line and runs with it. The result is visually provocative but only mildly entertaining, and never for a moment truly convincing.
The quintet of characters includes an escort (this time of the female variety, pictured), club doorman, party photographer and social media personality named Josh, who goes by the name Fat Jew. The fifth, a deejay, isn’t featured in the premiere.
The title seeks to convey the impression that strange things happen at night while those who work the day shift slumber, especially around the designated hour. But that’s a flimsy construct employed for the purpose of presenting titillating moments, such as the photographer getting women to expose themselves (usually with an assist from alcohol, he admits) or the escort, Sam, having sex with her “clients,” their faces obscured but plenty else visible. “Most of my relationships only last an hour or two,” she quips, later noting that her parents don’t know about her moonlighting. Hey, enjoy that Showtime subscription, mom and dad!
All the characters, alas, give the impression of posturing for the cameras, which generally offsets the effect of the gritty photography and dreamy music used to set the mood. Each of the seven episodes, moreover, will take place over the course of a single night and build toward a “3 a.m. moment,” which at least in this context doesn’t mean a phone call regarding an international crisis.
Somewhat incongruously, the project’s producers include “Law & Order” patriarch Dick Wolf, who has made a pretty fabulous career out of conjuring fictionalized versions of the terrible things that can happen in the Big Apple. “There’s nothing like this on TV,” he says in the press notes.
That’s less a description of “3AM,” frankly, than an apparent admission that he doesn’t stay up to watch much of what airs on its host network after 11 p.m.