'Company' Man Is A Con Artist In Love On ABC

Milo Ventimiglia plays a con man in love in the new ABC series “The Company You Keep,” but is his newfound romance just a con?

Well, maybe or maybe not. Anything is possible in this new one-hour series, which is one part rom-con-com (romantic conman comedy) and another part high-stakes caper drama.

I’m drawing a blank, but I’m pretty sure we’ve seen something like this before on TV, and probably more than once too.

Either my memory is not what it once was, or these past con capers were not exactly memorable.

I have a feeling “The Company You Keep” will eventually fall down the same black hole -- not because it’s a bad show, but because it is not a special one.



This is a network show with a capital “N,” starting with its farfetched premise. He’s a con man named Charlie. She’s an undercover CIA agent named Emma. Like two ships passing in the night, they meet in a hotel bar and fall in love.

Neither knows what the other does for a living. Nor do they realize that an arch-criminal who is menacing Charlie’s family is also an international drug trafficker who is in Emma’s crosshairs.

Thus, their fates are intertwined, and by about two-thirds into the premiere episode, so are their bodies.

Charlie’s family is a clan of con people whose headquarters is a Baltimore bar they own. This family con gang includes Charlie’s mother and father, and a woman who may be Charlie’s current flame or possibly his wife. 

This was unclear to me by the time I finished previewing Episode One, probably because the exposition is laid on so thick in the episode that it is near impossible to catch all of it.

Meanwhile, Emma’s family is powerful in Washington, D.C., both in government and society. They may or may not know what Emma (Catherine Haena Kim) really does for a living. 

The first episode of “The Company You Keep” encompasses two elaborate cons, one successful and one not. 

One of the marks is a television evangelist who is playing fast and loose with the money his ministry collects from ordinary God-fearing people.

This is a predictable movie and TV cliché. Need a villain? Then pick a Christian. Later, one of the characters even voices her disapproval of Catholics, though they have nothing to do with this televangelist or the story being told in the episode.

Here is the kind of small detail that I usually notice, even if others may not: At the outset of a car chase, Emma exits a parking lot about to steer onto a highway when she is suddenly t-boned at high speed, basically totaling her car.

Although the impact was on the driver’s side of the car where she was sitting, she was then shown groggily regaining consciousness with only minor injuries.

But there was one thing missing: The presence of a deployed and then deflated airbag in her face. 

These kinds of things are not enough to ruin a show for me, but they do make me shake my head in wonderment. Was the budget too tight to go and get an airbag for the scene? 

“The Company You Keep” premieres on Sunday (February 19) at 10 p.m. Eastern on ABC.

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