Monday, August 15, 2016

MTVP So Cal Summer 2016: The LA Complex 1.01: "Down in LA"

“You know, I don’t even care that I live out of my car just as long as it gets me to auditions.”

Now that we’ve worked our way through the first season of “UnREAL,” it’s time to move on to our third So Cal Summer show, “The LA Complex.” “The LA Complex” was a Canadian show that eventually also aired on the CW. The show is oh so Canadian in its sensibilities, which makes it kind of charming. It’s entertaining to watch how the production team thinks their fellow Canadians think of LA. One of the main characters, aspiring actor/musician Abby, is even from Toronto and has to field calls from her boyfriend who wants her to come home. The main characters are all struggling (or until recently struggling) artists trying to survive in Los Angeles. Most of them rent rooms at the Deluxe, which is the complex to which the title refers. It’s a motel, basically, where the owner is super chill (to a comical degree) and there are noisy pool parties in the courtyard on the regular. The show is really just a soap about aspiring artists, and it doesn’t really try to be anything more than that. The soapiness and Canadian-ness gives it good entertainment value.

The first character we meet in this episode is Abby. Like I said, she’s an aspiring actress/singer from Toronto. When we first meet her, she’s just been evicted, and she’s trying to break into her old apartment to get her stuff back. Her landlord catches her and chases her back outside, smashing the back window of Abby’s car before Abby drives away. Now homeless with even her car in tatters (it overheated), Abby calls her friend Tariq, a fellow Canadian who is in LA for an internship with a hip hop producer. He’s busy at work, but he sends his friend, aspiring comedian Nick, to help Abby instead. Nick puts water in her car and takes her to the Deluxe. He convinces to let Abby have a recently vacated room, even though she can’t pay right away.

We also meet Raquel, played by the always awesome Jewel Staite. I’ve been a fan of Jewel since I was twelve and she was Catalina on “Space Cases” (zabagabe!), although she’s probably best known for playing Kaylee the engineer on “Firefly.” Taking a page from Jewel’s own history with “Firefly,” Raquel is constantly asked about the short-lived show she was on several years ago that has become a cult hit. Specifically, it was called “Teenage Wasteland.” She’s having trouble finding work now, though, although she plays it off as just being picky. She encounters two aspiring young filmmakers who want her to read their script, and she decides she’s going to try and pitch the script to some of her industry contacts. She’s also been hooking up with Connor, a hot and somewhat younger Australian who just got a plum role on a new medical drama.

Now that he has some money, Connor is moving out of the Luxe and into his own house, so he’s having a big goodbye party. There’s a band playing on the balcony of the Luxe and everything. Even in the pilot, though Connor doesn’t find the successful life to be all that it’s cracked up to be. He doesn’t have time to help out Abby when she needs to get to an audition (more on that in a sec), and when he’s actually setting up his awesome new house, he seems rather lonely. That makes sense considering he’s used to living in a motel where everybody seems to just linger and party in the courtyard all the time. Living by himself is going to be quite the adjustment.

Nick is interested in Abby, but once Abby meets Connor, she’s got other ideas. They have sex on the roof of a building, and the next morning, they realize that Connor didn’t use a condom. He ends up taking her to the drug store for a morning after pill. Which they couch as an “abortion pill,” which is completely wrong and misleading. Anyway, Abby finds out that she’s been rebooked for an audition that she missed the previous day thanks to all the apartment and car drama. She ends up having to take the bus to get there, which Is kind of unheard of in LA. The audition seems to be going well, with Abby killing it with a song, but then the morning after pill gets to her and she vomits all over the piano.

Tariq, as I mentioned, has an internship with a hip hop producer. He’s frustrated because even though he had to send in a bunch of tracks to be considered for the job, he’s basically just a gofer. The producer Tariq is working for is trying to put together some beats for Drake, and Tariq begs for one of his tracks to be considered. He gets one shot, and the producer and his entourage all think the track Tariq plays isn’t that great. Tariq decides to take a chance, and when he’s asked to send three tracks to Drake, he adds one of his own tracks to the email, too. When the producer finds out about this, he’s not very happy, but he tells Tariq that it’s his track now, since Tariq erased his name from it.

Finally, we meet Alicia, who is played by the also awesome Chelan Simmons (yay Gretchen Speck-Horowitz!). She’s an aspiring dancer who has an audition for an Usher tour near the beginning of the pilot. She seems very confident at the beginning of the episode, trying to help a newbie navigate the audition process before she gets a callback and the newbie is rejected. Alicia spends much of the episode waiting for the phone call that says she’s going to be on the tour, but that call never comes. Alicia meets Abby, and they commiserate over their mutual career woes. Alicia decides to show Abby what she does to make money as a struggling dancer. It turns out that Alicia moonlights as a stripper. Abby actually seems kind of impressed.

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