22 April 2012 | zephyr-123
Has a lot of potential. . .
I'm already developing a sort of love/hate relationship with this show. The love part is with Jennifer Love Hewitt, especially with the way she is so good at creating warm, likable and lovable characters. That's a big plus for me because I just finished watching the first (and probably the last) season of Ringer only to never attain that feeling of empathy or connection with the characters. Riley is very easy to like and feel a connection with. I also like and care about the other characters on the show, her coworkers and her mother (played by Cybill Sheperd). I also like the premise of the show which is about a single mother trying figure out how to provide on her own and going into prostitution as a means to do that which has to be a common issue for some single mothers.
The problems I'm having with the show have to do with the plot lines and characters needing more depth and complexity. There's simply not enough internal and external conflict happening with Riley over the choices she's making. She fairly easily segues into performing sexual favors after being hired as an LMT (Licensed Massage Therapist) without the pesky conscience. What I would expect to see is a woman who might start this in need of money to raise her kids but would have a mixture of good and bad in choosing it. She might go through periods of self-searching and guilt or disgust while sometimes actually enjoying it. She might develop issues of self-esteem while at the same time feeling a sense of power and confidence in her sexuality and in her life in general. But her experience so far is one-noted and difficult to believe. It just all comes off as so easy for her.
Another problem is the glorifying of the prostitution. It's made to look (exclusively) like a glamorous profession, easy to do, fabulous clothes and men who are all successful and good looking. Seriously, the "johns" so far are guys who could easily get it for free. They need to show more average, bald, old, fat, insecure or ugly men and Riley having to deal with performing sexually on guys who it wouldn't always be so personally gratifying for her to perform for. There are other issues that also need to be brought in (and maybe will be) such as the threat of STDs, the john who is abusive or dangerous, the angry wife. They did a little thing of a wife painting "WHORE" on Riley's car but it was turned into a big nothing. I would like to see a situation where some wife or girlfriend writes "WHORE" on Riley's car and comes after her but Riley has no defense or justification or is not vindicated in some way but has to deal with the real repercussions of being a hooker and damaging marriages and relationships. They're whitewashing what Riley is doing for a living and they made it look like the wife was the one to blame for the husband going to a "brothel".
Finally, there's this unexpected issue with the show. LMTs are up-in-arms about this show because they feel that it is depicting their profession in a negative light. They feel it enforces the misconceptions and stereotypes that it's common that LMTs perform sexually for clients as part of their job. A perception that they've combated for many years. They are afraid that they will lose the respect they have fought for and that it will cause an increase in clients coming in expecting, or possibly demanding, sexual favors in a hostile manner. They are concerned that LMTs who work alone may actually have their safety compromised by a client who won't take no for an answer. At the very least, the show will dredge up a loss of respect, snickers and jokes about the profession that LMTs have been able to assuage through decades of public education. I think they're right. The reason is because this show isn't depicting this scenario as a tacky "massage parlor" that is an obvious front to prostitution (something that I think the original movie came closer to) but as a legitimate massage therapy facility where the LMTs are performing sexually for clients. When real LMTs have posted their concerns on the CL Facebook page and on various message boards, they are met with disdain and ridicule by (already) fans of the show and treated like a nuisance that is raining on everybody's parade but they do have legitimate concerns that should be acknowledged. I don't think the show should be canceled or pulled like some LMTs suggest but they could have depicted the premise in a different manner (like the movie) or possibly attach a disclaimer about this issue during airing of episodes (as another LMT suggested). People pretty much know the difference between reality and fantasy, that real LMTs aren't hookers, right? But the reality is that there are plenty of people who watch TV and think that they are being well "educated" about something and will act on it.
This show has a lot of potential to go into areas about the premise with intelligence, sensitivity and depth. I hope it does so.