A new two-part drama based on James Comey’s memoir has been derided by critics as ‘a weak melodrama’ which is ‘self-satisfied’, and ‘does little to distinguish itself from the dreary slush pile of other docudramas based on true events or books’.
The Comey Rule, which aired on Showtime on Sunday night, is based on the former FBI director’s 2018 memoir, A Higher Loyalty.
Irish actor Brendan Gleeson stars as the president and Jeff Daniels as Comey, and the show follows Comey through the ethical challenges he faced as FBI director under Trump’s presidency, amid the investigations into Russia‘s interference in the 2016 presidential election.
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The miniseries, featuring Jeff Daniels as James Comey, is based on the former FBI director’s 2018 memoir, A Higher Loyalty
In The Comey Rule, Trump is painted as a ‘mob boss’ during the investigation into Russia’s interference on the 2016 election
James Comey’s 2018 memoir has been turned into a two-part series, which began on Sunday
The first night of the two-night, four-hour event explored the earliest days in the Russia investigation and the FBI investigating Hillary Clinton’s emails, and how they impacted election night when Trump shocked the world.
Critics were unflinching in their attacks on the show.
The New York Times‘ James Poniewozik said it was ‘not good drama; it’s clunky, self-serious and melodramatic.’
IndieWire‘s Ben Travers described it as ‘weak melodrama and a jarring monster movie,’ while Slate derided it as a hagiography.
Comey, who was fired as the FBI director by President Trump in May 2017, claimed Trump had asked for his ‘loyalty’ during the probe. He is portrayed by Jeff Daniels (right)
Actor Brendan Gleeson (right) plays Donald Trump in the political drama thriller
Hank Stuever, the Washington Post‘s TV critic, describes the series as ‘a project nobody asked for, dropped into a highly contentious election season, as if the very lessons it hopes to impart somehow do not apply to its own sense of self-importance.’
He argues that the timing was wrong for HBO to broadcast the series.
‘The story’s unsettled nature is proof enough that all of this still needs time to ferment before anyone tries to make it into captivating material for TV and film,’ he writes.
‘Other than being able to say it got there first, “The Comey Rule” could certainly have waited — until after the election, or until some other era down the road.’
Rolling Stone‘s Maria Fontoura agreed, with a critique entitled: ‘The Comey Rule’ Will Give You 2016 Election PTSD.
Scott Tobias, critic for Vulture, wrote: ‘In its worst moments, The Comey Rule does little to distinguish itself from the dreary slush pile of other docudramas based on true events or books.’
On social media, Twitter users were unimpressed.
‘The casting in The Comey Rule is so bad,’ said one Twitter user, while another mocked Daniels’ performance as ‘a sort of aw-shucks American everyman’.
Another said that Gleeson’s portrayal of Trump was ‘as if he’s doing a very bad impersonation of Stephen Colbert doing his terrible impersonation of Trump.’
Social media users were unimpressed with The Comey Rule
Daniels’ performance was mocked by another Twitter user
Another person took aim at Brendan Gleeson’s portrayal of the president
The limited series follows Comey through the challenges he faced throughout his role as FBI director under Trump’s presidency, amid the investigations into Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election
Holly Hunter plays fired acting attorney general Sally Yates (left)
According to the network, Comey’s memoir serves as just one source for the series, along with ‘more than a year of additional interviews with a number of key principals’.
The Comey Rule was described as, ‘an immersive, behind-the-headlines account of the historically turbulent events surrounding the 2016 presidential election and its aftermath, which divided a nation.’
The network description also clarified that this event series is ‘not the biopic of one man,’ but is the story of ‘two powerful figures whose strikingly different personalities, ethics and loyalties put them on a collision course.’
The description by HBO even calls Russia’s interference in the 2016 election a ‘deep and unprecedented penetration into American politics’.
Holly Hunter plays Acting Attorney General Sally Yates, William Sadler stars as Michael Flynn, and Peter Coyote as Robert Mueller.