White House Plumbers

White House Plumbers season 1





Kristin Smith

TV Series Review

E. Howard Hunt thought his days in the spotlight as a CIA agent were over. Until one day he gets a call from the White House that gives a new meaning to his former career. 

No longer will he be called an agent. No, now he is sort of like the president’s right, right, right hand man. One who does whatever it takes to make sure President Nixon gets reelected. 

And I do mean whatever. It. Takes.

But it’s not a one-man job. Nope. No siree. Hunt will team up with a former FBI sidekick named G. Gordon Liddy. And, together, they’ll embark on a zealous, patriotic mission to support the president. 

Whatever it takes. Which, as we’ll see, will include espionage, sabotage, infiltration, disinformation, electronic surveillance, planting moles and even more dirty tricks.  

You Sly Politician, You 

On HBO Max (soon to be just Max, by the way), you’ll find a lot of gritty dramas, many of which are capable of making your mom blush. And as you read this review, you’ll see that this is also true, to a degree, in the case of its newest, “historical” original drama, White House Plumbers.

This tongue-in-cheek series featuring Woody Harrelson and Justin Theroux, dramatizes the Watergate scandal, albeit with a hefty helping of satire. It focuses on the arrogant, self-absorbed E. Howard Hunt (Harrelson) and the clueless, demented G. Gordon Liddy (Theroux) as they team up to bolster the faltering Nixon administration. 

Of course, this show is really just played for laughs and outrageous guffaws as many scenes are weird, erratic and occasionally difficult to follow. And the main characters are barely tolerable themselves. But I believe that’s the point, as Hunt and Liddy were eventually indicted on federal charges for things that, if you read them now, seem outrageous. 

That’s because they were. And this five part mini-series shows just how a bunch of political saboteurs, known as the “White House Plumbers, contrived and attempted to execute their dirty work. 

As I’ve only reviewed the first episode, I can only tell you what I’ve learned thus far about the show’s content. But there’s already plenty of that, including harsh profanity, vulgarity and a sex scene (that’s actually a bit mild for HBO Max). We also get an intentionally comical (and predictable) connection to Hiter’s Nazi regime. Oh, there’s also plenty of lying, mistrust and all the other things you’d expect from a government that’s bent on keeping its outward facing plate clean. 

To say that this is HBO’s dirtiest work would be a lie, but to say that it’s the sort of thing you’d want to watch as a family would be about as dishonest as the characters here themselves.

Episode Reviews

May 1, 2023–S1, Ep1: “The Beverly Hills Burglary”

Former CIA agent E. Howard Hunt and former FBI agent G. Gordon Liddy are forced to pair up as covert operators to investigate the Pentagon Papers leak. And that’s just the beginning of a string of events that will culminate with the Watergate scandal. 

Hunt flirts with a flight attendant and asks for her number. He rationalizes to Liddy that he’s “not married” when he’s operating undercover.  Hunt and his wife have sex in the dark (we see movement and hear sounds but nothing more). Men and women lay on the beach, but we only see them from afar. Hunt’s wife types up his soft-core porn novels on his behalf. (We hear a tiny excerpt, read by Hunt’s teenage son.) 

Hunt is assigned a benign task and asks how he could possibly make the horror of “choking kids” more appealing to read for a wide audience. Liddy attempts to teach the young girls in his office how to defend themselves, with pencils, from rapists.

Hunt often refers to anyone he disagrees with as a “communist” or those who push “leftist propaganda.” Liddy plays Hitler’s chants loudly at his home, telling Hunt that Hitler’s voice used to give him the strength he needed to face bullies as a child. After Liddy’s house gets egged by neighborhood kids, he threatens them with a handgun (though we only see him place the gun on the table and reference this).

Hunt and his wife are very rude to one another. Each often belittles the other. Hunt demeans his own daughter after she’s injured in a car accident, telling his other children she was sent to a “nuthouse.” Liddy tells Hunt that those who see psychiatrists are mentally unstable.

Hunt and Liddy are given new jobs at the episode’s end and they’re told to help Nixon win the presidential election by any means necessary, including espionage, sabotage, infiltration and disinformation.

Men smoke cigars and cigarettes and drink hard liquor, champagne and beer.

Jesus’ name is misused often. God’s name is misused more than 10 times, and it’s often paired with “d–n” and “d–mit.” The f-word is used more than 20 times while the s-word is heard more than 10 times. Other profanities include multiple utterances each of “a–,” “d–n,” “son of a b–ch,” “a–hole,” “b–tard,” “d–mit” and “h—.”

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Kristin Smith

Kristin Smith joined the Plugged In team in 2017. Formerly a Spanish and English teacher, Kristin loves reading literature and eating authentic Mexican tacos. She and her husband, Eddy, love raising their children Judah and Selah. Kristin also has a deep affection for coffee, music, her dog (Cali) and cat (Aslan).

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