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Move into 'The L.A. Complex': Characters

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The L.A. Complex - "Down in L.A."


Premiering last night on the CW (though the first episode was already available on Hulu) is Canadian series The L.A. Complex. Think of it as a sort of Melrose Place, where a bunch of people who want to be famous in Hollywood live in a motel together. There's the actress, the dancer, the stand up comedian, the music mixer, the new star, and the aging performer. Well, aging by Los Angeles standards, which means she's almost 30. Will any of them succeed?

Reviews for this episode: Premise / Characters

Leading this pack is welcoming familiar face Jewel Staite (Firefly, Stargate: Atlantis). Though not even thirty yet herself, Staite makes Raquel a relatable character. Wrestling with the failure of an early hit show called Teenage Wasteland (interestingly, the original title of That '70s Show), Raquel now can't get another part, and casting directors keep wanting her to play the mom. She clings to her youth, and her actions seem desperate and pathetic. Yet, Staite somehow makes Raquel likeable, and viewers will root for her. She can be refreshingly honest, such as when she asks a room full of black girls if any of them has a white best friend, playing on a television trope. And though she is not a mentor to the younger ones yet, there are hints that she might be in time, once she finds her path a little bit better.

Chelan Simmons plays Alicia Lowe, the dancer. At first glance, she might seem like just a hot blond, but she is also really nice, which comes a little bit out of left field. Simmons' work in The L.A. Complex calls to mind her previous series Kyle XY, and makes one wonder why ABC Family hasn't made another decent show in awhile. Which is a tangent, to be sure, but Alicia doesn't get a lot of her own story in "Down in L.A.," so it's hard to go anywhere else with her yet.

Nick (Joe Dinicol, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World) has the best scenes in "Down in L.A." Hopelessly unfunny, despite living and breathing stand up, he is thrown completely off of his game by meeting Mary Lynn Rajskub (herself, 24), who is very rude to him, in line with her own comedic sensibilities. Adding insult to injury, Rajskub and Paul F. Tompkins (himself, Best Week Ever) lambast Nick after the show. Somehow this sequence is hilarious, despite its cruelty.

The young lovers are Abby (Cassie Steele, Degrassi: The Next Generation) and Connor (Jonathan Patrick Moore, Neighbours). He has just made it big through dumb luck, and she is failing miserable. He is kind to her, but in retrospect, he sleeps with a girl he knows has a boyfriend, so is his nice guy thing just an act? It's hard to tell, especially as he sadly moves into his empty house. Both of these characters are going to be the focus of many teenage crushes, and the reason young girls tune in week after week.

Sadly, Tariq's (Benjamin Charles Watson) tale is the one that fails to resonate. He desperately wants to be respected, and makes a bold move to do so. However, he also comes across as someone not willing to pay his dues before he finds recognition, already refusing to keep his head down in "Down in L.A." Not that his boss, Dynasty (Dayo Ade), isn't unnecessarily harsh, because he is. But will Tariq's character turn this around? Let's hope so.

Reviews for this episode: Premise / Characters

The L.A. Complex has already been given a second season in Canada. Hopefully, the CW will continue to air it, as "Down in L.A." is a promising start. Tune in Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on the CW. In Columbus, the CW is channel 13 (digital cable), 384 (satellite), 1013 (HD).

If you like my reviews, please follow me on Twitter! Article first published as TV Review: The L.A. Complex - "Down in L.A." on Blogcritics.