Tuesday, August 7, 2012

'The L.A. Complex' Makes Men of Its Characters, But The Women Are Left A Mess...

It's an interesting commentary that The L.A. Complex is allowing its male characters to mature and therefore hit their strides, if not achieve outright success, while the women seem to spiral further down a rabbit hole of flawed mistakes and potentially long-term detrimental decisions for their psyches. I'm not trying to imply anything about an intentional gender divide, but still I think it's a fascinating (and unfortunately accurate) assessment of the very real young individuals who come to Hollywood with stars in their eyes. While all who want to be actors need some validation in some ways, it has been my experience that the girls are more sensitive and therefore more susceptible to the trappings of this town.

At the start of "Be A Man," I started thinking about the various men and women on the show and their influences on each other. By the end of the episode, there were some new revelations-- and of course some additional complications-- but for the most part I realized that Alicia (remember Alicia!?) was far from the one making the worst choices.

You know how they say when a character is too good, he becomes vanilla? Or maybe "they" don't say that, but a few actors I have interviewed recently have implied it. There's not much to latch onto when things are "good," and right now this Christian actor kid is so "good" I couldn't even be bothered to learn his name. His flirtation with Abby (Cassie Steele) seemed harmless, since he was so-called "in love" with his co-star, and I honestly couldn't decide if him trying to hook up with Abby made him more or less interesting. At least it would give him something to do; integrating the new characters into these episodes is no way near the slamming you into the world the way the initial pilot did with all the leads.

On the one hand, this kid had such sage advice, he might be a mature force she needs. On the other, if he cheated on or dumped his current girlfriend to be with Abby, he would pretty much just be a stereotypical actor. At the start of this episode, he seemed a little "too good to be true," but at least he was anything but a cliche...

A stage mom telling Beth (Dayle McLeod) her brother needed a new look, now that was a cliche. But I think we should all count ourselves lucky that she didn't try to convince her Simon (Michael Levinson) needed plastic surgery. A haircut can't hurt. Hell, a new shirt once in a while would be nice, too. For both of them. Beth is fast winning her way into my heart, though. For as naive as she can be (come on, seeing the same kids at the same auditions automatically puts them in competition with each other; she's clearly street smart enough to know how to keep her and Simon going, yet she fell for this Real Housewife's line of bull?), she's also ten times tougher when she realizes she's been wronged. I like that kind of attitude. It's what you need in this town.

You know who doesn't have it but who started out seeming like she could? Abby. It's really unfortunate how far she has fallen-- and how much she seems to be falling for her co-star, down to the batty eyelashes and apologies to his actual girlfriend, though she wasn't doing anything wrong (even if she was feeling like she wanted to). It's kind of a shame that her character is used for comedic relief as much as she is because it spins her a bit into a cartoon when really there is a deep lesson behind her. Did she really not see the threesome coming? I was uncomfortable when they went to that weird arcade thinking that's where it would go. Maybe I'm just more cynical than most. And apparently a prude. But besides, comedic relief is what we have Nick (Joe Dinicol) for, and with his Googling brothels and paying for prostitutes across multiple credit cards, he has found his niche.

But how much could Abby have meant to Nick; he didn't even have her picture in his phone so when she called him her face would pop up!

And okay, maybe it's total projecting on my part, but watching Kal (Andra Fuller) stand by the taquito truck with his dad, he just had such a look of 'Why am I here?' on his face that betrayed his hopes and dreams and best intentions. A part of me-- and hell, maybe a part of him-- thought he was showing up to the shelter to reach out for help, but once he was there reality set in. This guy isn't going to save him; regardless of how he failed in the past, no one can save Kal now but Kal. On his terms, in his time. 

And it certainly didn't help that even when his father was attempting to apologize, he wouldn't look Kal in the eye. Like father, like son, it seems when it comes to confidence in themselves as men. But what really struck me was how even after everything-- including see his father be a dad to some random kid-- he pushed past the hurt and asked his father to stay around a little bit longer. I can't imagine this will end in anything but more heartache, but the possibilities of what Fuller can do with that thrill me.

If Connor (Jonathan Patrick Moore) really believed his TV show premiere is the biggest night of his life, he is a small, small man. And if hooking up with Jennifer (Krista Allen) is his go-to "feel better" cure, than maybe he hasn't matured as much as his banter with Raquel (Jewel Staite) might have implied. Still, the bruises to the egos in this episode were so spot-on. Raquel got cut down on set, in yet another amazing parody project-within-the-project, and she spun it around to the next sensitive artist. It's lashing out at its basest, and it's never to make herself feel better but at least to bring someone into the pit of self-deprecation with her.

Raquel may have cut him down because she was hurt, but she assessed him accurately. It's so fascinating how we can take what we hate about ourselves and throw it at others in judgement, only for the pieces to all still fit. She started out so vulnerable, so open, so mature by admitting she needed some validation, but she switched to vicious so quickly. It's clearly a go-to defense mechanism but somehow it makes it seem like she has things more under control than the young women who have been spending time doing dumb things and whoring themselves out (which may be redundant).

Well, until she got drunk and became a PSA, anyway. Tonight was Staite's "All the Canadian Emmys" episode if there ever was one. She was asked to run such a gammut of emotions in such a short amount of time, and she pulled it off flawlessly, beautifully, and relatably.

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