The Riches is about a family of gypsies who, through a series of circumstances, find themselves adopting the identities of a rich couple that died in an auto accident. The idea is that this family of thieves and con artists must pretend to be rich, upper class snobs in order to, as the father says, “steal the American dream.” I am reminded of two other shows, both of which I liked quite a bit. Big Love, running currently on HBO, and Cover Me, a cool show on USA a few years ago, back when USA was trying to be FX, but with less success. Big Love stars Bill Paxton as a Mormon with three wives, trying to hide this fact in modern Utah where polygamy is outlawed. Cover Me was about a family of undercover agents working for the FBI. All three shows portray families that are forced by circumstance to hide what they are. All three deal with definitions of family that stretch the boundaries of what it means to be a family, and all three shows ultimately center around the primacy and importance of family.

Eddie Izzard plays Wayne Malloy and Minnie Driver plays his wife Dahlia. Such casting automatically makes this a show to watch. Izzard is electric as Wayne, and watching him in action, scheming, thinking and taking big risks, is a delight. The show hedges a bit in making Wayne a better person than the rest of the gypsies portrayed on the show. Izzard is no common thief; he’s a showman. He has such bravado and that we automatically want to see him succeed. His motives seem pure even if his actions aren’t. Minnie Driver has the more difficult part to play. At times I’m reminded of Jaime Pressly’s portrayal of Joy on My Name is Earl, especially the "white trash" accent and demeanor, but Driver doesn’t play the role solely for laughs. She’s a drug addict, for one, and in the second episode it’s revealed that she might even be insane. Dark stuff for a family drama, but the cast is well up to the task.

“To steal the American dream.” What does that mean? I think that’s the concept that The Riches is seeking to explore. Is it about a big house, a swimming pool, and lots of stuff? Or is it about having a safe and stable place to raise a family? If done right there’s every reason to believe that The Riches will seek interesting answers to these questions.