In traditional media, Pespas’s history of addiction would be a credibility killer. Here it’s a sign of his authenticity. .... The wobbly final episode only glancingly acknowledges the ways that telemarketing tactics have evolved since C.D.G.’s day, now that A.I. has rendered flesh-and-blood employees largely obsolete and call scripts capitalize on political strife by framing donations as protests against police reform. But, when it becomes clear that there’s no real conclusion to this story, the lack of closure feels right.
The series pairs their fish-out-of-water vibe with some structurally smart choices to keep us immersed even as Lipman-Stern hits various dead ends, including its use of episodic cliffhangers, the way it integrates Lipman-Stern’s narration and exposition, and its centering of the hyperearnest Pespas.
Telemarketers got me a little angry and outraged, but not as much as I might have hoped, given the topic. However, I laughed a lot and, thanks to Pat’s willingness to expose his frailties to the camera, I found an appreciation for Sam and Pat and their fellowship and their quest.
Kinetic and raw and eye-opening three-part HBO documentary. .... At times Pespas in particular seems more like Don Quixote than investigative journalist, but he and Lipman-Stern are to be applauded for their continuing efforts to warn us about telemarketing scams.
Telemarketers is gripping whenever it's focusing on the party-hard, Wolf of Wall Street culture of the call center or tracing the swindles of shady fundraising operations outward to powerful police unions and politicians with hands tied. It's much less interesting once it becomes more invested in the filmmakers' Michael Moorian quests to land interviews; they keep interrupting their exposé for scenes of them planning an exposé.