HBO’s “Hard Times: Lost on Long Island” takes a sobering look at the job crisis

In the opening moments of HBO’s disquieting new documentary Hard Times: Lost on Long Island, balding, bespectacled Alan Fromm — an unemployed corporate trainer — catalogs the catastrophes he survived prior to losing his job a year earlier: struck by lightning at 15; heart trouble at 21; in the World Trade Center during the 1993 bombing; on the Long Island Rail Road when Colin Ferguson gunned down 25 passengers nine months later; and in the north tower on 9/11. By comparison, he says, unemployment doesn’t seem so bad.

But it’s getting there.

Fromm often gathers with a rotating crew of fellow job seekers for coffee and commiseration. Among them are Anne Strauss, a jobless PR exec, and her husband Mel, an unemployed banker; former Wall Street securities executive Nick Puccio and his wife Regina; and chiropractor David Hartstein, whose business is failing, and his wife Heather, a laid-off teacher.

As the ensuing hour unfolds — and over a cruel backdrop of news reports that announce further economic disaster and chastise those caught in its grip — the four families and others share escalating struggles that include dramatic health events, fruitless interviews and soul-rending battles to keep their modest family homes.

The stats against them are staggering:

• The suburbs are now America’s fastest-growing area of poverty
• The average length of unemployment is nine months — a national all-time high
• There are four job seekers for every available job
• More than 5 million personal bankruptcies have been filed since 2008
• More than 6 million homes have fallen into foreclosure since 2008

Stark, clear-eyed and never mawkish — with a heartbreaking afterword — the film, from Emmy-winning director/producer Marc Levin, presents a disquieting look at how close those of us who have everything could be to losing it all.

Hard Times: Lost on Long Island premieres on HBO Monday July 9 at 9/8CT

1 Comment on HBO’s “Hard Times: Lost on Long Island” takes a sobering look at the job crisis

  1. This film is the living proof of the saying, “Don’t talk about someone who’s down..COMFORT them in thier sorrow, for THIS old world is a funny old world, it COULD be YOUR TURN TOMORROW!” We who work , are usually just 3 paychecks from homelessness!!

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About Lori Acken 1103 Articles
Lori just hasn't been the same since "thirtysomething" and "Northern Exposure" went off the air.