Tuesday, October 18, 2005

TV: Related, Take Two

Man, and I thought Inconceivable and Close to Home were gyno-centric. Related actually made me lactate.

Related is a well put-together production about four sisters making their way in the big city. From oldest to youngest, there's Ginnie (Jennifer Esposito), a hard-driving business woman (in the field of...? something unspecified) who discovers she's unexpectedly pregnant; Ann (Kiele Sanchez), who's a therapist of some kind, and who has just been dumped by her boyfriend of six years; Marjee -- is that the hip spelling of "Margie"? (Lizzy Caplan), who's just been evicted from her apartment, and who makes a living...? it's hard to tell exactly what her job is -- organizing parties for famous people, I guess; and Rose (Laura Breckenridge), who has just switched majors from pre-med to "experimental theater" and dyed her hair blue.

Like Hot Properties, this is another blatant grab for the ex-Sex and the City audience; this one is even created by Liz Tuccillo, an ex-SatC writer -- the same one who co-wrote He's Just Not That Into You, which Hot Properties could not shut the hell UP about. Related is more about family relationships than banging every guy in the city limits (and parts of Jersey), but the comparisons still exist. Four hot women in the ci-tay! They're just like Samantha and Miranda and... uh... Beverly, and... Gladys? -- whatever the hell their names were, you know who I mean.

The show gets by on the charms of the sisters (well, three of them, especially Lizzy Caplan; I found the youngest pretty annoying). The actresses work well as an ensemble, and keep things light and entertaining. It's when they get a little too manipulatively emotional -- as in the weepy bathroom scene near the end -- that things go off track a bit. Also, I liked seeing Callum Blue, formerly of Dead like Me, as Ginnie's husband -- funny guy. Dan Futterman, as the guy who dumps Ann -- not so much. You just wonder A) how can he get away with dumping her, and B) why was she even with him in the first place?

One unintentionally funny bit of casting had me in stitches for half the show -- Marjee's big-name client is Jillian Barberie, playing herself. I find it hysterical that a major piece of the story hangs on the thespianic abilities and awesome starpower of the chick who does the weather for the NFL pregame show on Fox.

Another interesting casting note: Ann was originally played by Laura San Giacomo. I like her, but I can see why they recast her; she's at least a decade older than the next oldest actress. Hey, it might not be fair, but that's show biz, and youth sells.

I didn't hate this show. In fact, there's a lot in it to like. The writing can be a little off at times, but when it hits, it can be really clever and amusing. The visual style of the show is slick and inventive (in a non-eye-damaging way). And the cast is (mostly) very appealing. But once again, as with Close to Home, this is just not a show for me. I don't automatically exclude from my schedule every show primarily intended for a female audience. I mean, I still watch Gilmore Girls. But I can't watch this. There's only so much estrogen a guy can handle.

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