27 January 2020 | romanaclay
The Good, the Bad, and the...
I'm on the fence about this reboot -- 5 stars? 8 stars? It was better than 1 star, but not up to the level of 10. I gave it 7 mainly because I was seduced and couldn't say "no," but 6 is probably closer to my true feelings.
1. Nice to see several of my favorite characters return to reprise their roles from the original, along with some engaging newcomers, especially Dani (Arienne Mandi) and Nat (Stephanie Allynne).
2. Let's admit it -- Generation Q is a really nighttime soap set in an atypical milieu. It's not that far from the original in it's absurd story lines, it's just that the original had more finesse. If you're expecting an objective view of the lesbian scene, then move on. Plus the story lines aren't that far off from those in the original series, so let's not fault the producers for that. Enjoy the ride for what it is.
3. Despite it's flaws, each week I kept looking forward to the next chapter and wished there were at least two more episodes this season.
1. Unlike most of the lesbian and gay couples that I know, there are no long-term, stable relationships shown here. This was true of the original series, too. There are no hardcore butches, either. You know, girrrls who sport crew cuts and wear chain draped leather jackets and Doc Martins. While I can relate to several of the characters, in my experience most of them represent the social exception, not the social rule. On the other hand, that's what makes drama dramatic, n'est pas?
2. There were some truly annoying new characters -- mainly Finley (Jacqueline Toboni) and Jose (Freddy Miyares). Were they one (or two)-dimensional or what? Perhaps it's not their fault. As Jessica Rabbit famously said, "I'm not bad, I'm just drawn that way." (See Bad Rap Number 3, below)
As for the acting, a lot of it seemed under-rehearsed or perhaps the product of one or two takes. I have to blame the directors for many of the cringe-worthy performances or for settling for whatever the actors gave them, but it could just have been questionable casting.
About the casting, I wonder how many better or more experienced actors didn't audition or turned down offers because of the frequent graphic sexuality -- deep kisses, lot of gratuitous nude scenes, and mucho faux sex. In the original, Jennifer Beals as Bette was never exposed past her underwear or she discreetly covered her breasts when she was shown naked in bed with a lover (true, too, of Marlee Matlin, Cybill Shepherd, Jane Lynch, and other A-listers). So, clearly she had enough star power to draw her own lines, while newcomers had to accept what they were offered -- it's better than waiting tables forever.
For the record, I don't have a problem with sex scenes, graphic or not, but they need to make sense in the context of the story. There was something about the graphic sexuality in the original L-Word that seemed more right, especially in the early Jenny Schecter story line when she's finding her voice as a writer.
3. Much of the dialogue has real issues. When I can sit on the couch and practically mouth the next lines word-for-word before the characters speak them, there's something's wrong. Many of the conflicts between characters were so cliched, that I could barely wait for the next scene -- Bette vs. her lovers, Danni vs. Sophie, Alice vs. Nat and Gigi, MIcah vs. Jose, and so on down the hellish verbal rabbit hole.
This also refers back to my criticism of the directors. A good director knows how to motivate their actors, even when a scene is poorly written, or at least knows when to send the script back for a rewrite. Granted there must have been time and budget constraints, but the script should be polished before shooting begins and the writers should be on hand to make revisions when it's clear that something isn't working.
4. The music truly sucks. The background music, the soppy ballads, and the opening and closing credit tunes all suck. Who listens to this crap, anyway? Where's BETTY when we need them?
Finally, what is it about Showtime, the HBO wannabe, that keeps their dramas from realizing their full potential. Unlike HBO ("The Sopranos," "The Wire," "The Night of"), AMC ("Breaking Bad," "Better Call Saul"), Amazon ("Mrs. Maisel," "Fleabag"), and FX ("Fargo"), among others, Showtime's series are always straining for the top shelf, but never quite reaching it. Watching episodes of "Dexter," "Californication," "Masters of Sex," "Shameless," and "Ray Donovan," I come a way with the feeling that they're drawing on a pool of B-list writers or that the showrunners keep underestimating the audience's level of sophistication. [Aside: When did "showrunner" become a thing, anyway?]
Do the other networks have more generous budgets or is it a cultural thing at Showtime's executive level? Granted, HBO has had it's share of turkeys (Alan Ball's awful "Here and Now" and the unwatchable "Hello Ladies"), but when they're good, they're very, very good.
Back to Generation Q. Despite my many reservations, I was still surprised by the inevitable cliff-hanger (I thought it would be the election results) and am looking forward to a (hopefully) much improved Season Two.
Hey, that's a wrap!