Tuesday, May 29, 2012

'The L.A. Complex' "Burns Down" My Emotions...

Coming full circle with the second episode of this series-- the one in which I really fell in love with the show because it proved the pacing and colorful characters were not just a gimmick used to lure you in for the pilot-- "Burn It Down" was all about Kaldrick King (Andra Fuller) for me. Sure, on paper, it was also a lot about Connor (Jonathan Patrick Moore), and Raquel (Jewel Staite), and even Nick (Joe Dinicol), and we'll get to them in a second, but after backing Tariq (Benjamin Charles Watson) against a  wall in the parking lot last week, I felt like the show may have hit a wall for that relationship in general. And then they, ahem, burned it down.

Kal broke all of his rules for Tariq-- for reasons that still somewhat leave me scratching his head. Forget not getting involved with someone at California, or someone at work, how about not showing up to your D.L. boyfriend's crap shack of an apartment, where everyone knows who you are and everyone has a camera phone? And how about not disappearing inside with him where the walls are paper thin? Kal has other people to worry about besides his "boys" at the studio. He can convince them of believing anything, but if some filmmaker wannabe gets crafty with a FlipCam, TMZ would be all over that in a second.

The minute Kal and Tariq started making out in the studio, I knew an interruption was imminent. And that meant I knew Kal would out Tariq and blame him for coming onto him. I did not know he would start pummeling the kid to within an inch of his life. Maybe I underestimated his anger and how much he would do for show (he did go to prison, but that always felt more like an anecdote), or maybe I assumed one of the other guys would step in and break it up sooner, and Kal would just rant and rave and yell like a tough guy. But I guess the scene, as disturbing as it was (I mean, really, Kal is in the next thirteen episodes, but how does a character come back from that? Tariq can't have so little self-respect he takes the dude back, right? Then where does Kal fit in? No, really, where? I NEED TO KNOW NOW!), absolutely could not have played out any other way. The sheer pain on Fuller's face while he was screaming an obscenity at Tariq said more about how he feels about himself than any page-long monologue-- even any four minute song-- ever could.

Though, let's talk about "Hard Times" for a second because I need it on my iPod. I wonder how much Kal can really write about his experiences-- with Tariq or in general-- before people start to read between the lines. Hip-hop is all about being real and true to who you are and your experiences, and that means actual storytelling and limited metaphors...

Moving on to Nick, as promised, though, while I was happy to see him finally achieve a monocum of happiness in his personal life at the same time as a dollop of success in his professional one, I hate that he had to be Carlos Mencia to do so. I mean, his bedtime banter with Sabrina (Georgina Reilly) was cute and showed how he may need a writing partner to actually bring out the best in him-- and tell him when he's being lame-- but why he thought it was okay to use that material on stage was beyond me. There was literally a People's Court that started this way! Then again, when he got off-stage, she was mad because she had been planning to use it, so had she gone first I would have been mad at her. It's intellectual property; if neither of you can claim it completely, you either have to share it or agree no one can use it. You at least have to acknowledge and discuss the fact that you each want to use it because you think you can. Yikers. I like Sabrina a lot, though, and much better for Nick than Abby (Cassie Steele), so I hope he can sack up and apologize, and they can find a way to move past this. If nothing else, maybe they can start writing a screenplay together. I can see it now: quirky independent off-beat rom-com!

Oh, Abby! Speaking of Abby, her speech in the audition had me nodding along and grinning so hard. I've never attempted to be a professional actor, but I've been on the other side of the casting enough to totally get where she was coming from, and I'm sure a number of my actor friends can relate to always wanting to say the things she did but fearing they'd never work again if they did. Though because this is TV, I'm sure Abby's "spirit" will land her another audition, if not the gig itself. Hell, she managed to throw up in an audition earlier and not get blacklisted.

This show moves so fast, it's kind of crazy to think that initial audition of hers was only six weeks ago (in our timeline). In theirs, it seems to be a bit shorter. It's apropos, though: this town is all about timing, and things can literally change in an instant for a person. Look at Alicia (Chelan Simmons). She was down about not getting that Usher tour gig in the first episode, assuming they would call her immediately if she got it. Since then she released a sex tape, shot her first "real" porn, and slept her way onto a different tour. But then she did get the call from Usher-- well, his people. Clearly she wasn't their first choice since that audition was over a month ago, but still. If she had just had a little faith and stuck it out stripping a little longer, she wouldn't have had to spiral as far as she did for the same results. But hindsight, right? Or maybe she'll realize dancing background for Usher is not as exciting and lucrative as porn anyway. Maybe in a few more episodes, we'll see her making appearances at adult film conventions and winning golden phallus awards. Perspective is a tricky thing in this business, and when you lose sight of it, well, she has to hit bottom before she can claw her way back up to the top.

Speaking of hitting bottom, I just want to pick Connor up and put him in my pocket and give him hugs, randomly, to let him know he's loved. For the first time tonight, when he was lying in the hospital, humbled by the scar on his face, and he told the doctor he needed to go back on his prescription, I really saw that he had a chance. Maybe he wasn't such a lost cause after all. Of course, that was coupled with him ultimately getting rewarded for his bad behavior by not only not being fired from his show but getting an even bigger and better storyline, having his scarring written into the series. Way to enable, Hollywood! He may not have physically made those cuts on his face himself, but he still caused them nonetheless, and I cringed the minute he was released (too early, in my opinion) from that hospital-- which, I'm sorry, but this dude is a TV star with great insurance, so why was he relegated to the pop up tent hospital? That place did not look clean. Anyway, sending him home to his empty house was a recipe for disaster. They didn't magically cure him. They stitched him up and gave him a new bottle of pills, but that's just treating the symptoms. The fire seemed a tame choice thus far, yet I'm sure it's just another thing the people around him will sweep under the rug or spin to show he's the TV star who's just having the worst possible (probably victim-like) luck.

Knowing what I know now, after this episode, suddenly last week's drunken ramblings about Mansour, or however Connor would have spelled his unborn fetus' name, seem a lot more poetic than mere drunken ramblings: they were foreshadowing of Raquel's negative experience with a positive pregnancy test. This leaves me with so many questions: will she tell Connor he's the dad or will she lie and tell Gary he's the dad? Would she ever consider keeping the kid and achieving fame by being a celebrity mom, or will she see it as just another obstacle standing in her way of the perfect part? This show just got so juicy, and there's no official, confirmed return date for The CW just yet. They better get on that or I will move to Canada just to be able to watch TV.

That's a totally valid reason to apply for a visa, right?

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