Monday, March 9, 2009

The L Word finale: Kinda lacking. . .

Ilene Chaiken, creator, empress, and spirit guide of The L Word: You are no David Chase.

Chase, you see, can create an open-ended, existential series finale of his show, The Sopranos, because, well, he earned it. That finale was in keeping with the status-quo-defying, challenging, philosophically complex nature of his drama.
The L Word? Not so much.

The L Word, as the obnoxiously self-approbating one-hour special reminded us, was not just about the culture of lesbians, it was about friendships and relationships and work and fashion. The show was at its best when it got off the soap box and just gave us good, juicy melodrama and let the cast just be their gorgeous talented selves.

And I actually loved what Chaiken was doing with the “Who Killed Jenny?” final season. It was campy, it was bitchy, it was naughty—in all the right ways.

For those who don’t know. The first episode of The L Word’s final season started with ingĂ©nue-turned-villainess Jenny being fished out of the pool, quite dead. The cops arrived, as the cast huddled together in the home of power lesbians Bette and Tina. The whole season was a flashback.

“I could kill her!” several characters—now suspects—hissed at various times during the show’s last mini season.

Was it adorably flaky and gossipy Alice, pissed because Jenny stole her screenplay idea?

Was it pregnant transsexual Max, angry because Jenny refused to accept him as a man?

Was it film producer Tina, convinced that Jenny stole the negatives to her movie?

Was it domesticated lothario Shane, ready to lash out because Jenny had her on such a short leash?

Was it spacey starlet Niki, rejected by Jenny and now pining after Shane?

Was it righteous Bette, furious that Jenny was meddling in her private affairs?
And so on.

So now here’s the finale and all the gals are together and there’s a suspiciously loose railing on the balcony and we all know what’s coming—the only pleasure at this point is finding out the who’s and how’s—and instead we get . . . nothing.

Chaiken, in all her infinite wisdom, decided to leave the mystery of “Who Killed Jenny?” open-ended.

Let me get this straight: You frame an entire season around a mystery and then you. . . don’t solve the mystery?

It’s arrogant. It’s cruel. And most importantly, it’s just plain dumb.

It’s not what David Chase did, at all. Ambigious endings are fine, you see. But they need a context, a purpose.

So can someone please explain to me, what was the damn point?

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Two Words: National Television—The Top Chef Reunion Show recap

Here was the problem with this year’s Top Chef reunion show.
As much as I enjoyed this season—and I did—I simply didn’t watch last week's anticlimactic finale and think “I want more, more, more!”
The scallops had been smoked. The creative monkeys had been fed. There were no questions left unanswered.

I wasn’t dying to know: What became of Hosea and Leah’s showmance?
I never asked myself: Is Tom Colicchio a sexier baldy bear to straight women or gay men?
I never pondered: Would kissing Stefan's head bring me good luck?
I never worried: Is Jeff was still feeling the pain of his shirtless objectification?

I just didn't care.

(Speaking of Jeff feeling objectified: How on earth did Bravo squander an opportunity for a shirtless Jeff montage? We got a Hootie montage and a bald guy montage and a Stefan and Fabio bromance montage. But no Jeff in a towel? Bravo, you're slipping.)

I knew things were off to a rocky start when Andy Cohen asked the group, “Is anyone surprised that Hosea won?” As hands shot up unanimously in living rooms across American, the Cheftestants' hands remained politely on their laps. Except for Leah who raised hers. And then, when she realized she was the only one, she quickly put it down: “Just kidding,” she lied.

Later, Andy asked: Does anyone think Daniel can win fan favorite?
As viewers across American looked at their friends and signficant others and asked, “Who’s Daniel?” the Cheftestants raised their hands in the affirmative. Because absolutely a man who was voted off on the fourth show can win fan favorite!

That being said, the Jamie and Leah drunken elimination-panel clip was quite funny and went a long way to explain the “wacky” headbands. (There! A question answered that I didn’t even know I had!)

And it was cute to see my girl Adrian playing yenta, trying to get Hosea to move to New York to be closer to Leah, even if the whole showmance montage was painfully awkward. (Leah looked as though she was in actual physical pain.)

Happy enough to see Fabio win fan favorite, although Carla would’ve been my preference. (Yes, she replaced Adrian in my heart: We reality show viewers are a fickle bunch, aren’t we?)

Most amusing perhaps was the "I’m Not Really An Asshole"-Off between Toby Young and Stefan:

"It’s just that we care so much," said Toby (unconvincingly), explaining why he was so mean to the Cheftestants. "And you make us so mad when you fail," he added (convincingly).

"You see, I wanted Hosea to win," said Stefan (unconvincingly). And Jamie has a "nice rack," he later added (convincingly).

“Rack of lamb,” said Colicchio. Ha.

And then, a slightly gloomy reunion show ended on a seriously gloomy note, as Andy asked Hosea and Fabio for updates on their ailing parents.
For the record, Fabio’s mother is doing worse.
And Hosea’s father is . . . also doing worse.

Good times.

Oh well, see ya next season. In the meantime, may there be a chicken in every pot and a hootie for every hoo.