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I have chosen Hustle based on the fact that it is one of the mediums of drama that is rarely seen in the UK. Television rarely goes out of its way to glamorize crime which makes extravagant displays of grand theft auto, robbery, embezzlement, fraud, extortion, blackmail, larceny and any other crime against property you can think of.
It makes for an interesting programme, clearly very westernized and sexualized to make London look like New York as to pull off these plots of grandeur in which the programme can emulate ‘Oceans Eleven’ into one hour viewing.
Characters are visceral and add as much to the plot as a baboon does to the theory of quantum mechanics. But they are likable and can be amusing at times.
The twists are surprising almost every time and get used to them because there’s about 3 of them in every episode.
Cynicism aside, I believe that the show is a well rounded, well produced piece of entertainment that one can just watch for an hour without getting too lost or having their intelligence insulted too much.
I will assess how the drama treats the character of Albert Stroller an American ‘grifter’/conman who is getting on in his years. His character is quite docile for his age and profession and that is one of the main reasons I thought of his character. The character comes up with plots of immense intricacy every week, displaying personal knowledge of the field and a near omnipotent control over the events of each episode, even when everyone else manages to muck up his plans.
In the clip in question we see him in prison contrasted against the hard faced inmates making his way that only he knows how. The treatment of age differs to how is usually portrayed in television and the aspects in Albert’s life surrounding crime seem to emulate youth which is interesting considering they’re promoting an illegal idea and there is rarely ever a consequence to these illegal actions.
A brief evaluation the clip (with regards to the evaluation issue).
Firstly we open with close up shots of hardened criminal types, large and rough in appearance probably to reinforce the stereotype of criminals being young, large ruffians. The men are partaking in rituals of strength as ‘men’ are displayed of enjoying. Music is loud and primitive as to represent the more barbaric of the sexes immersed in displays of dominance.
The shot pans outwards to those betting on this arm-wrestle and our subject matter Albert Stroller, using his initiative within prison to gain some money. This sets him forth from the stereotype of an elderly man (yet his age can be seen from his dress and appearance). The music at this point is upbeat and reasonably heavy as the shots continue to show the moneymaking process that Albert undergoes when situated in the ‘joint’.
We see a pot of money growing larger and larger as Albert continues to cheat (or possibly by more honest means) these fellow prisoners out of their money. Despite being a man in prison for multiple felonies he looks satisfied with himself as he informs his associate Mickey of new ‘marks’ (targets) within the prison or who have affiliation with the prison. Also this confronts another stereotype of the elderly, their working ethic, although he is told to ‘give it a rest’ like many other old people, their age is just a number and can be surprised by the notion of a break.
After talking with Mickey, Albert leaves the visitor room and Mickey has a brief discussion with the guard nearby about how ‘sly’ the man is despite his age. The program up until this point has made a point about how unusual this individual id, not for his felonies, but for his mind and work ethic at his age. So is still agreeing with the stereotype.
Albert has been talking about how he had the prison governor like putty in his hands and how he had been planning to use him to make his way out of prison. He walks into the office of the governor to a slight surprise, a woman sits I the chair (the lighting within the room is cold and the colours are dark, supposedly foreshadowing the nature of this woman… This assumption is correct). The woman is very formal and her method of addressing Albert is blunt. At this point (seeing the strict nature of the woman) Albert adopts a fragility not displayed and assumed as false when confronted with betting slips (squinting down at them as though his elderly eyes cannot see).
This fragility becomes very much real when (solemn non-diegetic music can be heard) she sees through the previously displayed cons of the inmates and gives him the powerful message that he is ‘going to be in here for a very long time). The music and lighting at this point help to convey the sincere emotions Albert is showing, the lighting does not compliment the lines of his face well and suddenly becomes very elderly to the viewers and the façade of his confidence through ‘grifting’ has been stripped of him within this confinement.
Many of the ideas that I have just begun to talk about all refer to how age is represented, sometimes conforming to stereotypes e.g. Albert’s dress (jumper and ascot) and the notion of his age being a personal concern. Yet many ideas in this particular drama do not conform to preconceived ideas of the elderly. Used many times in drama, the elderly are given knowledge as opposed to the physical strength that they have lost, this gives them an equal or mostly higher overall strength of character and retains his relevance within the plot.