Tuesday, July 24, 2012

'The L.A. Complex' Dives Deeper Into The World Of Fallen Stars...

I'm a sucker for titles with double meanings, and I am choosing to believe that "The Contract" in tonight's The L.A. Complex refers not only to the proposition Connor (Jonathan Patrick Moore) received (and more on that in a minute), but also to Beth's (Dayle McLeod) signing on the dotted line for her brother-who-is-probably-going-to-turn-out-to-be-her-son. 

I have to admit, I really didn't want to see a kid hanging around The Lux when Raquel (Jewel Staite) learned she was pregnant. I don't think it's a good idea for someone so young and moldable to be around all the drinking, pot-smoking, loud parties, and terrible wiring and plumbing. But there is something must more comforting in the fact that this kid is staying with a guardian who is actually looking out for him in a place like The Lux than running around the hot tubs of the Oakwoods, supervised or not. It certainly is a side of Hollywood that deserves to be explored, too. Hundreds of child actors come out here every month to try to land a commercial or Disney Channel guest spot. They bring with them a parent or relative who has given up their own job and semblance of a "regular" life to fight for, or at times force upon, their kid's dream. Their struggles are unique but certainly still interesting. The minute I saw Simon (Michael Levinson) I had immediate flashbacks to Unscripted, in which Krista went in for an audition and thought she left her son in the waiting room, but he ended up going into an audition of his own, and as they embarked on the possibility of him becoming a child star they were hit with not ridiculously expensive bills for headshots or classes or on-set tutors but the question of whether or not a kid should have plastic surgery to get ahead of their normal growth spurts and get a leg up on the competition. If The L.A. Complex is going to tackle the topic of child stardom, they have to dive into all of the seedy elements. Sugarcoating won't help anything!

The class Raquel went to made me sad. No one was learning how to be a better actor there; they were learning what "type" they could most easily fit into. It's depressing enough to resign yourself to the fact that you may only be looked at one specific way by casting directors, producers, hell, this whole town, but usually that comes after years of work behind you, like Raquel. I got the impression everyone in this class was new, just starting out, trying to find a place to fit before they even tried anything. Where's the artistry in that? Where's the creativity or the passion in that? Who are the jerks of agents and managers and casting directors and producers who recommend those types of seminars rather than actual Adler or Stanislavsky methods-- actually, you know, challenges and creations of something outside of one's self, let alone one's look? 

I know Raquel would have a lot to say about this. Hell, I know Jennifer (Krista Allen) would have a lot to say about this! Yet, they're both buying into it in their own, perhaps slightly more subtle ways. Raquel is such a self-sabotager, and it makes me increasingly sad because just when I thought she might have a chance to be happy, even for a minute, boom! She takes the crappy Syfy movie and urges Connor to go be in a fake relationship, which basically means putting themselves on hold. But one thing that won't be put on hold? Their baby. That thing is going to keep growing whether she wants to pretend it's not there or not! And sooner or later, he's going to notice, and even if he's not sure it's his because she doesn't want to mess up his new life or chance or whatever, it's going to mess with him even more than his already troubled little mind can handle. Is it too much to wish that just once someone here had a happy, rom-com ending? I would give that to Raquel and Connor in a heartbeat.

Onto Jennifer, though. Le sigh, Jennifer, le sigh. There are so many things I want this storyline to turn out to be to shine a light on those "backroom deals" that everyone here in Hollywood knows happens but no one wants to talk about. Come on, the timing with Tom and Katie's divorce is just too fortuitous! The fake relationship is one angle, certainly, but the way the media is going to create the story the publicity team feeds them is another. The line between truth and fiction is a blurry mess here in Hollywood, perhaps more so on the red carpet than on the screen. But this show doesn't have a main character who's a member of the media in any way, so I wonder if that part of the story can truly be explored the way I am imagining it (and full disclosure, the way I am pitching it in my own pilot which was in place far before I learned of this storyline, thankyouverymuch!). There has to be more than meets the eye with Jennifer, though. It seems too easy that she would need to hire some new, young member of Hollywood rather than just go out and organically seduce one, especially if all she really wants is someone to go to premieres with or be photographed with on Robertson or at Katsuya or whatever. I hope, just like with Kal (Andra Fuller), we get to explore more of her back story and the why behind the behavior. She certainly skirted the secret sharing quickly and efficiently! Besides, it certainly seems questionable to me right now, too, that Connor would have more reservations about all of this than she would-- especially considering how fast he went with her and signed the confidentiality agreement. It's naive to do that without your agent present if you think it's a movie offer, but he just turned on her so quickly-- went from adventurous and excited, the way he usually gets his rushes, to offended and disgusted with the implications. Even if he genuinely cares for Raquel, I find it hard to believe he wouldn't entertain the idea of sleeping with Jennifer; he certainly still checked out Abby (Cassie Steele), even knowing she's with Nick (Joe Dinicol) now. It seemed out of character for him, but Jennifer's character is still in question.

And speaking of Kal, I never in a million years expected to find himself in this position, but I could not be happier that I did. That sounds terrible, but I'm a big believer in doing whatever you need to do to fix yourself-- by yourself. And in Kal's case, he kind of has to go at this alone because everyone around him just does for him what they think he wants, not what's in his best interest, anyway. He had to literally lock himself in a room in order to get help, but the fact that he was willing to do that proved he really wants it. The sadness in his eyes when he was "sprung" was palpable, and admittedly I would love to see him just drive back up the coast to that little hippie-run B&B Tariq (Benjamin Charles Watson) took him to a few episodes ago and work on himself in the quiet, the fresh air, and the complete anonymity. Preferably with a notebook so he can get a whole honest album out of it. That I will be the first to buy. 

Once again, the timing could not be more perfect. Frank Ocean just came out of the closet, and Kal is still keeping himself trapped in his own. So far Kal took the first step simply by being honest about his intentions-- and then another big one by admitting he was gay out-loud. I couldn't help but wonder if he had never said it before, not even to himself. The way he said it was so hurtful it's easy to understand why he would want to push it away, out of mind, and think of himself instead as the puffed up rapper he created and therefore can actually control. But that's the kind of thinking he has to find a way to stop. Is it instinct that makes him hate himself for being gay? I don't think so; I think it was something learned a long time ago that is now so deep-rooted in his psyche it feels like instinct. And that is not something easy to change. Neither is the posturing behavior he has reached for as his crutch all of these years. But it's what he has to change if he wants to be truly worthy of love-- Tariq's or his own. 

I also have to wonder what else is in Kal's story that we will (hopefully) soon learn. He is so jumpy, and he covers it with confrontation, that I wonder if there was abuse in his childhood that he will have to get through-- that perhaps caused his hatred of homosexuality. Her certainly seems much more complex than just your average guy uncomfortable with what he doesn't fully understand, and that's what makes him such an amazing character to watch. Sh*t is about to get real, y'all! All the Canadian Emmys for Fuller!

Oh, and if "Hard Times" leaked, where's my copy!?

I can't feel too badly for Nick at the end there, though. There are far too many cases of those who aren't truly deserving getting ahead in Hollywood (I glossed over Abby's whole part of this episode on purpose because it is the prime example of this), so if at the end of the day, he isn't funny enough or smart enough or quick enough on his feet to cut it in Paul F. Tompkins' writer's room, then he shouldn't get the job. No matter how much he may "need" it, no matter how much he may "want" it, no matter how much the show has set him up to be the more "important" (read: lead) character from Sabrina (Georgina Reilly). At least Sabrina came prepared, and she tried to help him. He's just trying to float by, which is only a strategy equipped for reality shows, and even then, the floater is usually called, and then evicted, out.

(I also didn't want to talk about Abby because I feel like this episode had no stakes for her. The little Christian actors who are secretly sexing each other are not actually scary or threatening in any way. And unless they roofie her or want to bring her into their dressing room trysts in a threesome, they're nothing that doesn't happen on the set of just about every show anyway. It was a yawner for me, and that was unfortunate because it took away so much time from fascinating moments with Kal, Raquel, and Jennifer. But seeing as how Alan Thicke isn't sticking around for the whole rest of the season, and Abby only booked a couple of days on that show within a show anyway, hopefully that will wrap up quickly and quietly and we can all move on.)

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