PILOT WATCH 2010!!!
First show on death watch? Fox's Lone Star, a show that garnered some of the best reviews of the new season. According to the reviews, it is daring and original, with amazing characters that challenge and engage the viewer. If you haven't seen or heard about it, Lone Star is about a con man who finds himself married to two completely different women, both of whom he loves. The audience is asked to identify and sympathize with this guy, whose love is so great that it must be spread between two victims -- erm, lovely ladies. But the con man has a problem -- His mean dad David Keith wants the con man to pull the con on his Rich Wife's dad, played by Jon Voight. What IS a con man to do?
There's a movie called The Bigamist, where the magnificent Edmond O'Brien plays a traveling salesman (shut up; it's an old black-and-white) who finds himself falling in love with a woman on his route, even as he's got a wife at home. And you sympathize with him, because he is a lonely guy who really does begin to fall in love with this other woman. There's something about the journey of him falling for this woman that engages you in his struggle. The problem with Lone Star is that there IS no journey. When the audience meets this guy, he's already married to these two dupes. And this folly continues with the marketing. You've seen the poster: Pretty boy sitting on the bed, with anonymous lady legs wrapped around him. Underneath that, same poster, different bed, different lady legs. What does that poster say to you? Well, it says that this is a show that is going to use women the way they are always used on TeeVee, and that you, the audience member, are supposed to really feel for this poor fucker. But the women? Well, they have hot legs and are otherwise anonymous, just the way men like their women. And they love this asshole. That's all you need, right?
So who, pray fucking tell, is the audience for this show? It isn't men, because it's about a guy who loves two women. He does not have sex with them at the same time, so the men are out. It's not women, because the two anonymous sets of lady legs don't exactly lure women in. SO WHO IS IT? Which segment of the audience is Lone Star for? The reasons are coming fast and furious: It's serialized, it's too out-of-the-box, there was too much competition on against it, it's too Dallas, it's not Dallas enough, nobody even remembers Dallas... but they are overlooking the simplest explanation of them all -- nobody wanted to watch a show where the bigamist was the hero.
I realize that people are shouting all over the Internet, "IF YOU ARE A WRITER AND YOU DO NOT LOVE LONE STAR, THEN THERE IS SOMETHING WRONG WITH YOU." May I submit an alternative? Just because a show is distasteful ("daring" is the euphemism for that in television) doesn't make it great. Sure, there are different types of heroes out there and anti-heroes get just as much play as regular heroes. But if your anti-hero just really has a lot of love for two women and it's his DAD who's the real villain, well... did his dad just fucking marry two women? No. He did not. So I'm kind of on the dad's side. Stop fucking around and get the job done.
It's not a bad thing to be on the dad's side, unless the show is NOT on the dad's side. And the show isn't. The show tells the audience that you need to feel for the con man. He's the true anti-hero, and the dad is a bad guy. For what? For knowing that this is just a terrible fucking idea?
There was an easier way in to Lone Star. I wonder if that was even explored, or if the whole anti-hero idea just took over to such a degree that it turned the character into a skeevy asshole. It's a salacious premise, and they obviously thought that that was all they needed to draw people in. I'm frankly shocked at the number of women who think this is an awesome show. Seriously, is there a problem here? Have we become so inured to how women are treated on TeeVee that this is acceptably gritty television?
There was a scene in last week's Rubicon episode where one of the (many) powerful male characters pays his secretary for blow jobs. Seriously, so she can go shopping. BECAUSE WOMEN WILL GIVE BLOW JOBS FOR MAD MONEY. This was also treated in a salacious way, like, "Hey, this is a very complex character. Get it? What, the girl? Dunno. Just some whore."
Now, Don Draper is a total fucking asshole on Mad Men. He treats women horribly. I hate the way he treats them. BUT I UNDERSTAND WHY HE DOES IT. And the female characters aren't just used the way they are on every other show. Betty Draper is in every way Don's equal in the "fuck you" department. Anyone who thinks the women on Mad Men aren't as complex as the men is not paying attention. But why oh fucking WHY must women be constantly used to develop what passes for male complexity? It's like some kind of a shorthand. I HATE that we are still using women as a reflection for men. And while I really do NOT want to see dramas fail because it's bad for business, I understand why people didn't tune in for Lone Star. I don't think it's the best new show of the season. Not even close. And I'm flummoxed as to why more women are not hurling flaming arrows at the tainted morality of this show.