He’s a lawyer who never attended law school. His name is Doug Rich, but it’s actually Wayne Malloy. His wife Dahlia — or is that Cherien? — is a drug addict (really) and a dental hygienist/personal assistant (not really).
His son is a girl, his next-door neighbor is a married gay alpaca breeder and his priest doesn’t believe in God.
Such is the topsy-turvy suburban world of “The Riches,” the Eddie Izzard/Minnie Driver dramedy on FX whose first-season finale tonight caps one of the oddest and most thought-provoking pieces of storytelling on television.
It’s a dark, intricately spun tale about impostors. Trouble is, the impostors in this elastic reality aren’t necessarily whom you expect.
The suburban impostor is a TV genre rich with possibility, but rarely has it been plundered so slyly. For years, we’ve known that no one really lives like Ozzie and Harriet Nelson or the Cleavers; even the Bradfords of the late-1970s series “Eight is Enough,” with their calibrated-for-prime -time angst, were far happier than most.
Today, ABC’s “Desperate Housewives” stylizes the American suburban experience like kabuki theater, hammering home irony in roundhouse punches and portent-swollen voiceovers that leave little room for subtlety.
“The Riches” chooses another path. By focusing on the obvious impostors — the Malloy family, just trying to make their way in a dead guy’s house, but with everything to lose — it reveals more subtle pretenders. For in their new home of Edenfalls, as in many mannered suburban subdivisions, lies can be hidden everywhere. Most are less epic than the Malloys’, but many are just as intricate and deceptive.
Is anyone in Edenfalls living a genuine life? The answer is surprising: The Malloys are. At least, they’re trying.
In a nation brimming with impostors, that may be the most succinct summation of the modern American suburb this side of John Updike.
The first season finale of “The Riches” airs 10 p.m. today on FX.