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Telemarketers: Fraud, Failure, Friendship and Methadone


Well here I am breaking tradition and talking about something slightly topical and contemporary. It comes with great pain and discomfort for me to break away from my usual fair of grind house schlock, borderline smut and art house du jour to talk about something relatively know and maybe even relatable to my readership. Shitty jobs and the friends we make along the way. Yes today's subject is something I like so many of you can relate to a docuseries about two screw ups who bonded over and documented their time working at a call center selling fraudulent charities to rubes across the land. At least that's what I would say if it wasn't a small piece of the puzzle as to what makes Telemarketers such a pleasure to watch, the charm of Telemarketers isn't the early 2000s Jackass style mini dv shot shenanigans of a bunch of office delinquents getting high and making sales. Nor is it about two average joes trying the earnest to try and uncover a corrupt system that feeds off of solicitation or even the endearing friendship between two former coworkers documented over the course of a decade or so. No for better or worse what makes Telemarketers great is seeing two people trying their very best and having what ultimately ends up somewhere between a small victory and a successful failure. If you're looking for a slick 30 for 30 style documentary with flashy edits and $100,000 cine cameras then you've come to the wrong place.


As someone who unfortunately learned how toThe make films "the right way" I must lament most of what is seen in Telemarketers is amateurish, however as I've said many times hear and elsewhere I wish I never learned to do this "right". Former addicts and high school dropouts aren't supposed to reach the zenith of HBO nor are they supposed to be charged with interviewing numerous politicians and heads of various organizations. Yet the duo of Pat Pespas and Sam Lipman-Stern were able to both by simply trying. Is this a great documentary with a satisfying conclusion and riveting findings that will shake your beliefs to the core. Not even close. But it is as endearing as the kinship shared between the unlikely duo who met at what most would consider a low point in their lives, ripping off grannies, shooting up & snorting in the case of Pat, tagging up buildings together and working for a group millionaire brothers who made their living off the backs off of both groups in questions en route to committing one of the largest cases of fraud in US history. Watching Telemarketers you'll realize that yes indeed the people behind telemarketing are what most of us would regard amongst the dregs of society but more importantly amongst that layer of slime live people with a heart of gold just trying to do their very best. The most heartwarming part of this documentary is Pat who throughout the documentary serves as a caretaker for his chronically ill wife in addition to being the lead whistleblower for the corruption he sees in his workplace. Heartwarming is really the best way you can describe this documentary as a whole with Pat and Sam soliciting phone calls with the representatives from the "charities" and police fraternities they once made sales for whilst stealing wifi from a Mcdonald's near Pat's home, seeing them reminisce with former coworkers about their former employer's shitty rock group, who had of all things an infomercial or even the instant meme of Pat searching for a cowboy hat while in Texas it's all endearing. That's of course is not to say the documentary is without merit or you won't learn more about phone solicitation than you would ever want to know. It's just to say what you find out will probably be nothing more than whatever preclusions you already had about them. Phone solicitation is corrupt, the people who employ them are even more so and the organizations who make contracts with such people are even more still. Is it shocking that such people employ crackheads and ex-murderers? Somewhat but we were already operating under the premise that Pat was deep into the thralls of heroin addiction whilst working for their original company by the time this info is revealed, which is what I mean when I say this isn't exactly the most well made documentary. There's too many redundancies and if there are some in this review well that's why, but make no mistake this is a worthwhile watch. This is a case of the victories being small but the effort being mighty and last I checked very few among us can claim that we were able to escalate our cause up to the office of a US Senator even if we make ourselves look somewhat embarrassing in the process. It's all apart of what makes Sam and Pat so likeable they are for better or worse the everyman doing the best they can and proving in the process that sometimes the best we can do, really is just that.

After I initially started my review it was revealed that Pat Pespas star of this documentary has gone missing. As of this writing he has yet to be found, here's to hoping that everything turns out ok and he is able to return to his family in one piece. I obviously didn't want to end this review on a down note but wherever he is right now I hope he's ok and knows that his efforts are not unseen. Telemarketers is available on MAX watch it for Pat.

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