Monday, March 13, 2017

Money & Violence Seasons 1 & 2 REVIEW

I was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York so when I heard about this Brooklyn based web series becoming an Internet smash I had to learn more.

I first heard about this web series via the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival.

As the article states, this series was DIY (Do It Yourself) as far as production values. Personally I’ve studied media my whole adult life, academically and personally, so I could see the obvious flaws in the production. I came into Money & Violence knowing it was DIY low budget filmmaking and boy was it, but that didn’t make it nonetheless compelling. As I tweeted

The last few episodes were up to an hour and I don’t know if that worked as well. By the end of Season One they were doing THE MOST with the episode lengths. Most of the Season was like 25-30 minute episodes which was perfect.

About the quality of the show, it definitely was DIY, but I’ve seen worst and they also was doing the most with a lot of night shooting. Shooting scenes at night is tough because you have to make sure the scene is lit enough so you can see what’s going on. The version I watched was also the “remastered HD” version so it might have looked worse in the original cut.


Photo: Lionsgate Entertainment 

The story was gritty was hell, the two main characters RAFE and MIZ were robbers as in stick-up men. If you had a large amount of money, Rafe and Miz were coming for it. The series also has two other main cast members.

Photo: Lionsgate Entertainment
When I started watching this first season I couldn’t stand the characters of KANE and SHANE, I could see that they had storylines going somewhere, but they seemed too inept to really care about. By the end of the season I see where they were going, RAFE and MIZ were the “elder statesmen” of the game and Kane and Shane were the new youngins.

The story did dip into other areas of the crime game as well as personal stories involving the main characters. The most compelling of the series is anything involving Rafe and Miz, everything else is secondary.

I guess the worst part of the series was the acting, but therein lies the rub. You can tell that no one and I mean no one was a trained actor, but they had that look, that vibe. They had a Jamaican storyline where the Jamaicans sounded like real Jamaicans with THICK accents and patois. I dug the fact that it was authentic, but without subtitles those scenes fell flat and became white noise. The characters though felt very, very real and of the streets.

Ultimately I agree with this from the Tribeca article.
“Perhaps the show’s biggest draw is its DIY production value, which includes episodes that look as if they were shot on a cell phone and performances by a cast of local Brooklyn residents, rather than trained actors. The show’s creator and cast will be the first to admit they had never acted, edited, or been behind a camera before the filming of the show. Verneau is also the writer, editor, director, and show’s lead character. He has said he learned to edit only months prior to the show’s premiere using YouTube tutorials. Still, despite the shaky cameras and grainy picture quality, the allure lies in its authenticity. The web series is written and performed by Brooklyn natives and this is reflected in the accents, slang, and music.”
What it lacks in production quality it more than makes up in AUTHENTICITY!

I enjoyed the first season and by the end I cared about all four of the main characters and where their story was going.

You can read what I thought about Season One as I watched it via this twitter thread starting with this tweet HERE  or clicking the tweet below.



Tidal picked up web series, Money & Violence after Season One and after they ended with failed crowdfunding efforts for Season Two.  Jay Z’s music streaming service stepped in to deliver fans with the next episodes which was great since the Flatbush Brooklyn-based series attracted nearly a million viewers each episode of the first season.

You could tell by the opening credits of Season Two that MAV had more money for their production. Everything looked sleeker and dare I say more “professional”. Everything out the gate looked better. You could tell that they had a more experienced crew on this season.

The shots, the editing, the sound, everything was next level. The acting, not so much. The show continues to use a lot of the same characters/actors from season one and only the main characters seemed to have gotten better. It's ok though, the appeal of MAV has always been its street authenticity. The Jamaicans were back with their thick accents and patois, but this time with subtitles which made their storyline far more palatable

The stories are also slightly more elaborate as the many characters get a lot to do. The main two RAFE and MIZ are also taking their game to the next level. No longer robbing the greater Brooklyn area, they're now moving into “importing and distribution” so to speak. Their new deals involve a lot more strategy, several new characters including more guest stars, one a famous rapper/actor. KANE and SHANE also get more to do and their stories from the first season are expanded.

Photo: Lionsgate Entertainment

Season Two was also more in the “cable model” with a 12 episode season with episodes generally one hour in length. The one hour episodes were cool, but I kinda miss the short 20-25 minute episodes they had at the beginning of Season One, such is life though, as they’re trying to enter more into the mainstream.  I enjoyed Season Two even if some of the storylines were clunky and most of the acting even clunkier. The series still had that street appeal.

You can read what I thought about Season Two as I watched it via this twitter thread starting HERE or the tweet below
As for Season 3 see the below tweet by Money & Violence creator Moses "Moetivation" Verneau, February 2017.
However, one major cast member IS NOT returning  Rene Guercy who played "Miz".
 "Good day Instagram family," Ray wrote on his @ray_day9 page " I don't want to mislead people so I would love for you guys to hear it from me first. I'm no longer part of the Money and Violence cast, nor do I want any association with the project. Those who have watched and supported my journey in becoming an actor, it's appreciated and my acting career won't stop because of this. You have to stand for something or fall for anything. With that being said, God will continue blessing me because I stayed true to myself and never hated."–Revolt, February 2017 

 I really don't know what this means for the future of the series since the Rafe/Miz dynamic was the best of the show to me, but I'm still down for Season Three.

I purchased Seasons One and Two through Lionsgate. Below you can watch a playlist of the first three episodes of Money & Violence for free.

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