Alex Gibney’s six-part docuseries is a thorough and damning exploration of financial corruption and corporate greed.
This review of Dirty Money Season 2 contains some minor spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
The power of prolific documentarian Alex Gibney’s Dirty Money Season 2, six new hour-long episodes of an investigative series that began in 2018, is not just that it exposes rampant greed and financial corruption but that it, in some way, makes us complicit in it. How else could preened, duplicitous narcissists build their fortunes? Swindlers need someone to swindle, after all, and thanks to the allure of a well-organized marketing campaign and an endlessly divided popular culture, we queue up for lies and exploitation just as readily as toilet paper in the face of a viral pandemic.
While the six well-researched and snappily-paced installments of Dirty Money Season 2 cover a range of topics, this essential truth remains in each of them, and most particularly in an attention-grabbing centerpiece, “Slumlord Millionaire”, which takes a sniper’s aim at the President’s son-in-law and senior White House advisor Jared Kushner. That hour’s scathing portrait is so intimately tied to current politics that one gets the sense Kushner could be seen eating the poor tenants his dodgy companies exploit for profits and nobody would particularly care.
But Dirty Money and its concise, fact-based style make it difficult to blithely excuse the financial conspiracies it’s unpacking, despite a pretty obvious political agenda. Most episodes include a figure of right-minded resistance among the interviewees, lending the documentary series a narrative rhythm and obvious heroes to battle its villains. But this doesn’t detract from how self-evident its conclusions are, and how clearly it illuminates financial systems that are ripe for mistreatment. Perhaps now is the time to emulate some of the figures in Dirty Money Season 2 who speak the truth to power at great risk to themselves, and be willing to say when enough is enough.
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Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.