Monday, June 1, 2009

Sarah Chalke, You're Better Than That!...

With obtaining the rights to Project Runway, set to air in August, and a hit dramatic series (Army Wives) returning this week, it has been said in the press that Lifetime has "come along way from the Mother May I Sleep With Danger? days." And while that might be true-- to a degree (after all, they did air those heinous Nora Roberts miniseries-movies just last month)-- their latest concoction, Maneater, is slowly tugging on the channel, bringing it back down to the bowels of scripted television.
Maneater aired over the weekend and starred Sarah Chalke, Judy Greer, Garcelle Beauvais-Nilon, and Maria Conchita Alonso, all of whom are much better than the low-rate production and even lower quality writing. Maneater centers on a shallow rich girl from Beverly Hills (of course) who learns her white-collar incarcerated (but still rich!) daddy is planning to cut her off in just a few short months. Her plan is of course to entrap an equally (or more so) rich guy and marry him within three months-- because she figures three months is all the time she has before the credit card companies come knocking down her door. Now of course Chalke's character comes with relationship baggage, too, in the form of an ex-boyfriend who she still pines for, and who just maybe will pine for her, too, once he sees what he might be losing for good.

Chalke's "cast of characters" is rounded out by her BFFs, equally vapid girls who try to "up-bitch" each other, get injections in their faces like one would buy packs of gum, all have daddy issues and sleep with married men and then pitch a drunken scene in public about it (though that might be redundant after the "daddy issue" comment). There's the rich guy with a secret who Chalke seduces and then ultimately falls for herself; there's a proposal in record time-- something that would only happen in such a film and give sad, single women everywhere unrealistic hope; there's even montages and references to other "great" chick flick/romantic comedy moments-- and those are especially sad because at the top of that list is a mention of Maid in Manhattan as one of "every good romantic film." Oh yeah, and there's also the wealthy friend who falls for, and slums it with, a pool boy-slash-caterer. I'm not even going to mention the ridiculous Vaseline sponsored product placement!

Maneater, and its excruciating voice over, took two nights to play out-- the film clocked out at a whopping three hours-- and featured the obligatory "twist" which really wasn't a twist if you had been paying attention, let alone scrutinizing this production like any other film. I'm not just talking about the twist with the ex, either. In fact, from the very first scene in which Chalke's "man love" is introduced and another character tells him to "put her to good use," he says he will with just enough of a sneer to know he's not who he claims to be-- but not in the evil way that would turn this into something as soapy and dagger-filled as Mother May I... He's just keeping something from her that might change how she feels about him-- or change her future plans.

But then of course there's another development (a who's the daddy? scare-turned-scheme-to-extort-money) that takes them-- well, at least, her-- right back to "ugh." Instead of dealing with anything like a responsible adult, she lies to counteract his lies-- and the ex's lies-- to create one big convoluted mess of an epic TV movie-- one that eventually takes us into the ...Danger realm, but not soon enough for us to actually have an inkling invested in these people or their world. And the fact that it took so long to get to the same ending point that all of these movies do without anything unique or interesting occurring is really just appalling in this age of six minute webisodes and 140 character attention spans! Plus, I just take great personal offense at the "when women don't know what to do with their lives, they work at a magazine" commentary because I for one have always known what I wanted to do with my life, and it has always included working for a magazine! Now why can the fictional, unqualified (seriously, how did she ever get a meeting if she didn't submit writing samples?) fake writers get interviews at high profile glossies when this very real, very experienced, very opinionated writer cannot!? Maybe because I do use commas...and don't know the "uber-famous"...and don't accidentally confuse my cell phone for someone powerful's. Be careful; you can really twist an ankle if you fall in those plot holes.

Only redeemable thing? No, not hot men-- which was surprising, considering it aired on a made-for-women channel-- but the typecasted Judy Greer as the sarcastic, eyerolling, borderline alcoholic best friend! Oh, Gigi, you should have stuck to The Starter Wife; just because USA was done with it didn't mean the internet would be!

No comments: