In the first Shows You Aren’t Watching But Should column we talked about Starz’s underrated gangster drama, Magic City. Today we’ll be discussing a very different series…
The LA Complex
A Canadian product. As a Canadian TV Junkie, I feel like I can say without a doubt that most Canadian TV shows suck. They just do. All of the great storytellers from Canada, along with lots of the top tier actors, have fled or are fleeing to America for opportunity to make more money and be apart of better productions. Out of the last 10 years, Canada has only produced a handful of television classics, in my opinion, and they are Kenny vs Spenny, Call Me Fitz, and this show, The LA Complex.
Unfortunately for The LA Complex, the logline for this show makes it sound a lot worse then it actually it is. The show itself, at its most bare bones description, is about a group of Canadians (ironic, huh) who are making their way up the ladder in Hollywood and who all happen to live in the same complex. It sounds like Melrose Place 3.0 (yes, I’m making reference to the awful remake of the series) and though I only watched the pilot for the Melrose redo and never watched a single episode of the original show, this show, from what I have been told is above and beyond the best of the batch. And what’s even worse for the show is that its premiere on CW (a network that should really be deemed a cable network because of its miserable ratings) ranked the lowest broadcast premiere in the history of modern US television. That is something this show did not deserve to have as its record. Though, my feeling is that the bad ratings had more to do with poor promotion and the fact that the first 6 episodes were already online thanks to having premiered ahead of its CW (aka American) premiere.
What The LA Complex does so well is that it knows how to soap things up without going too far overboard. It also delves into some of the nitty and gritty parts of the Hollywood experience. The show does take a few dramatic turns and always leaves an episode on a cliffhanger, but what I can definitively say is that this show knows what it wants to be and that is — your new guilty pleasure. I know a dozen male friends who secretly are hooked onto the show, much like myself, and what this show does better then anything other is that it does not overplay the Canadian aspects of the series. It single handedly tries to mask the Canadianness of the characters and this might be in line with the show’s primary location.
Now for what makes this show appealing. I have to say, though the show’s biggest star arguably is Jewel Staite of Firefly flame, she actually is not the biggest draw in the show. Though she plays the role of Raquel, a washed up actress trying to keep her fifteen minutes of fame alive and beautiful, the draw comes from the show’s breakout star Andra Fuller who plays Kaldrick King. What I have to give The LA Complex credit for is the fact that they’re taking on what is one of the most taboo subjects in the Entertainment industry and pulling it off with such vigor in the fact that (SPOILERS) Kaldrick King, a major (he’s suppose to be P. Diddy big) rapper, struggling with his homosexuality. A major taboo in not only rap music (Frank Ocean came out after the show started airing the storyline) but also in the African-American community. It’s a storyline that’s only able to succeed in Fuller’s stellar work as he comes off as being tough and violent (he beats the shit out of his love Tariq when they’re caught kissing in the studio) to shift suspicion away from his homosexuality activity. (END SPOILERS). The other big draw is the work of Jonathan Patrick Moore who plays Connor Lake, the breakout star of a new medical TV series who has had virtually zero exposure to fame before the role. He plays someone who should have it all, and appears to have it all on the outside but is empty and boy like on the inside. Connor truly is a boy in a man’s body and a lonely one at that. His draw is in the fact that he comes off as so innocent when other actors would play him off as being more of a womanizer and could have been less sympathetic when the self harm stuff started appearing.
The other storylines are just as good and appearances by the likes of Mary Lynn Rajskub, Paul Tompkins, and Alan Thicke make this show even more enjoyable. Definitely better then the mediocre soap crap CW puts out (not looking at you Supernatural/Smallville). This is one of the best guilty pleasure series out there. Its treatment of Hollywood might not be as glamorous as Entourage, but this show is way more addictive, way more fast pace, and a lot less douchey. My suggestion is that you get this show when it hits Netflix or DVD and start watching. It definitely deserves more viewers then the 300k it averages now because this show is addictive. Damn addictive. Now it’s not award winning television, but if you like to be taken on an unsophisticated ride, try this. It’s definitely the best primetime soap out there right now that both sexes can handle watching in all of its juicy glory. I say this to the guys out there, if your girl wants to watch something with you and she asks you what to watch, suggest this, because she’ll like it — you’ll like it — and who knows, both of you may walk away satisfied in more ways then one. I’m just saying.