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Series / Arli$$

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Arliss (stylized as Arli$$) is a cult TV show that aired on HBO. It lasted from August 1996 to September 2002, for a total of 80 episodes.

The show follows the adventures of sports agent Arliss Michael, played by Robert Wuhl. Also in the regular cast are Sandra Oh as his personal assistant Rita Wu, Michael Boatman as his financial advisor Stanley Babson, and Jim Turner as retired football star turned associate agent Kirby Carlisle.

The show also features a great many appearances by real-life athletes and other sports figures playing themselves.

This show provides examples of:

  • Actor Allusion: In one episode, Arliss praises the first Batman movie (in which Wuhl had a supporting part), but is uninterested in the sequels.
  • Broken Pedestal: Used several times, most notably when Arliss helps a retired ballplayer accused of beating his second wife. His first wife says that the two were together but then confesses to Arliss that she's covering for her husband. When Arliss asks why, she responds "why do you think we got divorced in the first place?" and she'd rather the world think her husband a cheater than a wife-beater. Arliss is rocked to discover his idol is this way and, while not calling him out on it, does drop him as a client.
  • Celebrity Cameo: There were multiple appearances by famous sports figures and other celebrities in each episode. Apparently, the total number of cameos across the show's seven seasons tops 400.
  • Evolving Credits: The format for the opening credits was always the same: Stock footage of athletes competing with Arliss' Opening Narration (see below) over top of it, then switching to footage of Wuhl at actual sporting events in character as Arliss interacting with famous athletes, coaches, and even some broadcasters like Bob Costas. Meanwhile, the other stars would have footage of them from episodes of the show interacting with a notable sports figure. Over the course of the show's run, many of these clips - including some of the stock footage - would be swapped out for newer ones.
  • Lucky Charms Title: The show's name was sometimes stylized as "Arli$$".
  • Opening Narration: Each episode opened with the following from Wuhl in character as Arliss:
    "For most of us, the dream of becoming a champion remains a fantasy. But for a special few, it is very much a reality. We cheer them. We live through them. Athletes are our last warriors. My job is to make their dreams come true. My name is Arliss Michaels. I represent athletes. These are my stories."
  • Special Guest: Arliss had big-name clients, as befitting a sports agent.
  • Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist: The title character really is a scumbag.