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Saturday, June 2, 2012

Don't burn down The L.A. Complex

The Canadian show that has quickly become a must-see series, The L.A. Complex, brought its freshman run on the CW to a close this week. The sixth and final episode is appropriately titled "Burn It Down," seeing as how practically all of the characters either burn a bridge or face a dream destroyed. It's a tragic, downer ending, with just enough glimpses of hope to get viewers excited for season two.

Raquel (Jewel Staite, in a terrific, moving performance) realizes that she cannot keep up her con on poor Gary (Rob Stewart, Nikita). She comes clean with him, breaking things off and tearing up his check. Her character really faces a decision about what she can do to further her career and still live with herself. It turns out, falsely keeping a man's heart is a step too far. Raquel begins down this path, and then regrets it. But the fact that she makes it right, as much as she can, proves that she is a good person, and hopefully she will get her break soon. Though, it's sad that she can't return Gary's feelings, because he would treat her right.

Alicia (Chelan Simmons) is also seeing her future disappear. Desperate after losing an Usher tour gig, she makes some questionable decisions, leading to a contract with a porn company, and sleeping with someone to earn another job. Then, after all of that, she is offered the Usher position. As "Burn It Down" ends, she is truly melancholy. Can she even take the Usher job now, with her other commitments? One might think this tour would provide an escape from the life she is quickly finding hard to recognize, but it's unclear if there is an out for her. Too bad, considering how hard she has been working.

Rounding out the trio of bad news stories is Tariq (Benjamin Charles Watson), who loses his lover. Caught in a kiss, King (Andra Fuller) beats on Tariq rather than letting anyone know that he is gay. Judging him as a person, King's actions are totally detestable. No one should treat anyone like King treats Tariq, least of all a lover. But from a career perspective, King would be dead in the water if his secret leaked. His fans would have no toleration for his homosexuality. So King is faced with an either-or choice. He may not make the right decision, but it highlights his priorities effectively. Poor Tariq's heart is broken, as surely this ruins any plans to go on tour together.

Luckily, there are some bright spots in "Burn It Down," too. Nick (Joe Dinicol) gets to go on tour as a comedian! Yes, he inadvertently steals some material from Sabrina (Georgina Reilly, Murdoch Mysteries), which will probably come back to haunt him. But he didn't mean to, and now his dream might become reality! Even better, the girl he really likes, more than Sabrina, kisses him! Nick is on his way!

The girl who kisses Nick is Abby (Cassie Steele). Nick almost screws up a big audition for her, but it works out all right in the end, as she gets the job. Her anger, not at Nick sleeping with Sabrina before they really begin a relationship, but because of when Nick tells her, is totally justified. It seems to spell the end before things can even get started. However, considering the positive outcome of the situation, it appears that she and Nick have a second chance. Gotta love a happy ending, even though the two do not seem destined to last long-term.

Finally, there's Connor (Jonathan Patrick Moore). Connor has a rough go of it, getting off of his medication, which leads to drinking, loneliness, and trouble. Thank goodness he's talented, or he surely would have been fired from his series. And after the bar fight, he is put back on his happy pills.

Strangely, though, "Burn It Down" ends with Connor burning down the house his television show paid for. The upbeat music implies he will leave the house before being seriously injured himself, so that's not really a worry. But is the fire a sign he's not all better, or a symbolic gesture to rid himself of the terrible time the last month has been? It could be taken either way, and it won't be until viewers get a second season that anyone will know for sure.

Overall, The L.A. Complex has been a terrific ride. Justifiably categorized as a guilty pleasure, the acting is pretty good for what it is, sometimes verging on great, especially where Staite is concerned. The stories are well written, hitting the right notes, and only occasionally feeling rushed. The show is enjoyable, and the season finale leaves one wanting more.

The fate of the series is just as mixed as the way the characters end up in "Burn It Down." The Canadian network that airs it has ordered a second season, but the CW has seen abysmal ratings. Rumor has it, that despite this, the second season will still air on the CW, probably starting this July. Summer shows don't have to get as large a rating as in the regular season, and it looks like the CW might be willing to give this one a chance to grow in popularity, which it should do. Word of mouth might help, especially from Canadians, who seem to really like the show.

I certainly hope there is a turn around in viewer numbers, because if this first batch is any indication, the series is good. What's more, shows of this type will often improve as the writers and actors grow more comfortable in their roles. This can only help The L.A. Complex.

If you like my reviews, please follow me on Twitter! Article first published as Don't burn down The L.A. Complex at TheTVKing.com

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