To avoid jail, an ultra-suave con man signs on to help an FBI agent catch other white-collar thieves but he conceals an ulterior motive.
In an area of New York City with a disproportionate amount of gorgeous and unrelated brown-haired, blue-eyed people, con man extraordinaire Neal Caffrey convinces the FBI to serve out his sentence through a work-release program. He teams up with the man who put him behind bars, Special Agent Peter Burke, to catch — you guessed it — white collar criminals.
Basically, this is kind of like — spoilers for a thirteen-year-old* movie based on real life (so, history) — the end of Catch Me If You Can as a rollicking procedural.
*HOLY SHIZZ, has it been that long?!
Matt Bomer as Neal Caffrey
Tim DeKay as Peter Burke
Tiffani(-Amber) Thiessen as Elizabeth Burke
Willie Garson as Mozzie
Marsha Thomason as Diana Berrigan
Sharif Atkins as Clinton Jones
Diahann Carroll as June Ellington
Alexandra Daddario as Kate Moreau
Hilarie Burton as Sara Ellis
Natalie Morales as Lauren Cruz
… and that’s only the main cast! There are tons of recognizable guest stars, incl. some that have become more famous since their stint.
Couch-Sharing Capability: Medium
While it might be a hard sell to round up a viewing marathon party for all 81 episodes, newbies can easily drop in at any point and more or less figure out the essentials. And then maybe they’ll get hooked and go back to catch up to you, if you’re looking for company to watch with. I personally can’t binge more than 3 or 4 episodes at a time; even when the serialized part is firing on all cylinders, I tend to zone out of the procedural subplots with more episodes than that in one sitting. Even when it stars someone really, really ridiculously good-looking.
Recommended Level of Inebriation: Dealer’s Choice
Even at its cheesiest, this show and cast have so much charm that everyone seems like they’re at least having a good time, so alcohol isn’t exactly necessary to enjoy this. But, as many an FYA reader knows, a series (re)watch deserves its own drinking game.
The Official FYA White Collar Drinking Game
Take a sip whenever:
- Someone uses an alias
Take a drink whenever:
- Someone drinks alcohol
- Neal does a hat trick
- Neal tries to flirt to get his way
- Take another drink if it backfires on him
- Neal’s ankle monitor goes off
- Someone mentions the number of times that Peter has caught Neal
- You recognize a guest star
- You learn a con trick that could actually be performed by or be useful to you
Take a shot whenever:
- Neal is shirtless
- Mozzie calls Peter or Elizabeth by their actual names
- Elizabeth saves the day
- Peter and Neal fight
- Make it a double if they fight physically
Chug for the duration of:
- Unsubtle product placement in the form of lingering car shots
Finish your drink when:
- Bad CGI occurs
- Something supports your (OK, fine — my) cracked-out headcannon that this show is a giant prequel to Magic Mike
- E.g., Neal dances and/or sings; someone from the Magic Mike movies appears on the show
Use of Your Streaming Subscription: Good
This show is light, fun entertainment. Don’t get me wrong; there’s plenty of substance to be had, esp. in relationships like the burgeoning bromance between Neal and Peter, or the rock-solid marriage between Peter and Elizabeth (a couple that’d fit in with the likes of Coach and Mrs. Coach). And Lost it ain’t — this show actually resolves its big mysteries within a season or two, as opposed to dragging them out way past their welcome. White Collar might not be required viewing, but it’s a fine procedural to spend time with.