Compliance officers, rejoice! The fame and recognition so long denied to you may finally be at hand! The FX network has commissioned the pilot for a new TV series STARRING A COMPLIANCE OFFICER!!!
It will be a comedy, of course. Is there any other way to look at this profession?
Here’s what we know so far: According to an article last week in Variety, FX has greenlighted the pilot for a half-hour comedy series aptly named “Compliance.” It will focus on the life of an SEC compliance officer at “a powerful Wall Street firm.”
So that rules out HSBC and Credit Suisse, at least.
Deadline.com, meanwhile, says the pilot will hinge on a private equity manager “and his government-appointed compliance monitor.” That description could apply to any number of firms.
We don’t know when this pilot might air, if ever; or whom any potential cast members might be. One of the executive producers, however, is Scott Rudin. He previously produced the films “Grand Budapest Hotel” (pretty good), “Captain Phillips,” (haven’t seen it), and “True Grit” (awesome). And in television Rudin has worked on “Silicon Valley,” so he has experience in comedies about the inanity of modern workplace life—which would be mighty useful in a show about compliance.
The writer for the pilot is Sarah Burgess, an up-and-coming playwright with a knack for biting comedy. Her biggest claim to fame so far is the play “Dry Powder,” about a private equity firm that acquires a luggage company and must then decide whether to invest in the company or cut it to shreds for a quick profit. The play ran Off Broadway last year starring Hank Azaria, Claire Danes, and John Krasinski.
The only other thing we know is that FX is no slouch at producing hilarious half-hour comedies: “Baskets,” “Atlanta,” “Sex and Drugs and Rock & Roll,” “Better Things,” and others.
We’ve seen compliance mentioned in popular entertainment before, of course, but always Indirectly, as part of a serious treatment. “Margin Call” in 2011, with Kevin Spacey and Zachary Quinto, where a low-level financial analyst (Quinto) discovers a flaw in the firm’s risk models just before the financial crisis strikes. “Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit” was a good thriller from 2014, although the star, Chris Pine, is a CIA operative whose boring cover is to be a bank compliance officer—an insult to the industry, of course, but worth the time if you find it on Netflix.
Anyway— why not treat compliance as comedy? Half of what we do borders on the preposterous, one step away from “Waiting for Godot.” Heck, if you’re waiting for that declination from the Justice Department or the last comment letter from the SEC to close out that issue, Godot might show up first.
So here’s hoping that compliance, at long last, gets its due in popular entertainment. We could have a field day with that one.