RUNNING TIME: 132 minutes
• Behind The Scenes
• Interviews With Main Cast Members
• Extras and Ohs
Girl meets girl. Girl loses girl. Girl spends 6 episodes trying to get over it.
Michelle Paradise, Marnie Alton, Megan Cavanagh, Angela Featherstone, Heather Matarazzo
Jennifer (Paradise) is a lesbian documentary filmmaker. When her fiancee cheats on her with their couples’ therapist, she is thrust headfirst into lesbian singledom once again, where she must once again learn the rules of their world, and from the example of her friends, who are dealing with their own problems.
Doing some minor research while waiting for this disc to make its way to my doorstep, there’s some general relief among gay/lesbian viewers that this show represents a more realistic, balanced view of lesbian life than, say, The L Word. And I can certainly understand that sentiment. Coincidentally, I spent most of the summer going through seasons 1-4 of that show on DVD. It’s a razor-sharp, quick-witted, big-hearted show that has no qualms tackling hard subject matter head on, but as a representative of the average middle-aged lesbian experience, it’s as true to life as Sex And The City is for the average, single woman in New York, though its characters are much less worthy of a brick-filled Prada bag to the skull. Except for maybe Jenny.
Exes and Ohs is indeed a more subdued affair. Its main cast is far more down to Earth, in looks and attitude, the situations easily identifiable, the writing more naturalistic. And that’s actually kind of the problem: Aside from the fact that the main cast is gay, there is nothing that separates this show from your average ABC midseason replacement, nothing that makes this show stand out from the herd. We’re dealing with yet another woman’s endless search for Mr(s). Right, another couples’ attempt to have a baby, a sexually liberated woman’s fear of commitment, a misunderstood hippie chick’s feeble attempts to be understood while keeping a roof over her head, and you can tell where all of these plot threads are going the second they’re introduced. There’s a running bit where Jennifer breaks the fourth wall to tell us about the rules of lesbian dating, but amusing as they tend to be, they happen too infrequently to make the show pop. The simplicity of a bunch of plot threads like these can only really be saved by some world class script writing, and the show’s just way too vanilla to take chances on that front. Far too often, the end of each episode is met with a feeling of “Well, that just happened” rather than “So, what happens next?”
Good idea: Making a new Faces of Death film. Bad idea: Making a new Faces of Death where all the victims die of old age.
The show’s one ace in the hole, however, is Jennifer, played by series creator Michelle Paradise. While her situation isn’t original, hers is the most developed, fleshed out character on the show, a sexually/romantically naive woman who’s trying so hard to both expand her horizons while she’s still hung up on her last love. Watching her stumble through these experiences is the show’s one true gleaming bright spot. Of all the places Paradise chooses not play it safe, it’s here, with every episode displaying Jennifer’s genuine, unforced awkwardness with herself and other people, with no caution thrown to the wind about trying to make her look cool for the camera. She’s the show’s heart, and it’s somewhat of a disservice that the show splinters its focus away from her towards four other characters who aren’t nearly as endearing. It’s arguable that the split focus is a selfless act of trying to not make the show all about her, seeing as she’s creator, writer, and actor, a triple play usually reserved for bigger names, but one good engaging character is more than enough to carry a show with a small scale such as this.
I think the biggest compliment I can give Exes and Ohs was that if it actually was on ABC, I’d ignore it with pride. It can be argued that all the show’s flaws are forgiveable for the sheer fact that it shows lesbians in the same situations their hetero counterparts have been able to see themselves in any given moment just flipping to a random channel. That is to say, this is a show about regular people dealing with regular relationship problems, they just happen to be gay. This is true, and symbolically, it goes a long way toward making homosexuality just as mundane as a man and a woman holding hands as they walk down the street. As entertainment, however, it’s simply nothing special.
Market analysts initially balked at the idea of Nintendo selling special clear, lightweight, “invisible” Wiis to make up for the drought of new systems during Christmas. The ignorance of the casual gamer, however, should never be underestimated.
Lots of filler, nothing’s over 4 minutes long, which is to be expected. The interviews with cast and crew are very rambly and disorganized from everyone except Paradise, and Heather Matarazzo, both of whom are consummate professionals the entire time. The Extrasodes are basically just deleted scenes, and they add nothing to the show, though cute on their own terms. The Behind The Scenes stuff is mostly the cast screwing around, though the clip involving a behind the scenes at the coffee bar at least attempts to live up to the “Behind The Scenes” label.
Pretty much how every lesbian’s face froze since Prop 8 passed.
The Extras and Ohs section has a hilarious pseudo-interview with Paradise and a woman from The Big Gay Sketch Show, a fun video blog with Paradise and co-star Marnie Alton fooling around. Apparently Alton sung a song that was featured at the end of one of the episodes, and there’s a video of her singing it live here as well. After that, for no good reason, an interview with The Gossip (Beth Ditto’s band), and a bunch of ads for other Logo shows. Again, nothing special.
L. O. L.