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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.

We are currently living in the golden age of television. Just like in the 40s with comics, television is giving audiences unprecedented access to content that no audience in history has been able to have. From shows about cops to shows about the beginning of man, television seemingly has it all, and that is an overwhelming positive. We are also living in an era where lots of television shows are lost in the mix as shows get straddled with airing on upcoming networks or just getting lost in the shuffle of new management of a network. This is going to be the first article in a new column that is called Shows You Aren’t Watching But Should. This is the inaugural article, so brace yourselves, and don’t tread lightly because chances are, you’re most likely not watching the shows that I’ll be spotlighting weekly. I’m hoping that changes. All of these shows I take a look at are currently airing right now or have just wrapped their current seasons and have either been renewed or awaiting renewal.

Magic City
Starz. The new kid on the block. Its claim to fame is that it was the home to the cult classic comedy Party Down before scrapping it in favor of going to an only drama primetime lineup. Sure, Starz has a long way to go before it can catch up to Showtime and HBO as a true player in the pay cable world but it has been doing well in getting a footing in an increasingly crowded market. It also has to fight off direct ompetition from Cinemax. The network has started getting some notice thanks to airing Torchwood: Miracle Day, Spartacus, and snagging Kelsey Grammer for the lead in its award winning series Boss, wherein Grammer won a Golden Globe for his work beating out the likes of Jon Hamm and Bryan Cranston. Their show that is the most underrated, but is truly a feast for the eyes, is its Miami set gangster drama Magic City.

Written by Mitch Glazer and starring Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Olga Kurylenko, Steven Stait, and Danny Huston amongst others, Magic City is a sprawling tale of corruption and power set in late 1950s Miami. Jeffrey Dean Morgan is our hero, playing hotelier Ike Evans, a man trying to balance his dealings with the mob underworld (as seen through his interactions with Huston’s gangster Ben Diamond) and making sure that his business is, well, legitimate in the eyes of the law. It is a balancing act that propels this series as it gets into darker and darker territory. Ike is a man that is being hunted by both sides of the law, meaning he has nowhere to hide or turn too. The law wants him because of his shady business dealings and the wanted seek the cut that Ike has hastily talked his way out of giving. It is a dynamic that has rarely been seen before. A man pushed into a corner and only has one option. Fight his way out or die trying.

The writing here is sharp. Mitch Glazer has a passion for the era and it shows in the first season. Detail that only a local with passion (yes, Glazer grew up in Miami) could really hit the marks the way this show does. Glazer, in fact, wrote every single episode in the show’s short (eight episode) first season. The storylines do not drag out for too long, and events move at a good pace. Also, thanks to it airing on Starz, this show does not shy away from nudity and while some paycable shows overdo it in the nudity department, this show shows off the buff at an appropriate level. And though it may seem unnecessary to mention the nudity, I only bring it up because there are certain people who are privy to nudity, and well, the statement was both a warning and a heads up, depending on where you fall when it comes to the category that is nudity on TV.

For people yearning for a good old fashioned gangster drama set in a place and time that has not been seen on television in a long, long time, then Magic City is the show for you. It is both sexy and tantalizing while it features a great cast in a compelling ensemble setting. This is definitely worth a shot. It is good, so check it out already! Especially since the show is in production of its second season and will feature the likes of Esai Morales and James Caan in the new season, which is set to premiere in the Spring of 2013.