I have a low bar for being entertained. Psych does me good. Eureka. Any of the shows with an obvious canned plot where only the details change. I’m a fan of those shows, and I’m looking forward to Defiance’s next episode, even though it seems to just be Eureka with a different timbre – the Sheriff rolls into town with his spunky daughter, solves some problems, and away we go into the Season’s long A line plot. Good, relaxing stuff.
As an English major, though, I’m a fan of complexity and often wonder why so few programs try to be original, and break away from the perceived-as-safe structures built into super-popular hour-long shows. I think, at least in part, dreck like the turn-of-the-decade Lexx might be part of the answer.
I was willing to look past the low production quality; it’s an older show, and bad CG has a special place in my heart thanks to Baldur’s Gate and the crop of RPGs that came out around that time. The acting was bad in places, too, but again, no real demerits. If I can stomach anime dubbing, there’s no reason I can’t look past a few clumsily delivered lines to get at the heart of a story.
And at first, the show seemed to have a lot going for it. The opening bit has a brave rebel s singing a beautiful dirge as they fly into The Last Battle™, and the automated trials were a fun, if heavy-handed jab at The System™. And then an incredibly fat woman rolls in, and has enough camera time that I know she’s going to be a main character. The automated judge and jury probe her memories, and we find out that she’s been viciously mistreated because of her weight, and I think, Aha! This show tackles social issues in a meaningful way! In an environment where women are objectified still, I thought, this ten-year-old program dared to make a very large woman a main character and to make her weight a matter of importance to her personal arc. Fantastic!
Except that’s not what happened.
She’s sentenced to be a love slave, and she gets freed in the chaos of the A line plot… but not before a machine makes her “beautiful,” replacing her with a different, far more standard looking actress. The show had betrayed my trust before the pilot was over.
I could have been doing my dishes or something, too. Damn shame.
But there’s a lesson, here, I think. Stories are communication, and it’s easier to miscommunicate an idea through a story that’s breaking the tried-and-true formulas. I doubt very highly that the writers meant to betray my trust, and very probably, thought that this sequence was clever and challenged the status quo in some way. I’ll never know for sure, because whatever they meant to say by replacing the actress in a beautification machine, I took it as a cowardly step and decided not to waste my time. The show lasted three seasons, though, so apparently enough people disagreed with me, or were perhaps harder up for entertainment.
Watch Lexx, if that’s your thing.
Agree? Disagree? Sound off in the comments.