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September 21, 2007


The L Word, lite

Logo redeems itself with ‘Exes and Ohs’

Ah, dear, sweet Logo. When the LGBT cable netlet started, everybody was so excited, wondering what joys it would bring.

Then they got stuck with endless reruns of the same documentaries that were kind of interesting the first four times, but after that they got really stale.

There were some high points, admittedly, like Scott Thompson of Kids in the Hall fame hosting First Comes Love, or the should-have-been-naughtier-on-Showtime Noah’s Arc, the first black gay television series to get off the ground.

Much of it has been hit or miss, though. Big Gay Sketch Show was pretty funny, while Rick and Steve, the Happiest Couple in the World seemed to follow the mathematical equation: South Park + Lego – 75% of the laughs = Rick and Steve. In other words, not that damned funny.

And Curl Girls? What the heck is that?

Logo gets to redeem itself, though, with the October 8 debut of Exes and Ohs, which their press materials compare to Allie McBeal or Sex and the City. A more apt analogy might be The L Word Lite. All of the long hair with half of the angst!

The half-hour dramedy is written by Michelle Paradise, who penned the short film The Ten Rules. She then adapted it into the series, and stars in both the original short and the new sitcom.

She plays Jennifer, a neurotic and perpetually startled lesbian filmmaker whose one success was a documentary on bird watchers called, aptly enough, Bird Watchers.

Surrounding her are a cast of cuckoos who borrow both from The L Word and many old sitcom saws, like the hot slut who’s afraid of commitment, although she’s not nearly as bad as that show’s Shane. She’s very attractive, although in a more femme way than Shane.

Marnie Alton plays Sam, the Shanelet, and she’s definitely one to watch.

Heather Matarazzo plays the young crazy one, in this case named “Crutch,” as opposed to Mia Kirshner’s Jenny Schecter in The L Word. In a way, that’s kind of interesting casting, since Matarazzo played Stacey Merkin, a thorn in Jenny’s side, in the most recent season of Showtime’s series. Now, in a way, she’s become Jenny. Admittedly, Crutch is about one-tenth as crazy and annoying as Jenny, but nine out of ten lesbians surveyed want Jenny dead.

Rounding out the main body of the cast are Kris and Chris, the dress-alike dyke couple who own a pet shop together and are parents to “little furry friends.” Angela Featherstone (Kris-with-a-K) and Megan Cavanagh (Chris-with-a-C) are amusing together, and their comic timing is spot-on.

The main conceit of the show is that in certain situations, Jennifer will break the fourth wall and talk to the audience, illuminating the Rules of Lesbian Life. Apparently, a relationship is officially over if the couple have broken up four times or been apart for six months, after which either member is fair game.

The first episode begins with Jennifer and Sam, innocently taking a schvitz at the spa, trying not to pay too much attention to the two women making out in the corner. That is, until Jennifer realizes one of the women is her partner, Sienna.

Flash forward to one year later, when Sienna and the other half of that sweaty knot of flesh, their former therapist, are getting married.

Will Jennifer go to the wedding? Why does she still have that old Provincetown sweatshirt? What’s the deal with the pot that Sienna used to cook their last meal together?

The second episode sees Jennifer finally dating again, although, in a major sitcom cliché, her amour turns out to be a single mom and Jennifer just isn’t sure if she’s ready to deal with that.

Throw in a trip to Hooters (or some generic TV knock-off of the place) and you’ve got a cute episode.

Being Logo, there are some limitations to the fun that The L Word doesn’t face: little to no nudity, and profanity gets bleeped. However, Paradise seems to work well within those strictures, turning out an amusing, bemusing little show.

Unedited versions of the episodes will also be available for purchase through a number of download sites, although that is hardly going to make people want to watch the bowdlerized version on their digital basic cable channel.

So, one might ask, is it worth watching?

The answer is a resounding yes. It’s a little silly at times, perhaps a bit trite here and there, but probably better than at least half the new sitcoms that will trot out for the fall season. What network television lacks in its willingness to take risks, cable more than provides.




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