The L.A. Complex, a Canadian import that premiered Tuesday night on The CW, is like a mix between Melrose Place and Fame. The show follows a group of young 20somethings trying desperately to make it in L.A. who all happen to live at ‘The Deluxe Suites’. The Deluxe is a run-down motel that now acts as a safe haven for struggling artists. The setting, in true soap opera style, provides a lot of possibility for drama, with competing talents and messy breakups…and pool parties that end in drug use and unprotected sex. (yes, that happened in the very first episode.)
The pilot begins with Abby, an illegal immigrant from Canada who has been in L.A. for six months without gaining any footing in the world of acting. Played by Degrassi alum Cassie Steele, Abby is the driving force of the show: she’s fun, sweet, and she makes mistakes viewers can relate to. (It also doesn’t hurt that Cassie Steele is one of the best actresses in the young cast). Broke, about to be dumped by her long distance sweetheart, and newly evicted, she ends up meeting Nick, a barista by day, shy stand-up comedian by night, who helps her get a room at The Deluxe. Nick is adorable, with his cute classes and bashful attitude, he’s the geek every girl overlooks, but every viewer falls in love with. Already, I’m rooting for Nick and Abby to get together, and so is Nick, for that matter, but that train gets derailed very fast when Abby meets Connor at the Deluxe pool party that night.
Connor is the one who ‘made it’, having just booked a lead in a pilot. His success is admired by all, and he is riding high on the attention: he is so sure of his own triumph that he moves into a shiny new house all to himself. Cocky, and a bit too smooth to be genuine, Connor ends up sleeping with a drunk/high Abby (on the roof *gasp*) that night. When Abby wakes up, she realizes that they had unprotected sex, and Connor, gentleman that he is, takes her to get Plan B (aka ‘the morning after pill’). He even pays!
Now, my suspicions of Connor aside (is he an earnest young actor or a hotheaded player?), I loved this story line, and here’s why:
1) It exists-I have never seen Plan B referred to on a mainstream television show geared at a teenage audience, 2) It was nice to see contraception being portrayed as both of their responsibility (the man and the woman) instead of just the woman going to get the pill by herself, and 3) The story line didn’t rule the entire episode. I have never seen another show deal so frankly with Plan B without passing judgments and making it an ‘issue’ episode. The whole ordeal lasted only a very short time (5minutes tops) and was not shown as a big event.
Instead, it was treated in a realistic way: two people had unprotected sex and used preventative measures afterwards, nothing more. Furthermore, the characters also proclaimed themselves STD free after realizing their lack of condoms the night before, which is another thing I rarely see on television. Unless there is a plot point about a character getting an STD, they are rarely mentioned on T.V. shows, especially not before one-night-stands or hook-ups (or when the characters are actually having sex). Teenage/young adult characters usually go from partner to partner without ever touching on the subject. So, it was refreshing to see the realities of sex shown so frankly, without condemning casual sex. The only consequence of taking Plan B was that Abby ended up throwing up in the middle of a huge audition–Plan B can cause extreme nausea. But even that didn’t come off so much as a moral punishment as it did a case of bad timing.
Meanwhile, Raquel, another down on her luck actress living at The Deluxe, is having trouble finding a job that is ‘age appropriate’. Raquel, who I assume is meant to be in her late 20s to early 30s, is considered too old to play roles for young women and too young to play the mother. In other words, Raquel is in danger of being left behind and becoming a has-been. Also living at The Deluxe is Alicia, a sweet dancer who introduces Abby into her work as a stripper, and Tariq, a young producer stuck being a gopher/intern for a famous producer.
Overall, I’m still not sold on the show. Abby and Nick are strong, and the show has potential, but I had a hard time getting a read on the other characters, and I’m not sure I even want to know them better. But, I have a theory about pilots: if you’re at all interested, stick around for the next episode, because pilots can be very misleading concerning the tone or direction of a show.
The next new episode will air Tuesday night at 9p.m. I’m not sure if my love for Nick will be enough to keep me watching, but I will definitely be tuning in again next week to find out. Did any of you watch The LA Complex? Are you Cassie Steele fans like me? What was your take on Connor? And, will you be watching?