How to Explain to Your Friends That You're Watching The L.A. Complex

I’m not going to say you shouldn’t be ashamed of yourself.

I am. I watched the first episode of The L.A. Complex on a whim and have hate-watched it ever since. It is my Smash, my latter seasons of Nip/Tuck. The L.A. Complex, starting up for Season 2 on The CW tonight, is a Canadian show built on cultural depravity and schadenfreude with characters so soapy and near-unlikable that the casual viewer has to laugh. “What is this show?” the viewer of Two and a Half Men might ask. “What are you watching? Let’s see what’s on FX.”

And, for all appearances, the show is really awful. The characters really are hateable, the situations are so outlandish that they’re like SNL parodies if SNL had any balls, and it’s all set in some fictional version of Los Angeles I’m pretty sure only exists in the minds of Canadians (not a Spanish-speaking person anywhere? Come on, son). But there’s something about it, isn’t there?

Even though Nick seems to bumble nervously through the stand-up comedy scene like if Hugh Grant were cast in Punchline, he also has equal turns of moral clarity and hamartia. We want hard-working Alicia to win but are far more interested by what she’ll do when she doesn’t—you know, like porn. And with so many other self-involved characters representing everything everyone hates about show business, watching them constantly have bottles broken into their faces, throw up during auditions, or just all-around suffer escalating consequences for a series of poor decisions is fun to watch. Am I right?

So, when you disappear for an hour every week to catch up with the kids living in the 'Luxe, and you've already exhausted the "washing your hair" line and you've run out of grandfathers whose funerals you can attend, you're going to have to come clean. Here are some ways to get your friends to understand what it is that you're watching.


It stars someone from Firefly.

If you're a Browncoat, this is the perfect time to play that card. As a Firefly fan, you're morally obligated to watch every series any cast member of that show has been on since. It's why you suffered through V. It's why you own every season of Castle. It's why you bought all those bland Subway sandwiches for Chuck. What's more, Jewel Staite also plays probably the most nuanced character on The L.A. Complex, an older actress (read: age 30) named Raquel who's trying to land a part in Hollywood that isn't a mom. But that doesn't really matter, does it? Your friends just have to hear you say "Firefly" and they know you will watch anything so you can mentally plan that Kaylee fan-fiction mash-up you've been knocking around.


Canada's geopolitical vision of the United States' most globalized industry is compelling.

It should be noted that this is a Canadian show set in Los Angeles. A sizable percentage of the characters are from Canada, trying to be stars in the United States. Part of Abby's backstory is that she's here illegally. So not only is this show about how Los Angeles takes advantage of people trying to "make it," it can be read as a story of the U.S. and its most globally prominent industry perverting the sweet, innocent maple leafs that happen to drift its way. Even though I say that everyone on the show is totally hateable, they can also be characterized as really sweet and naive but ready to sink down to the dirty pool Americans play in order to chase their dreams. Racquel is the only one that seems honestly hardened but she's also understandably jaded after being in LA for years. Dropping the word "geopolitical" will not only make you sound smart but will also distract from the fact that, yeah, Alicia just said, "What am I Amish? Of course I've had sex with a girl."


It deals with social problems—kinda?

Tariq's story, a music studio intern from Montreal who gets romantically involved with an deeply closeted rap star named Kal, is twisted around some hardly touched-on topics on television, like "the down-low" and American machismo. Cal is frightening and their dramatically cresting and falling relationship (sometimes they go to a bed and breakfast, sometimes he beats Tariq's face until Tariq spits up blood) is far different from other portrayals of closeted males. Though, if I were involved with someone who had a history of violence against people looking at him the wrong way, I would shrink from telling all my friends that he's totally gay. I suppose Tariq finds solace in "the truth shall set you free." Sometimes, however, it's just your teeth that are set free. Along with Tariq's storyline is the general question of temporary poverty surrounding those trying to hack it in Hollywood. There was a point in Season 1 where Nick taught Abby how to eat in LA by stealing bottles from trashcans, turning them in for cash to buy bait, and then fishing off the Venice pier. So I'm saying that, sometimes, things get real. Oh, well, except for that thing Connor does instead of cutting where he pours kettles of hot water on his forearms. That's just weird.


It's not any worse than Smash or Glee.

Lots of people watch a lot of questionable shows. At least these characters perform original pieces and material. Although there's not a solid shining character on this show, there aren't any who ruin everything. There's no Ellis on this show. But if all your friends are into Mad Men and Breaking Bad, just remind them of the time when they were really into Dawson's Creek and Everwood. If they never liked those shows, try the "geopolitical" thing again. If that doesn't work, just move. It looks like you live on my Twitter feed which is rife with television academics and professional critics and and that's no place for someone that likes The LA Complex.


Everyone's real pretty.

If all else fails, just fall back on what The CW does best: offer shows with people who are pleasing to the eye. People might judge you, but they can't blame you for watching for Alicia's stripping scenes or feeling heart flutters for Connor, the damaged pretty boy with an accent. Let's face it, Dr. Robert Chase isn't going to be around next year. This is your only opportunity to see a blond Australian in scrubs right now.


Hopefully, that should get your judge-y friends off your back. If not, don't worry: Oh Sit! starts up in August and they'll all be too compelled by a game show based on musical chairs to worry about what you're doing. And then you'll be able to enjoy your campy fare in peace. The last thing you need is someone telling you Racquel's surprise pregnancy is ridiculous. Like you don't already know.



Will you be tuning into The L.A. Complex tonight? If so, what draws you to the show?

Comments (22)
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I think it's a good show so there I said it. Enjoyed this article. Should I be ashamed that I like L.A Complex? Stealth writing. Like there was a rapper called Infinite Jester. David Foster Wallace fan? Trashy on the surface, but good writing--like L.A.
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Totally agree that it's fun to watch the characters suffer the consequences of their bad decisions. 2nd worst quote from the show: when Abby says "My vagina is closed for business." LOL
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It's that show that if asked I can go on for hours why I despise it, but then I still watch it.
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I love this show; I don't even hate watch it haha! I just watch it because I think it's really good! It's on Tuesdays on The CW yall!
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lol "my latter seasons of Nip/Tuck." SO TRUE.
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That Firefly comment is spot on. :)

I was going to ignore this show, then I saw whats her face from FireFly is in it and decided to give it a chance.

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I don't watch this show but I guess playing the Firefly card would be a lot better than playing the Degrassi TNG card.
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Now if you could a review on how to tell your friends not to watch LA Complex.
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It's on the CW. Not watching probably isn't difficult.



But if they already ARE watching it, there's no hope for them. They'll be stuck at the Luxe until Abby inevitably burns the place down. #primeForABreakdown
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I really tried watching the first episode when it aired, just to see what the show is about. I skipped most of it, watching only a few minutes in total. It really is that boring. So I appreciate the statement "the show is really awful".
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Watching a few minutes = you have no idea what this show is.
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Well, I think I've watched every TV series to date that stars a Firefly alum so I guess that would be my excuse, except that I don't watch this. After realising that Jewel was starring in it though I have been tempted (esspecially as I'm currently re-watching Stargate Atlantis season four).

I think I'll give season one the four episode test.
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Hey, I'm back-watching certain episodes of Hercules to check out an early Gina Torres (using electric eels as weapons, for example), but I won't watch this.
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What about Cleopatra 2525?
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The fact that it's great draws me in. Most critics have praised it (not in a love-hate way) because it genuinely is an entertaining, well-written show, and IMO is the best thing on the CW (though I love Vampire Diaries).
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I've been surprised at how many positive reviews the show has been getting. Not because I've seen it and think it sucks -- I have no opinion as I haven't tried watching it -- but it just seeeeeems like it would suck.



I guess I should put a little more trust in Jewel Staite. Aside from Firefly, she may not have had roles in the best shows, but she's usually in good ones.
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This is one of the major problems with the current TV watching public. People dismiss things WITHOUT EVEN WATCHING THEM. It's how good shows fail, saying "Well, this seems like it could be bad." There's no harm in giving things a try, especially when they get lots of positive feedback.
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I do kind of agree with you, but in my defense (and others, I guess), I feel like there does need to be an internal selection process of what shows I try and what I don't. I can't possibly watch the pilot or premiere (or the subsequent few episodes) of EVERY new show that networks decide to air, otherwise my already full plate of TV will take over my whole life. I'm not completely dismissing it though... I may try watching it later on when I have time to kill.
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It's a good, crazy series to keep in your back pocket, especially since it's summer and you're not dying to watch Here Comes Honey Boo Boo (or maybe you are -- no judgement). Once you clear out your Hulu queue and you want to watch a bunch of kids be laughably awful to each other and the people around them, it's good to flip on.



It's soapy but entertaining. Worth a shot unless you hate that sort of thing. Then Here Comes Honey Boo Boo might be right for you.
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I've watched every episode. It's terrible. Like if Melrose Place had a dumpster baby, this would be it. However, Jewel Staite.
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This is way beter than Melrose Place...like that was a benchmark anyways.
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Ha. Dumpster baby.



Jewel Staite is a pretty great reason. I also like Raquel's movie "partners," the Rosencrantz and Guildenstern of primetime soaps. There are a few reasons to keep watching this show but it is not necessarily the sum of its parts.



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