Saturday, October 29, 2011

I Have a Girl Crush - SMG

Yes, I must admit, I have a girl crush. Now, those of you who are thinking inappropriate thoughts, shame on you. You clearly don't know me that well, and get your head out of the gutter.

Those of you who know that the initials "SMG" stand for "Sarah Michelle Gellar" probably think, well duh - Buffy's one of your favorite characters in the whole wide world. And you would be half right in your assumptions. Of course I've had a girl crush on Buffy for over a decade. First, a brief view of my crush on Buffy.

Joss Whedon, in my opinion, is a genius. He took the old horror movie trope of the beautiful blond in the negligee walking down the stairs to investigate that scary noise. Any intelligent watcher is screaming at the television for the idiot blond to stay away, but she never listens, and sure enough, ends up brutally killed. You knew Buffy would be a different type of show from it's opening scene. A high school jock, clearly with nefarious plans in mind, is escorting a tremulous blond through the halls of Sunnydale High School. She's nervous, scared of every noise, but the jock assures her it will all be alright. Sadly for him, the blond isn't a high school girl, but a vampire well over 400 years old. The jock didn't score, but Darla had a nice meal.

Buffy was not the victim but the heroine, the slayer, the chosen one, who has supernatural powers that enable her to kill vampires and other evil creatures.  Slayers were normally solitary creatures who were infused with the essence of demons so that they could kill demons, often dying young. Buffy wanted nothing to do with being a slayer after getting kicked out of high school in LA, but, of course, her destiny followed her, and she eventually gave in. But she always played by her own rules. First, she had friends who knew her "secret identity" and frequently took part in the battles against the forces of evil. She was determined to maintain her sense of style, being the mall rat she was. She also had a sense of humor that wouldn't stop, no matter how serious or tragic the circumstances. Look at the following quotes:

In Faith, Hope, and Trick, about her life returning to normal: "All right, yes, date and shop and hang out go to school and save the world from unspeakable demons. You know, I wanna do girlie stuff."

In Real Me, after Giles complains about his new car's automatic transmission:
Buffy: Giles, are you breaking up with your car?
Giles: Well, it did seduce me, all red and sporty.
Buffy: Little two-door tramp.

And in the final episode, Chosen, to Angel, explaining her complicated feelings about Angel and Spike and her desire to wait before deciding between the two: "I'm cookie dough. I'm not done baking. I'm not finished becoming whoever the hell it is I'm gonna turn out to be. I make it through this, and the next thing, and the next thing, and maybe one day, I turn around and realize I'm ready. I'm cookies. And then, you know, if I want someone to eat (eyes go wide as she realizes what she's saying) ... or enjoy warm, delicious cookie me, then...that's fine. That'll be then. When I'm done."

Let's face it, I could talk for hours about Buffy, and what she means to my life and my view of popular culture and television. But I must remind you the title references Gellar, not Summers.

One of the most difficult things I think that we as television viewers have to do is dissociate the actor from the character. We're adults, and we learn early on the distinction between the two. But this can be harder to achieve than it appears, as evidenced by comments that actors who play polarizing characters receive from members of the general public. But I think I've done a pretty good job of making that distinction. Patrick Stewart is no Jean Luc Picard, James Gandolfini is no Tony Soprano, and Valerie Harper is no Rhoda Morgenstern. I get it.

And Sarah Michelle Gellar is no Buffy Summers. Gellar started in Hollywood very young, staring in a series of Burger King commercials that were involved in a lawsuit by McDonald's. But she first really became famous when she starred as Erica Kane's long lost daughter Kendall on All My Children. I've long heard about the professionalism of Erica's portrayer, Susan Lucci, and even before Buffy hit the television air waves, I had heard that Lucci and Gellar did not get along.

I also read some silly magazine articles about Gellar, in which she impresses the author because she and her friends had "girls weekends" in which no one was allowed to wear make up. Wow.

But I truly lost respect for Gellar when she announced via Entertainment Weekly that she was quitting Buffy, before she told her co-stars. Yeah, you just don't do that in my world.

Post-Buffy (and, to be fair, during), Gellar appeared in a number of movies, with only Scream 2, I Know What You Did Last Summer, Cruel Intentions and The Grudge being remotely respected. How many movies with Gellar have I seen? None. I'm just not interested in any of them.

Her personal life is quite boring, certainly, compared with her contemporaries. She married one of her movie co-stars, Freddie Prinze, Jr., who, honestly, is one of the most boring actors ever, and had a daughter in 2009.  I never see her in the tabloids and rarely in the magazines. I think better of her for that, certainly.

But really, her biggest problem is that she's not Buffy. No one is.

All that said, I was excited to hear that Gellar was scheduled to star in a new series, Ringer, about identical twins, one of whom takes over the life of the other. The trailer was intriguing, and if Gellar did as good a job on this show as she did on Buffy, well, what's not to like?

My first clue that it might not be such a great show was before it even aired - it went from CBS to the CW. The CW is famous for its teen and young adult soaps. And critics I trust who had seen the pilot episode didn't have much good to say. But I had to see it.

And see it I have - all episodes that have aired. And it's horrible. The story lines don't make sense, the characterization missing, and the tension untense. The basic story is this: former prostitute Bridget is in protective custody because she plans to testify about a murder she witnessed. Newly sober, she somehow escapes from protective custody and reconnects with her wealthy identical twin sister. Apparently the two had a falling out related to Bridget's drug use and the death of Siobhan's child (presumably related). Siobhan appears to commit suicide, and Bridget decides to take her sister's identity to hide from the murderer.

Bridget discovers that Siobhan's life isn't all great - she and her husband have a hostile relationship, her stepdaughter hates her, and she's having an affair with her best friend's husband. Worse yet, it becomes clear that someone was paid to kill a woman named "Siobhan Martin". Bridget is doing her best to take on Siobhan's life and hiding the fact that she isn't the same woman. All the slight differences between the two women don't seem enough to clue anyone that the woman isn't Siobhan.  Seriously?

Of course, Siobhan was not dead, but living in Paris. It's clear she has an agenda, against her husband and against Bridget. We don't know why, but it appears we'll learn soon enough.

And the two men in Siobhan's life - Andrew (husband) and Henry (lover) are both dull as dishwater (maybe Freddie Prinze, Jr. was the model?). I guess that Siobhan had an affair with Henry because Andrew ignored her for his work. But it feels like not only is the wife new in this marriage, so is the husband. A man who put work before his family has made lots of changes in his life, apparently. I don't know. The men are pretty to look at but not much else.

The tension, beyond Bridget trying to be Siobhan, comes from Bridget trying to hide the body of the man who killed her, or trying to hide a gun, or staying out of Henry's bed. Gemma, Siobhan's boring best friend, discovered that Siobhan and Henry were having an affair. Bridget finally confessed to Gemma that's she's Bridget, and Gemma then blackmailed Bridget to get Henry to sleep with her so Gemma could ensure Henry gets none of her money. Bridget refused, and shortly thereafter, was Gemma was apparently killed. I guess that's a mystery now.

No matter what I write, I know that I am fighting a useless battle. There's no way I can convince you that this show is good and worth your time. It's not. The show gets a C- or D. If only I could stop watching.

What makes me watch this show week after week? There's only one possibility: SMG. So, it's true, I have a crush.

Veronica Mars fan alert: Jason Dohring, Veronica's bad boy boyfriend Logan Echolls, plays a teacher in the high school of Andrew's daughter attends.

Lost fan alert: Nestor Carbonell, Richard Alpert, is the FBI agent determined to find Bridget.

Buffyverse fan alert: Well, duh.

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